Stigler Act amendment presented during legislative hearing
WASHINGTON — Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief James Floyd gave testimony regarding amendments to the Stigler Act during a legislative hearing for the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
Oklahoma Congressmen Tom Cole, Markwayne Mullin, Frank Lucas and Steve Russell introduced H.R. 2606 in May 2017, which recently passed unanimously through the House earlier this year.
The next step involved the Senate receiving testimony during a hearing held Nov. 14.
The Stigler Act of 1947 as it stands today restricts land allotted to members of the Five Civilized Tribes based upon blood quantum.
“This one half degree requirement imposed only on the five tribes is arbitrary and unjust,” Floyd said during his testimony. “All other tribes including all 33 other tribes in the state of Oklahoma are excluded from this requirement.”
The Stigler Act authorizes restricted land to become subject to taxation once a citizen of the Five Civilized Tribe’s heir has a blood quantum that reaches below the determined degree of one-half.
“Without amendment, the Stigler Act will continue to systematically destroy the land base of the five tribes by converting restricted Indian land to state fee land,” he said.
If the amendment is passed, the degree requirement would be eliminated and allow restricted status to be maintained once the title is passed down to an heir, regardless of blood quantum.
Floyd said he wanted to clarify any possible misconceptions of H.R. 2606. He said the amendment would not be retroactive and only land currently held in restricted status would be eligible.
“There will be no loss of state or county income from property taxes,” he said. “That portion of the Stigler Act in particular Section 6a is not being amended what sets out the taxable status of restricted land for the Five Tribes.”
Floyd testified that out of the 2.9 million acres of original allotted land, only 133,399 acres remain.
“If not resolved quickly we could lose everything. Our land, our history, our stability and our sovereignty,” Floyd said.
“Though we can’t get back what we lost. You can help us protect what remains.”
If passed through the Senate, H.R. 2606 will then be sent to the President of the United States to become law.
To watch the full hearing visit: www.indian.senate.gov/hearing/