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Utah tries grabbing tribal land and pilfering tribal funds

Ute Tribe goes to war against 'modern day Indian land grab' bill

The Ute Tribe of Utah has launched a campaign to defeat a Republican lawmaker who is pushing a "modern day Indian land grab" through Congress.
The target of the Ute Indian Tribe Political Action Committee is H.R.5780, the Utah Public Lands Initiative Act. The bill takes 100,000 acres from the tribe's reservation and transfers it to the state of Utah.

But Ute PAC is also taking aim at Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), the sponsor of the bill. The tribe says the Republican incumbent has used his position as chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources to advance policies that are dangerous to Indian Country.

"Rob Bishop’s era of broken promises and violation of treaties with Indian tribes must come to an end," Ute PAC said in an announcement on Monday.

Utah congressmen propose ‘modern-day Indian land grab’

Two Utah congressmen are proposing a piece of legislation that would set Native American land rights back over 100 years. The Utah Public Lands Initiative is a proposal that would turn 26 percent of the Ute Tribe’s land into oil and drilling zones.

The US has not made a treaty with a Native American nation since the 1800s, but a proposal for Eastern Utah is bringing back feelings of mistrust from tribes. Republican Congressmen Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz, along with Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) have proposed The Public Lands Initiative that they claim “is a locally-driven process to bring resolution to some of the most challenging land disputes in the state of Utah.”

Not everyone sees it that way, however. The proposal would remove federal protections from 18 million acres of land and could allow them to be turned into oil and gas drilling zones that are exempt from environmental protections, Telesur reported.

Utes Continue “Land Grab” Battle

Shaun Chapoose, chairman of the Ute Tribe, is meeting with top officials from the Obama administration this week in an attempt to gain support for blocking what the Utes call a “modern day Indian land grab.”

At issue is H.R. 5780, the Utah Public Lands Initiative, which would transfer 100,000 acres from the Ute reservation to the State of Utah.

“I have an obligation as a tribal leader to stand and protect my tribe,” Chapoose said.

The bill, introduced by Utah Congressman Rob Bishop, was rushed through the process, Chapoose charged.

Recent actions on Capitol Hill backed up Chapoose’s assertion.

In a controversial September 14th hearing, the bill was passed by Republicans over the protests of the Democrats on the committee. The Utes were not allowed to speak during the hearing.

“There sat us, the Ute Tribe, residents of Utah, not allowed to speak,” Chapoose said.

For his part, Bishop takes exception to the tribe’s claim of a “land grab.” He said he found the term “personally offensive.”

Bishop said the tribe refused to respond to his staff for a year as they sought input from the tribe.

Chapoose said that is simply not true.

Bishop’s bill would transfer more than 100,000 acres from the tribe’s 4.5 million acre reservation to the state.

The plan has been in the planning for four years – with some 1,200 meetings held – but the Ute Indian Tribe had not been part of the discussions. The tribe’s release said it had only learned of the plan in January.

In addition to taking the land, Bishop’s bill would impact the tribe’s sovereignty by creating things like “scenic rivers,” “recreation areas” and a “utility corridor” on the reservation.

Navajo Nation Objects to “Land Grab” Bill

The Ute Tribe and the state of Utah have been fighting over legislation that the tribe considers a modern-day “Indian land grab.”

The controversial bill – introduced by Utah Congressman Rob Bishop – is H.R. 5780, also known as the Utah Public Lands Initiative, and it would transfer more than 100,000 acres from the Ute reservation to the State of Utah.

Ute Chairman Shaun Chapoose also criticized language in the bill that was favorable to mining the area known as Bear’s Ears.

But buried in the 215-page Utah initiative are three sentences that would adversely impact the Navajo Nation.

The bill would double the state’s percentage of revenues from the Utah Navajo Trust Fund. In the past, federal officials have chastised the state’s management of the fund.

The Navajo Nation Council passed a resolution last week to oppose H.R. 5780. Lawmakers complained that Utah officials never spoke to the tribe about this drastic change.

It’s similar to the argument Chapoose has made. The Ute chairman said Bishop and Utah officials are trying to push H.R. 5780 through without allowing tribal input. The Utes were not allowed to speak at a September 14 public hearing heldby a Congressional committee.

Bishop has said that for more than a year the Utes have failed to respond to overtures from his office.

However the Utes claim that Utah lawmakers have held more than 1,200 meetings on the initiative over the past four years without the tribe being notified. The tribe only found out about Bishop’s bill earlier this year, Chapoose said.

It’s the same argument being made by the Navajo Nation now. The Navajo council said no one from Utah had discussed any changes to the Utah Navajo Trust Fund with them.

“The change to the UNTF should have been a stand-alone bill and not hidden within H.R. 5780,” Navajo Delegate Davis Filfred said.

Filfred also noted the bill’s lack of protection for Bear’s Ears. Bishop does not realize the importance of that area to the Navajo people, Filfred said.

Great White Father speaks with forked tongue.

This is why the Republic dies. The politicos can't keep their word.

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