In simple terms, what does it mean for tribes to reacquire land? Placing tribal lands in federal “trusts” means that tribes are able to reacquire the land that is rightfully theirs. There is also hope that in requiring land, Indigenous people will also be able to work with business and investment opportunities on the land with more autonomy and ease.
“Our actions today will help us meet that obligation and will help empower Tribes to determine how their lands are used—from conservation to economic development projects,” Haaland said in a statement.
According to the HuffPost, an Interior official explained during a phone call with reporters that these “changes reflect policy priorities that really are driven by Indian Country.” The official noted that Haaland “wants to make sure that our policy agenda, especially when it comes to tribal lands, which is at the center of the government-to-government relationship, reflects the importance of Indian lands and tribal sovereignty over those lands.”
So, how much land is there, really? To give a scope of how important this change really is, let’s look at numbers from both the Obama and Trump administrations. During the Trump years, the administration placed just 75,000 acres into trust. During Obama’s years, however, 560,000 acres of land were placed into trust. Even given that Obama had double the amount of years, it’s clear that things severely slowed down while Trump was in office. With progressives in office, small reversals are starting to have big changes for the better.