MILWAUKEE (Sputnik) — New rules the US government is trying to implement will make the land reacquisition and trust process even more cumbersome for Native American tribes, Tribal Ambassador of Shinnecock Indian Nation, Lance Gumbs, told Sputnik.
"What they are trying to do is to put more regulations into how a tribe re-acquires some of its original homelands," Gumbs said on Tuesday. "It's already a very very, extremely difficult process now, and with these new regulations and rules that they are trying to implement, it would make it much more burdensome, and much more cumbersome on a tribe to try to get and to restore some of their ancestral and tribal lands."
Gumbs, who is also the Vice President of the National Congress of American Indians for the Northeast Region, said the Shinnecock tribe received federal recognition in 2010 and is considered a landless tribe. And so one of the things the tribe does is go through the trust process to acquire the land.
"Yesterday, we just had a listening session here with the Bureau of Indian Affairs concerning new regulations that they want to implement for taking land into trust," Gumbs added. "That's one of the most critical aspects of tribal self-governance right now as being able to have land and taking land into trust so we can do economic development or housing on that land. Or maybe just leaving it so that we are able to utilize it for natural resources."
"The regulations that they are trying to put forward would add a burden to an already cumbersome process that's out there," the ambassador stressed.
"We are requesting more time and more consultation," he said.
Gumbs also said besides the land issue, the most pressing problems for the tribe are healthcare and housing. He said that they were concerned with the possible repeal of Obamacare.
"We don't know if that repeal would encompass Indian Health Services," he added. "Right now even without him [US President Donald Trump] taking it [Obamacare] apart there is not enough funding for Indian Health Services across Indian country. In New York we have a real issue with being underfunded financially for tribal health services."
Gumbs spoke on the sidelines of the 74th Annual Convention & Marketplace in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, organized by the National Congress of American Indians where the representatives of the tribes gathered to discuss the pressing issues facing the Native Americans.
The six-day event in Milwaukee, that kicked off on Sunday and will last through October 20, will focus on pressing matters, including tribal legislation, health, education and Native vote.