WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA) Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) delivered the following remarks at a committee hearing to receive testimony on the following bills:
· S. 2285, the Lumbee Recognition Act;
· S. 3234, the Indian Community Economic Enhancement Act of 2016;
· S. 3261, the Native American Business Incubators Program Act; and
· H.R. 4685, an act to take certain federal lands located in Tulare County, California, into trust for the benefit of the Tule River Indian Tribe, and for other purposes.
The hearing featured testimony from Ms. Cheryl Andrews-Maltais, senior policy advisor to the acting assistant secretary for Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior; the Honorable Harvey Godwin, Jr., chairman of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina; the Honorable Kenneth McDarment, vice chairman of the Tule River Tribe; and Mr. Derrick Watchman, chairman of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development.
Click here to watch Sen. Barrasso’s remarks.
Click here for more information on the witnesses’ testimony and to watch video of the entire hearing.
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“Today the committee will examine four bills: S. 2285, the Lumbee Recognition Act; S. 3234, the Indian Community Economic Enhancement Act of 2016; S. 3261, the Native American Business Incubators Program Act; and H.R. 4685, the Tule River Indian Reservation Land Trust, Health, and Economic Development Act.
“The bill S. 2285, the Lumbee Recognition Act, was introduced on November 7, 2015 by Senator Burr. On June 7, 1956 Congress passed the Lumbee Act which designating certain Indians to be the Lumbee Indians of North Carolina but did not identify them as a federally recognized tribe.
“This 1956 Act did not provide the Lumbee Indians eligibility for federal services, which the United States provided to recognized Indian tribes because of their special status as an Indian tribe.
“Since the passage of the 1956 Act, Congressional action has been sought to remove the prohibition from accessing federal Indian programs.
“This committee has held several hearings on the status of the Lumbee Indians during which differing views on prior legislation have been considered. We will hear how this bill addresses these views in light of the 1956 Act.
“On July 14, 2016, I introduced S. 3234, the Indian Community and Economic Enhancement Act of 2016 along with Senator McCain.
“During this Congress the committee held a series of hearings, roundtables, and listening sessions to examine how to develop Indian community’s economies.
“Access to capital was one of the key challenges and top priorities identified by Indian tribes, business leaders, and entrepreneurs. This bill is intended to do three things: to increase access to capital for Indian tribes and businesses, to increase opportunities for Indian business promotion, and to create mechanisms and tools to attract business to Indian communities.
“Since the bill’s introduction, my staff has been engaged in discussions with affected agencies, tribes, business organizations, and business owners.
“We have received considerable positive feedback and look forward to addressing the recommendations received over the past recess and today as well.
“This bill will assist Indian businesses and communities in developing sustainable economies and jobs. I look forward to moving this bill expeditiously through Congress.
“I also want to take a moment to thank Gary Davis, the outgoing President of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise, for the work he and the National Center have done on this bill and for Indian economies.
“Both he and Mr. Derrick Watchman, the chairman of the National Center Board, who is testifying today, have testified before this committee.
“They have provided substantial input and support on this bill and the Indian energy act, S.209.
“I appreciate your work and ask you Mr. Watchman to send the committee’s gratitude and best wishes to Gary on his new adventures. Thank you.
“On July 14, 2016, Vice Chairman Tester introduced S. 3261, the Native American Business Incubators Program Act, along with Senators Cantwell and Udall.
“This bill develops a program for physical workspaces, or incubators, to develop Native businesses and Native entrepreneurs.
“On March 3, 2016, Representative McCarthy introduced H.R. 4685, the Tule River Indian Reservation Land Trust, Health, and Economic Development Act. This bill passed the House of Representatives on July 5 of this year.
“H.R. 4685 would take 34 acres of federal land located in Tulare County, California, into trust for the benefit of the Tule River Indian Tribe.”