BIA issues statement on taking land into trust within the Cherokee Nation

May 24, 2011

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Statement from Chad Smith, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, on today's BIA letter (attached) 

The BIA regional office issued the attached statement today on the issue of taking land into trust within the Cherokee Nation's boundaries. 

We are happy with elements of the decision because it reaffirms our sole governmental authority within the Cherokee Nation. The decision points out that the UKB "failed to show any treaty or Congressional act establishing the UKB's inherited right or claim to reservation land within the boundaries of the Old Cherokee Indian Reservation." 

It's important to point out that the Cherokee Nation does not object to the UKB taking land into trust, but it does object to any group trying to take land into trust within our boundaries. The letter specifically states that federal courts have "previously decided that the Cherokee Nation is the only tribal entity with jurisdictional authority in Indian Country within the Cherokee Nation." We welcome the UKB to take land into trust, but we only ask they do it outside of our jurisdictional boundaries. 

The BIA has already rejected this particular application twice before, because the Cherokee Nation has sole jurisdiction and treaty rights within its boundaries. We are confident this decision by a BIA employee will be found arbitrary and a violation of precedent and law. It will be overturned by the courts.

[Read the Letter]
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