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ANCIENT INDIAN LAND CLAIMS

JUNE 23, 1982

U.S. SENATE,
SELECT COMMITTEE ON INDIAN AFFAIRS,

Washington, D.C.

The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:20 a.m., in rooms 6226 and 1318, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Senator William S. Cohen (chairman) presiding.

Present: Senators Cohen and Goldwater.

Staff present: Timothy Woodcock, staff director; John Chaves, staff attorney; Patricia Zell, staff attorney; Max Richtman, minority staff director; and John Mulkey, legislative liaison for Senator DeConcini. Senator COHEN. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

Today the select committee will hear testimony on S. 2084, the Ancient Indian Land Claims Settlement Act.

Our hearing today has been preceded by a hearing yesterday in the House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee on legislation pending in the House of Representatives.

In the beginning of this hearing, I would like to point out that I am well acquainted with the legal basis and the implications of the claims raised by the Indian tribes on the purported invalidity of land transfers lacking Federal approval set forth in the Nonintercourse Act.

In 1972, in my home State of Maine, two Indian tribes, later joined by a third, filed claims based on aboriginal title to as much as 121⁄2 million acres in the State of Maine. This claim comprised some 60 percent of the total land area of the State and threatened the land titles and livelihoods of some 350,000 Maine citizens.

As the 96th Congress drew to a close, Congress enacted the Maine Indian Claim Settlement Act and the claims were extinguished pursuant to an agreement of the parties. The Federal legislation followed the enactment of a complex jurisdictional arrangement between the tribes and the State of Maine as outlined by the Maine State Legislature.

While the Maine Indian claims were pending, feelings in the State ran high and at times municipalities and even the State of Maine itself experienced great difficulty in marketing their bonds.

In considering settlement legislation, the Maine congressional delegation was concerned with eliminating the burden the claims brought on the State, insuring that the settlement took account of the historical circumstances surrounding the land transfers, and making certain that settlement was final.

These objectives were achieved in two pieces of settlement legislation.

The bill before this committee today would retroactively ratify the land transfers now in question and extinguish consequential damages. According to the testimony received to date, S. 2084 is opposed by several of the tribes it would affect. In listening to the testimony that is to be offered, the committee is going to attempt to determine the legal sufficiency of the provisions of the act and I can assure the witnesses that I am already alert to the problems they have faced and look forward to receiving their testimony.

I should note before beginning this hearing that today's hearing list contains a good many witnesses. The size of the list is doubtless strong testimony itself of the strong feelings surrounding these claims.

I would like to caution all the witnesses appearing in panels that we are able to allocate no more than 6 minutes per witness, and I want you all to be conscious of the use of time so you do not deprive the other panelists of their time. I can assure you that any prepared statements are going to be included in the record and the record is going to remain open for a period of 30 days for the receipt of any additional testimony.

We have to put these time restrictions on if we are going to complete the hearings within the next 4 hours, in which they must be completed, today at least.

So, with that admonition, I would now call upon the first witness, Congressman Gary Lee, to make his opening statement and presentation. I assume Senator Thurmond will be here shortly after the Senate convenes, to be joined by Senator D'Amato.

Before we proceed with the hearing, without objection, I will place a copy of S. 2084 in the hearing record.

[The bill follows:]

II

97TH CONGRESS

2D SESSION

S. 2084

To establish a fair and consistent national policy for the resolution of claims based on a purported lack of congressional approval of ancient Indian land transfers and to clear the titles of lands subject to such claims.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

FEBRUARY 9 (legislative day, JANUARY 25), 1982

Mr. D'AMATO (for himself and Mr. THURMOND) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Select Committee on Indian Affairs

A BILL

To establish a fair and consistent national policy for the resolution of claims based on a purported lack of congressional approval of ancient Indian land transfers and to clear the titles of lands subject to such claims.

1 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representa2 tives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, 3 That this Act may be cited as the "Ancient Indian Land 4 Claims Settlement Act of 1982".

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CONGRESSIONAL FINDINGS AND DECLARATION OF POLICY

SEC. 2. (a) Congress, after review of various claims that 7 have been asserted by Indian tribes for recovery of lands that 8 were transferred to non-Indians generations ago, purportedly

The bill before this committee today would retroactively ratify the land transfers now in question and extinguish consequential damages. According to the testimony received to date, S. 2084 is opposed by several of the tribes it would affect. In listening to the testimony that is to be offered, the committee is going to attempt to determine the legal sufficiency of the provisions of the act and I can assure the witnesses that I am already alert to the problems they have faced and look forward to receiving their testimony.

I should note before beginning this hearing that today's hearing list contains a good many witnesses. The size of the list is doubtless strong testimony itself of the strong feelings surrounding these claims.

I would like to caution all the witnesses appearing in panels that we are able to allocate no more than 6 minutes per witness, and I want you all to be conscious of the use of time so you do not deprive the other panelists of their time. I can assure you that any prepared statements are going to be included in the record and the record is going to remain open for a period of 30 days for the receipt of any additional testimony.

We have to put these time restrictions on if we are going to complete the hearings within the next 4 hours, in which they must be completed, today at least.

So, with that admonition, I would now call upon the first witness, Congressman Gary Lee, to make his opening statement and presentation. I assume Senator Thurmond will be here shortly after the Senate convenes, to be joined by Senator D'Amato.

Before we proceed with the hearing, without objection, I will place a copy of S. 2084 in the hearing record.

[The bill follows:]

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may have had to these Indian tribes, and, consequently, in generations of landowners and local and State governments justifiably relying on the validity of the original transfers and the claims of title emanating therefrom, and in the making in good faith of substantial investments in and improvements upon these lands; (4) any judicial determination that these ancient transfers were invalid will cause significant economic

dislocation and disruption to numerous State and local

governments and hundreds of thousands of landowners;

(5) Congress agrees with the statements made by several courts and executive branch officials, including past Attorneys General of the United States, who upon examination of the nature and consequences of these

claims have expressed the view that these ancient Indian land claims cannot be resolved fairly and equita

bly through litigation against innocent private landowners but compel action by Congress;

(6) the primary purpose of the Nonintercourse Act

provision of the Trade and Intercourse Act of 1790,

21 which was to ensure fairness in the transactions by

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which Indian tribes conveyed their lands to non-Indi

ans, can be secured by now compensating Indian tribes

to the extent that those tribes did not receive fair com

pensation for such conveyances; and

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