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S.Con.Res. 161 (106th): Navajo Nation Trust Land Leasing Act of 2000

The text of the bill below is as of Dec 14, 2000 (Passed Congress).


Agreed to December 14, 2000

One Hundred Sixth Congress

of the

United States of America


Begun and held at the City of Washington on Monday,

the twenty-fourth day of January, two thousand

Concurrent Resolution

    Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That the Clerk of the House of Representatives, in the enrollment of the bill (H.R. 5528) to authorize the construction of a Wakpa Sica Reconciliation Place in Fort Pierre, South Dakota, and for other purposes, shall make the following correction:

      (1) Strike title XII and insert the following:



    This title may be cited as the ‘Navajo Nation Trust Land Leasing Act of 2000’.


    (a) FINDINGS- Recognizing the special relationship between the United States and the Navajo Nation and its members, and the Federal responsibility to the Navajo people, Congress finds that--

      (1) the third clause of section 8, Article I of the United States Constitution provides that ‘The Congress shall have Power . . . to regulate Commerce . . . with Indian tribes’, and, through this and other constitutional authority, Congress has plenary power over Indian affairs;

      (2) Congress, through statutes, treaties, and the general course of dealing with Indian tribes, has assumed the responsibility for the protection and preservation of Indian tribes and their resources;

      (3) the United States has a trust obligation to guard and preserve the sovereignty of Indian tribes in order to foster strong tribal governments, Indian self-determination, and economic self-sufficiency;

      (4) pursuant to the first section of the Act of August 9, 1955 (25 U.S.C. 415), Congress conferred upon the Secretary of the Interior the power to promulgate regulations governing tribal leases and to approve tribal leases for tribes according to regulations promulgated by the Secretary;

      (5) the Secretary of the Interior has promulgated the regulations described in paragraph (4) at part 162 of title 25, Code of Federal Regulations;

      (6) the requirement that the Secretary approve leases for the development of Navajo trust lands has added a level of review and regulation that does not apply to the development of non-Indian land; and

      (7) in the global economy of the 21st Century, it is crucial that individual leases of Navajo trust lands not be subject to Secretarial approval and that the Navajo Nation be able to make immediate decisions over the use of Navajo trust lands.

    (b) PURPOSES- The purposes of this title are as follows:

      (1) To establish a streamlined process for the Navajo Nation to lease trust lands without having to obtain the approval of the Secretary of the Interior for individual leases, except leases for exploration, development, or extraction of any mineral resources.

      (2) To authorize the Navajo Nation, pursuant to tribal regulations, which must be approved by the Secretary, to lease Navajo trust lands without the approval of the Secretary of the Interior for the individual leases, except leases for exploration, development, or extraction of any mineral resources.

      (3) To revitalize the distressed Navajo Reservation by promoting political self-determination, and encouraging economic self-sufficiency, including economic development that increases productivity and the standard of living for members of the Navajo Nation.

      (4) To maintain, strengthen, and protect the Navajo Nation’s leasing power over Navajo trust lands.

      (5) To ensure that the United States is faithfully executing its trust obligation to the Navajo Nation by maintaining Federal supervision through oversight of and record keeping related to leases of Navajo Nation tribal trust lands.


    The first section of the Act of August 9, 1955 (25 U.S.C. 415) is amended--

      (1) in subsection (d)--

        (A) in paragraph (1), by striking ‘and’ at the end;

        (B) in paragraph (2), by striking the period and inserting a semicolon; and

        (C) by adding at the end the following:

      ‘(3) the term ‘individually owned Navajo Indian allotted land’ means a single parcel of land that--

        ‘(A) is located within the jurisdiction of the Navajo Nation;

        ‘(B) is held in trust or restricted status by the United States for the benefit of Navajo Indians or members of another Indian tribe; and

        ‘(C) was--

          ‘(i) allotted to a Navajo Indian; or

          ‘(ii) taken into trust or restricted status by the United States for an individual Indian;

