Natural Resources Committee to Hold First Congressional Hearing Examining Tribal Co-Management of Public Lands

Washington, D.C. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) will convene the full Natural Resources Committee for an oversight hearing titled, “Examining the History of Federal Lands and the Development of Tribal Co-Management” on March 8 at 10:00 a.m. Eastern time. The livestream of the hearing can be viewed here.

The hearing will be the first in congressional history to examine tribal land dispossession enacted by the U.S. government and the impact of dispossession on federal land management practices.  Before the arrival of European colonists, Indigenous Peoples lived on and cared for the lands now known as the United States since time immemorial. Centuries of cruel, forcible tactics—coercion, removal, and genocide—and bad-faith congressional and regulatory actions have since pushed Indigenous Peoples off nearly 99% of the lands they previously occupied. 

The hearing will also explore the historical and legal support for tribal co-management of federal lands, including current and potential tribal co-management activities. Indigenous Peoples have deep connections to and traditional knowledge of their ancestral homelands, many of which are now federally managed lands. Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge (ITEK) is a tremendous asset to implementing land management practices that promote both environmental sustainability and responsible stewardship of resources. Tribal co-management of public lands is also vital to strengthening tribal sovereignty and promoting self-governance.

The witness panel for the hearing will be comprised of Indigenous voices who will provide cultural, historical, and legal perspectives on the importance of tribal co-management:

Panel I

  • The Honorable Charles “Chuck” Sams, III, Director, National Park Service (Cayuse and Walla Walla). Director Sams will discuss how the National Park Service has and will continue to expand the role of tribal communities in federal land management.
  • The Honorable Carleton Bowekaty, Lieutenant Governor, Pueblo of Zuni/Member, Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition (Pueblo of Zuni). Lt. Gov. Bowekaty will discuss the efforts of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition to support and manage the Bears Ears National Monument, and how dedicated funding for tribal engagement can transform ongoing co-management efforts.
  • The Honorable Melvin J. Baker, Chairman, Southern Ute Tribal Council, Minority Witness.

Panel II

  • Dr. Doug Kiel, Assistant Professor of History, Northwestern University (Oneida Nation). Dr. Kiel will discuss the history of Indigenous land dispossession enacted by the U.S. government and the historical context of the federal trust responsibility.
  • Ms. Aja DeCoteau, Executive Director, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation). Ms. DeCoteau will discuss Indigenous cultural and spiritual connections to the land, as well as the role that ITEK serves in tribal co-management.
  • Mr. Kevin Washburn, Dean and Professor of Law, University of Iowa College of Law (Chickasaw Nation). Dean Washburn will highlight opportunities to expand tribal co-management under existing law. He will share insights gleaned in the formulation of his recent law review article on tribal co-management.
  • Mr. Cody Desautel, President, Intertribal Timber Council, Minority Witness

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Press Contact

Media Contact: Lindsay Gressard

(202) 225-6065 or (202) 740-4715 mobile