Legislation

Apr 11 2014

S. 2256

Official Short: Northern Cheyenne Lands Act

Long Title: To direct the Secretary of the Interior to take certain land and mineral rights on the reservation of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe of Montana and other culturally important land into trust for the benefit of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, and for other purposes.

Sponsors: Mr. Walsh and Mr. Tester.

STATUS:

  • April 11, 2014:  Introduced.

S.2256

Northern Cheyenne Lands Act (Introduced in Senate - IS)

S 2256 IS

113th CONGRESS
2d Session
S. 2256

To direct the Secretary of the Interior to take certain land and mineral rights on the reservation of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe of Montana and other culturally important land into trust for the benefit of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, and for other purposes.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
April 11, 2014

Mr. WALSH (for himself and Mr. TESTER) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources


A BILL

To direct the Secretary of the Interior to take certain land and mineral rights on the reservation of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe of Montana and other culturally important land into trust for the benefit of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Northern Cheyenne Lands Act'.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress finds that--
      (1) the Northern Cheyenne Tribe has depended on the land of the Tribe and the land-based resources of the Tribe to support its way of life since time immemorial;
      (2) the Tribe has made supreme and historic sacrifices to repossess and maintain the homeland of the Tribe, including the Reservation of the Tribe in the State of Montana;
      (3) the Tribe suffers from tremendous social and economic challenges, including a lack of employment opportunities on the Reservation, which can be improved by strengthening the control of the Tribe over the land base, natural resources, and trust funds of the Tribe;
      (4) the Tribe and the members of the Tribe are the beneficial owners of more than 95 percent of the surface land of the Reservation and all but approximately 5,000 subsurface acres of the Reservation;
      (5) the Tribe seeks to obtain ownership of approximately 5,000 subsurface acres on the Reservation that the Tribe does not own as a result of an error made by the United States when the Reservation was expanded in 1900;
      (6) in 2002, the Tribe agreed by settlement to dismiss a lawsuit against the United States which alleged that the United States failed to protect the Reservation from the impacts of coal development in return for assistance in securing tribal ownership of the subsurface rights described in paragraph (5) substantially in the form of this Act, and to secure mitigation funding to address the impacts of coal development in areas adjacent to the Reservation, among other conditions;
      (7) to increase tribal ownership of the surface land, the Tribe has purchased approximately 932 acres of land within the Reservation that were, for various reasons, taken out of trust ownership status;
      (8) the Tribe has purchased approximately 635 acres of land near Bear Butte, South Dakota, which the Tribe considers sacred ground for the members of the Tribe, as well as for members of other Indian tribes;
      (9) the Tribe seeks to have the land and subsurface within the Reservation and the Bear Butte land described in this section taken into trust by the United States for the benefit of the Tribe;
      (10) the Tribe seeks clarification, consistent with the 1999 settlement with the United States, that the principal of the funds arising from the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reserved Water Rights Settlement Act of 1992 (Public Law 102-374; 106 Stat. 1186; 108 Stat. 707), the earnings from which are paid to the Tribe and managed as the `Northern Cheyenne Trust Fund' by the Office of Special Trustee, may be transferred to the Northern Cheyenne Tribe Permanent Fund, which has historically provided strong returns to the Tribe in direct support of tribal self-determination and to offset limited Federal funding of important tribal governmental services; and
      (11) if the conveyances of land and funds authorized under this Act are carried out, the Tribe has agreed to waive all legal claims against the United States arising out of the longstanding loss of the subsurface rights and the management of the Northern Cheyenne Trust Fund by the United States.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:
      (1) FUND- The term `Fund' means the Northern Cheyenne Trust Fund identified in the June 7, 1999 Agreement Settling Certain Issues Relating to the Tongue River Dam Project, which was entered into by the Tribe, the State, and delegates of the Secretary, and managed by the Office of Special Trustee in the Department of the Interior.
      (2) GREAT NORTHERN PROPERTIES- The term `Great Northern Properties' means the Great Northern Properties Limited Partnership, which is a Delaware limited partnership.
      (3) PERMANENT FUND- The term `Permanent Fund' means the Northern Cheyenne Tribe Permanent Fund managed by the Tribe pursuant to the Plan for Investment, Management and Use of the Fund, as amended by vote of the tribal membership on November 2, 2010.
      (4) RESERVATION- The term `Reservation' means the Northern Cheyenne Reservation.
      (5) SECRETARY- The term `Secretary' means the Secretary of the Interior.
      (6) STATE- The term `State' means the State of Montana.
      (7) TRIBE- The term `Tribe' means the Northern Cheyenne Tribe.

SEC. 4. TRIBAL FEE LAND TO BE TAKEN INTO TRUST.

    Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall take the approximately 1,567 acres of land depicted on the map entitled `Northern Cheyenne Lands Act - Fee-to-Trust Lands' and dated March 26, 2014, into trust for the benefit of the Tribe.

SEC. 5. MINERAL RIGHTS TO BE TAKEN INTO TRUST.

    (a) Completion of Mineral Conveyances-
      (1) IN GENERAL- Not later than 60 days after the date on which the Secretary receives the notification described in subsection (c), in a single transaction--
        (A) Great Northern Properties shall convey to the Tribe all right, title, and interest of Great Northern Properties, consisting of coal and iron ore mineral interests, underlying the land on the Reservation generally depicted as `Great Northern Properties' on the map entitled `Northern Cheyenne Land Act - Coal Tracts' and dated February 27, 2014; and
        (B) subject to paragraph (2), the Secretary shall convey to Great Northern Properties all right, title, and interest of the United States in and to the coal mineral interests underlying the land generally depicted as `Bull Mountains' and `East Fork' on the map entitled `Northern Cheyenne Federal Tracts' and dated February 27, 2014.
      (2) REQUIREMENT- The Secretary shall ensure that the deed for the conveyance authorized by paragraph (1)(B) shall include a covenant running with the land that--
        (A) precludes the coal conveyed from being mined by any method other than underground mining techniques--
          (i) until any surface owner (as defined in section 714(e) of Public Law 95-87 (30 U.S.C. 1304(e))) for a specific tract has provided to Great Northern Properties written consent to enter the specific tract and commence surface mining; and
          (ii) except as determined to be acceptable for further consideration for leasing in the document of the Bureau of Land Management entitled `Billings Resource Area Final EIS and Resource Management Plan' and dated September 1984; and
        (B) shall not create any property interest in the United States or any surface owner (as defined in section 714(e) of Public Law 95-87 (30 U.S.C. 1304(e))).
    (b) Treatment of Land Transferred to Tribe-
      (1) IN GENERAL- At the request of the Tribe, the Secretary shall take into trust for the benefit of the Tribe the mineral interests conveyed to the Tribe under subsection (a)(1)(A).
      (2) NO STATE TAXATION- The mineral interests conveyed to the Tribe under subsection (a)(1)(A) shall not be subject to taxation by the State (including any political subdivision of the State).
    (c) Revenue Sharing Agreement- The Tribe shall notify the Secretary, in writing, that--
      (1) consistent with a settlement agreement entered into between the Tribe and the State in 2002, the Tribe and Great Northern Properties have agreed on a formula for sharing revenue from development of the mineral interests described in subsection (a)(1)(B) if those mineral interests are developed;
      (2) the revenue sharing agreement remains in effect as of the date of enactment of this Act; and
      (3) Great Northern Properties has offered to convey the mineral interests described in subsection (a)(1)(A) to the Tribe.
    (d) Waiver of Legal Claims- As a condition of the conveyances of mineral interests under subsection (a)(1)--
      (1) the Tribe shall waive any and all claims relating to the failure of the United States to acquire and take into trust on behalf of the Tribe the mineral interests described in subsection (a)(1)(A), as directed by Congress in 1900; and
      (2) Great Northern Properties shall waive any and all claims against the United States relating to the value of the coal mineral interests described in subsection (a)(1)(B).
    (e) Rescission of Mineral Conveyances- If any portion of the mineral interests conveyed under subsection (a)(1) is invalidated by final judgment of a court of the United States--
      (1) not later than 1 year after the date on which the final judgment is rendered, the Secretary or Great Northern Properties may agree to rescind the conveyances under subsection (a)(1); and
      (2) if the conveyances are rescinded under paragraph (1), the waivers under subsection (d) shall no longer apply.

SEC. 6. TRANSFER OF NORTHERN CHEYENNE TRUST FUND TO TRIBE.

    (a) In General- Not later than 30 days after the date of enactment of this Act, all amounts in the Fund shall be deposited in the Permanent Fund.
    (b) Use of Amounts- Of the amounts transferred to the Permanent Fund under subsection (a)--
      (1) the portion that is attributable to the principal of the Fund shall be maintained in perpetuity; and
      (2) any interest earned on the amounts described in paragraph (1) shall be used in the same manner as interest earned on amounts in the Permanent Fund may be used.
    (c) Waiver of Legal Claims- As a condition of the transfer under subsection (a), the Tribe shall waive any and all claims arising from the management of the Fund by the United States.

SEC. 7. ELIGIBILITY FOR OTHER FEDERAL BENEFITS.

    The transfer under section 6 shall not result in the reduction or denial of any Federal service, benefit, or program to the Tribe or to any member of the Tribe to which the Tribe or member is entitled or eligible because of--
      (1) the status of the Tribe as a federally recognized Indian tribe; or
      (2) the status of the member as a member of the Tribe.

SEC. 8. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

      There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this Act such sums as are necessary.