May 23, 2017
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after introducing the Stigler Act Amendment of 2017, along with Congressmen Lucas, Mullin and Russell. This legislation amends the Stigler Act of 1947, which restricts Native American allotted land to only persons of ½ degree of Native American blood heritage.
The Dawes Act of 1887 authorized the federal government to survey tribal lands and divide them into allotted parcels for individual Native Americans. Title to these allotment parcels was set forth in the “Stigler Act of 1947.” The Stigler Act provides that, upon probate, if the heirs and devisees of an original allottee from the Five Tribes (Chickasaw, Choctaw, Seminole, Creek and Cherokee) have passed out of ½ degree Native American blood, the allotment loses its “restricted free” status. Restricted land is not subject to state taxation. Federal law does not dictate a minimum Native American blood degree requirement for any other tribe.
The Stigler Act Amendment of 2017 seeks to amend the original Stigler Act, and remove the ½ degree requirement of Native American blood. In doing so, it would provide the opportunity for heirs and devisees to take title to the land, and allow the parcel to maintain its “restricted” status. This legislation will also create parity in federal law in the treatment of Native American-allotted land by removing minimum blood degree requirement for solely the Five Tribes.
“Introducing this amendment to the Stigler Act will allow for past precedent to be current with the realities of Native-owned, restricted land,” said Cole. “Many of Oklahoma’s citizens have passed out of ½ blood lineage, but remain vested to their Native American heritage. Removing the ½ blood degree prerequisite and expanding its range to any degree will help preserve the rights and legacy of Native American tribes and their inheritance.”
“As Native Americans, we take great pride in our heritage and the land that our ancestors maintained before us,” said Mullin. “The Stigler Act Amendment would allow Natives to pass on their restricted land to future generations who may not meet the ½ blood degree requirement. I appreciate Congressman Cole for putting forward this legislation to ensure that members of the Five Tribes who seek to carry on their ancestors’ heritage can continue to preserve restricted status of their land and reap all of the benefits that come along with it.”
“The Stigler Act Amendment of 2017 protects the sovereignty and heritage of our Native Americans in Oklahoma,” said Russell. “Through time many of our tribal members have passed out of the blood degree prerequisites allowing taxation of tribal businesses. This bill would fix this issue and allow tribal heritage and sovereignty to continue to grow and thrive in Oklahoma.”
Link to bill:
Contact: Teresa Davis (202) 225-6165