U.S. Rep Tom Cole released the following statement after H.R. 2606, the Stigler Act Amendment of 2017, was passed by the House Natural Resources Committee. The legislation amends the Stigler Act of 1947, which restricts Native American allotted land to only persons of one-half degree of Native American blood.
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 one-half degree of 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 one-half 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.
“I am pleased that the Stigler Act was agreed to and passed through the House Natural Resources Committee,” said Cole. “Amending the Stigler Act will allow for past precedent to be current with the realities of Native-owned land. By expanding the blood lineage degree, the amendment will support the preservation of the rights and legacies that Native Americans are entitled to, as well as their inheritance. I look forward to supporting the Stigler Act Amendment of 2017 on the House Floor for passage.”