      ‘(4) the term ‘interested party’ means an Indian or non-Indian individual or corporation, or tribal or non-tribal government whose interests could be adversely affected by a tribal trust land leasing decision made by the Navajo Nation;

      ‘(5) the term ‘Navajo Nation’ means the Navajo Nation government that is in existence on the date of enactment of this Act or its successor;

      ‘(6) the term ‘petition’ means a written request submitted to the Secretary for the review of an action (or inaction) of the Navajo Nation that is claimed to be in violation of the approved tribal leasing regulations;

      ‘(7) the term ‘Secretary’ means the Secretary of the Interior; and

      ‘(8) the term ‘tribal regulations’ means the Navajo Nation regulations enacted in accordance with Navajo Nation law and approved by the Secretary.’; and

      (2) by adding at the end the following:

    ‘(e)(1) Any leases by the Navajo Nation for purposes authorized under subsection (a), and any amendments thereto, except a lease for the exploration, development, or extraction of any mineral resources, shall not require the approval of the Secretary if the lease is executed under the tribal regulations approved by the Secretary under this subsection and the term of the lease does not exceed--

      ‘(A) in the case of a business or agricultural lease, 25 years, except that any such lease may include an option to renew for up to 2 additional terms, each of which may not exceed 25 years; and

      ‘(B) in the case of a lease for public, religious, educational, recreational, or residential purposes, 75 years if such a term is provided for by the Navajo Nation through the promulgation of regulations.

    ‘(2) Paragraph (1) shall not apply to individually owned Navajo Indian allotted land.

    ‘(3) The Secretary shall have the authority to approve or disapprove tribal regulations referred to under paragraph (1). The Secretary shall approve such tribal regulations if such regulations are consistent with the regulations of the Secretary under subsection (a), and any amendments thereto, and provide for an environmental review process. The Secretary shall review and approve or disapprove the regulations of the Navajo Nation within 120 days of the submission of such regulations to the Secretary. Any disapproval of such regulations by the Secretary shall be accompanied by written documentation that sets forth the basis for the disapproval. Such 120-day period may be extended by the Secretary after consultation with the Navajo Nation.

    ‘(4) If the Navajo Nation has executed a lease pursuant to tribal regulations under paragraph (1), the Navajo Nation shall provide the Secretary with--

      ‘(A) a copy of the lease and all amendments and renewals thereto; and

      ‘(B) in the case of regulations or a lease that permits payment to be made directly to the Navajo Nation, documentation of the lease payments sufficient to enable the Secretary to discharge the trust responsibility of the United States under paragraph (5).

    ‘(5) The United States shall not be liable for losses sustained by any party to a lease executed pursuant to tribal regulations under paragraph (1), including the Navajo Nation. Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to diminish the authority of the Secretary to take appropriate actions, including the cancellation of a lease, in furtherance of the trust obligation of the United States to the Navajo Nation.

    ‘(6)(A) An interested party may, after exhaustion of tribal remedies, submit, in a timely manner, a petition to the Secretary to review the compliance of the Navajo Nation with any regulations approved under this subsection. If upon such review the Secretary determines that the regulations were violated, the Secretary may take such action as may be necessary to remedy the violation, including rescinding the approval of the tribal regulations and reassuming responsibility for the approval of leases for Navajo Nation tribal trust lands.

    ‘(B) If the Secretary seeks to remedy a violation described in subparagraph (A), the Secretary shall--

      ‘(i) make a written determination with respect to the regulations that have been violated;

      ‘(ii) provide the Navajo Nation with a written notice of the alleged violation together with such written determination; and

      ‘(iii) prior to the exercise of any remedy or the rescission of the approval of the regulation involved and the reassumption of the lease approval responsibility, provide the Navajo Nation with a hearing on the record and a reasonable opportunity to cure the alleged violation.’.


Secretary of the Senate.


Clerk of the House of Representatives.