Although the proposal does not seem to go as far as the proposed First Nations Property Ownership Act (FNPOA) in Canada, the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership Act (HEARTH), which was passed without one dissenting voice in the U.S. House of Representatives, aims to do some of the same things, such as provide more secure title rights and cut out the regulatory barrier of federal approvals.
Specifically, the act would allow tribes to enter into certain surface leases without prior expressed approval of the Secretary of the Interior. Instead, tribes could approve leases directly.
The bill will also speed with up the process of title searches as lenders wanted to be assured there are no encumbrances on the property.
In the United States, as is Canada, a main obstacle for indigenous peoples is the land tenure system which denies them access to modern economic tools.
Here’s an excellent video illustrating the problem on both sides of the border.
What’s encouraging down there is the bill enjoyed complete support on both sides of the political spectrum. Advancing indigenous well-being ought to be an issue that transcends partisanship.
Although the U.S. bill seems much more limited in granting full property rights than the FNPOA here, let’s hope when a bill in Canada granting First Nations property rights is introduced sometime in 2013 it enjoys wide support from all parties.