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'Carcieri fix' appearing before U.S. Senate again

April 18, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate will again consider a “Carcieri fix” bill that contains language that would allow for tribes such as the Narragansett Indians to take their land into trust.

The land-trust issue became increasingly prevalent following the state of Rhode Island's win in federal Supreme Court in the the case of Carcieri v. Salazar. The court ruled 8-1 in favor of the state in a case that essentially defined the meaning of the word "now" in the 1934 Indian Recognition Act.

The contention was that "now" could be interpreted as meaning whenever a tribe was recognized by the federal government. But with the court's decision came the ruling that "now" meant that a tribe was recognized in 1934 when the act was created.

This left some tribes, such as the Narragansett Indian Tribe, which was recognized in the 1980s, unable to obtain federal trust status for their settlement lands.

This most recent piece of “Carcieri fix” legislation was introduced last week to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee by its chairman, Hawaiian democrat Sen. Daniel K. Akaka. In a release, he stated that the bill aims to “address problems created by the Supreme Court ruling in Carcieri v. Salazar.”

"As a result of the Supreme Court ruling, this legislation is necessary for the United States government to fulfill its trust responsibility towards tribes and Native peoples,” Akaka said.

For more information, pick up this week's The Chariho Times.

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