Montana Senator Steve Daines will be in Lame Deer Thursday night to celebrate the passage of the Northern Cheyenne Lands Act. The federal legislation passed last December gives the tribe more control over its land base, natural resources, and trust funds.
The Celebration begins at 5 o’clock this evening at the Kenneth Beartusk Memorial Powwow Grounds.
Daines says passage of this legislation corrects a 114-year old survey error by the federal government. The Republican says this Act is a long-overdue resolution to the government’s breach of trust with the tribe.
"It really gives the Northern Cheyenne control over their resources which they did not have before," Daines says. "It gives the Northern Cheyenne who are struggling as it relates to jobs, unemployment rates, suicide, alcoholism. All the challenges faced right now in Indian country. It gives them some hope right now that they have some control and autonomy over their resources for economic growth, for job creation."
Daines says the Montana Congressional delegation worked to get the Act passed through Congress.
The legislation focuses on 5,000 subsurfaces acres within the reservation that the tribe had not owned.
Jamie Connell is the state director for the BLM Montana-Dakotas office. She’ll also be at the celebration in Lame Deer.
"The Bureau of Land Management served an important role in this very historic event and that is where we had responsibility for transferring coal resources that were in the federal ownership as part of the exchange that ended up with the Northern Cheyenne becoming fully the owner of all of the mineral estate within their reservation boundary. So we’re very proud to be part of this historic event," says Connell.
Great Northern Properties had owned the subsurface area addressed in the Act. As part of the legislation, Great Northern agreed to forgo its rights on the reservation in exchange for federal subsurface acres elsewhere in the Bull Mountains and East Fork areas.
The president of the Northern Cheyenne tribe was unavailable for immediate comment, but he told the Associated Press last December the tribal council members were ecstatic about passage of the Act.