|July 24, 2014
CSKT Vice-Chair Lankford meets with Sen. Tester and Sen. Walsh in Washington, D.C.
CSKT Vice Chairwoman Carol Lankford met with Senator Jon Tester in Washington D.C. last week. (courtesy photo)
(U.S. SENATE) — Vice Chairwoman of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Carole Lankford met with Senators Tester and Walsh recently in Washington, D.C.
Senator Jon Tester met with Lankford to discuss land and wildlife management issues.
Lankford and Tester discussed the U.S. Interior Department’s Land Buy-Back Program, as well as negotiations with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the management of the National Bison Range. On Wednesday, July 16, Lankford testified before Tester’s Senate Indian Affairs Committee regarding the Buy-Back Program.
“Hearing concerns firsthand from Montana’s tribal leaders lets me stay on top of what’s happening in Indian Country,” said Tester, the Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. “Montana tribes have waited too long to reclaim their lands, and I’m looking forward to working with Carole and others from across Indian Country to improve the Land Buy-Back Program and keep the ball rolling on these important land purchases.”
The Land Buy-Back Program stems from the historic 2009 Cobell Settlement. The Program provides funding for the Interior Department to purchase land interests from individual Indians and transfer them to be held in trust for the tribe. Under the current guidelines, the Interior Department has ten years to complete purchases with the Land Buy-Back Program.
CSKT Vice Chairwoman Carol Lankford met with Senator John Walsh in Washington D.C. last week. (courtesy photo)
Tester previously pushed the Interior Department to work with members of Indian Country to move forward with the Department’s Land Buy-Back Program.
Senator John Walsh welcomed Lankford to his Washington office to discuss tribal self-determination and Walsh's legislation to strengthen tribal economies.
“It is essential that tribes have the authority to enter into self-determination contracts so that they can implement programs on behalf of their own people and manage their own land without federal interference,” Walsh said. "My bill to resolve the issues of the Cobell Settlement is about making sure Elousie Cobell's decades-long fight truly rights a century-old wrong instead of just getting caught in bureaucratic red tape."
Lankford testified before the House Natural Resources Committee in support of H.R. 4546, the “Department of the Interior Tribal Self-Governance Act of 2014.”
Walsh sponsored the Senate version of the bill. Lankford is also testifying before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs regarding the Land Buy Back Program created as result of the Cobell Settlement. Walsh introduced legislation that fixes problems with the Settlement, including a provision that allows tribes to enter into self-governance contracts to implement the Land Buy Back Program.
Since taking office, Walsh has visited each Indian nation in Montana, holding roundtable discussions and community meetings. Walsh is a strong advocate for Montana’s tribes, working towards passage of the Indian Coal Production Tax Credit and introducing his American Indian Teacher Loan Forgiveness Act to recruit and retain American Indian teachers.