Leech Lake Reservation Restoration Act Passes House, Heads to the White House for Final Approval
December 4, 2020
WASHINGTON, DC- On Thursday, December 3rd, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed S. 199, the Leech Lake Reservation Restoration Act. The bill was sponsored by Senator Tina Smith. Rep. Betty McCollum introduced, H.R. 733, the identical House companion version of the bill.
The bill directs the Chippewa National Forest to transfer 11,760 acres of Forest Service lands to the Department of the Interior to be held in trust for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe as part of the Reservation. The lands to be transferred back to the Reservation were illegally transferred by the Interior Department to the Chippewa National Forest in the 1940s and 50s without consent of the Band or individual allottees.
During this period the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) wrongly interpreted an order from the Department of the Interior (DOI), which led them to believe they had the authority to sell tribal land without the consent of a majority of the landowners. The practice came to an abrupt end in 1959 when the Secretary of the Interior advised the BIA that they were illegal and ordered them to cease the transactions.