U.S. House passes Stigler Act amendment
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives on Sept. 12 passed an amendment to the Stigler Act of 1947 that would eliminate a blood quantum requirement for citizens of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw and Seminole nations in Oklahoma who own restricted lands.
The act currently requires those tribal citizens to have “one-half or more of Indian blood” to retain tax-exempt status for lands their respective families have owned since the allotment period in the early 1900s.
The five tribes in Oklahoma are the only tribes subject to such a blood requirement for the restricted status on lands.
According to the Cherokee Nation website, restricted land is land “held by an individual Indian and which can only be alienated or encumbered by the individual Indian owner with the approval of the Secretary of the Interior.”
It also states that restricted lands enjoy benefits such as being under tribal jurisdiction and protection as well as federal protection, and being not subject to ad valorem taxes. And if the landowner also works on trust land he or she is exempt from state income tax, the website states.
“The purpose of the 1947 Act was to move Indian land from tribal ownership to non-Indian ownership,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker told the House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs in 2017. “This law has been devastatingly effective in accomplishing that goal.”
Cherokee Nation citizen Markwayne Mullen, Chickasaw Nation citizen Tom Cole and fellow Oklahoma Reps. Frank Lucas and Steven Russell sponsored the legislation in 2017.
“When the Stigler Act of 1947 was passed over 60 years ago, the federal government mandated a one-half blood quantum requirement for restricted land owned by members of the Five Tribes,” Mullin said. “No other tribes in the United States faces this discriminatory measure. For Native Americans, our land is an important part of our heritage and updating the Stigler Act will allow the land allotted to our ancestors to keep its restricted status and remain in the bloodline. I am proud to be an original cosponsor of this legislation to let members of the Five Tribes keep the restricted status of their land within their families for generations to come.”
The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.