U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash., has announced that Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, will continue to chair the Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs in the 113th Congress.
Young has chaired the Subcommittee during the 112th Congress, directing attention to his desire for increased economic development and self-determination initiatives for tribes.
He has also butted heads with the Obama administration’s Interior Department, which neglected to send an official to testify at his hearing on tribal federal recognition this summer, and he has been a critic of how some aspects of the Cobell settlement have unfolded, particularly surrounding the lawyers involved in the case and the administration’s handling of separate tribal trust settlements.
Young also notably introduced the American Indian Empowerment Act of 2011 < /2011/12/01/american-indian-empowerment-act-introduced-65350 > as “a starting point for a discussion on where federal Indian policy should go in order to increase tribal self-governance,” he wrote in an Indian Country Today Media Network op-ed piece.
“I have made no bones about what my intent is – I want to see federal Indian policy move in a completely new direction,” Young wrote. “That direction includes returning power back to the tribes and allowing them – at their sole discretion – to remove the Federal government from overseeing their lands. It is my belief this will lead to the improvement of the quality of life for America’s tribes. The idea of empowering tribes and finally getting the Federal Government out of their way is a concept I will not compromise on. The lands that our tribes occupy are rightfully theirs and if they want to develop those lands for the betterment of their people – then the Federal Government should not stand in their way as it has so often done.”
In response to the news of his reappointment to chair the Subcommittee, Young was pleased, and he vowed to continue advocating for tribes.
“I am honored to continue as Chairman of the Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Subcommittee and in the 113th Congress I look forward to continuing a discussion to increase tribal self-government through removing outdated, excessive BIA policies and rules that impede tribes from using their lands for their members’ benefit,” Young said.
“The subcommittee intends to conduct vigorous oversight of the Interior Department, particularly in how it conducts the land consolidation program that has just commenced, and also promote natural resource development by tribes that seek to use their forest, oil, gas, coal, mineral, and renewable resources for the good of the tribes and the surrounding communities.”