Friday, September 12, 2008

BIA head reviews UKB trust land appeal

(the UKB is a faction also within the Cherokee Nation, they have a blood quantum requirement for membership of 1/4 Cherokee Blood - they likewise have been at odds with the Cherokee Nation for generations. They are however one of the three Federally Recognized Cherokee Bands - Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah and the Eastern Band of Cherokee in North Carolina being the other two - there is one state recognized Cherokee band in Alabama - that's all the Cherokee entities that are recognized - all others are fake Cherokee tribes)

BIA head reviews UKB trust land appeal

Native American Times

Tulsa, OK


Written by S.E. Ruckman

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians has appealed a Bureau of Indian Affairs decision that denied the tribe trust land.

UKB officials also said that the BIA head has opted to review the motion.

In a Sept. 4 memo, BIA Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary George Skibine said he would review the UKB appeal filed after Jeannette Hanna, BIA Eastern Regional director, rejected the 12,000-member tribe’s petition to have 70 acres of land near Tahlequah deemed trust property.

Hanna’s denial notification addressed to UKB chief George Wickliffe, dated Aug. 6, said that the UKB’s legal standpoints to apply for trust status are relevant by language, but that other considerations were prominent.

“Jurisdictional problems and potential conflicts of land use would arise between the UKB and the Cherokee Nation concerning the jurisdiction over the property held in trust for the UKB and located within the treaty boundaries of the Cherokee Nation,” Hanna said in the letter. “These potential conflicts include, without limitation, conflicts between the Cherokee Nation and the UKB over criminal and civil judicial jurisdiction on the property and conflicts over the operation of Bureau programs by the Cherokee Nation on behalf of the UKB.”

Skibine said Hanna, BIA Oklahoma Director Jerry Gidner and Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith have all been notified of his decision. "...the Deputy Secretary delegated to me the authorities of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs, which is currently vacant, I will exercise my authority consistent with that delegated authority to decide this appeal,” Skibine said in the memo to Steven Lindshield, a chief federal administrative judge. Skibine did not set an appeal decision date.

The UKB purchased the acreage near Tahlequah and filed to put the property into trust. Those efforts challenged the nearby Cherokee Nation because both tribes claim jurisidiction of a 14-county area.

Mike Miller, Cherokee Nation spokesman, said earlier and current attempts by the UKB to obtain trust status on that property, “flies in the face of history.” “Time and time again, the BIA has recognized the Cherokee Nation’s treaty rights and their jurisidictional boundaries that are consistent with legal theories.” he said. “It has been proven over and over again in court.”

UKB Chief George Wickliffe said he commended Skibine’s decision and took it as a positive development in the tribe’s quest for land-into-trust.

The tribe is considered a landless tribe, but the UKB contends that its quest has been a legal battle that can be won. “The UKB has every right to have the opportunity to have lands taken in trust so that it can provide services to its members on trust land – a right of sovereignty enjoyed by almost every other federally recognized Indian tribe in America today,” Wickliffe said.

In the UKB’s bid for trust status, a federal regional solicitor earlier questioned the Cherokee Nation’s exlclusive claim to its 14-county jurisdiction and recommended that Hanna withdraw her earlier trust decision, a Feb. 14 memo to then BIA Director Carl Artman notes.

Artman has since resigned from the BIA’s top post.

Meanwhile, Miller said the land-into-trust application filed by the UKB has been reviewed and found lacking.The 250,000 member tribe is confident its jurisdictional precedent will remain intact, he said.

“Tribes understand where their boundaries are,” Miller said. “The UKB is the one trying to change that.”