WASHINGTON, D.C. ― U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, released the following statement Tuesday at the first business meeting of the committee in the 115th Congress:
“Congratulations, Senator Hoeven. I look forward to working with you to address the many issues affecting Indian Country. I’m sure you’ll agree that we need to work with Tribes to improve health care and education in their communities; housing; economic development; infrastructure; public safety – and the many other pressing issues before our Native communities. This Committee’s bipartisan tradition of working with Tribes to improve their lives should continue under our leadership. I believe that we can be one of the strongest voices for Indian Country in Congress. I look forward to working with each of you in the year to come.”
Udall reintroduced the following bills to be considered in committee on February 8, 2017:
Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act: This bill will strengthen Native language education and preserve disappearing Native languages in Indian Country by providing funding for Native American language educational organizations to create Native language nests, Native language survival schools, and Native American language restoration programs. The legislation, named for the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo master storyteller Esther Martinez, reauthorizes the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Program until 2020, includes improvements to expand the program’s eligibility to smaller-sized classes, and allows for longer grant periods.
A bill to allow Santa Clara Pueblo to lease for 99 years: This bill will fix an oversight in the law that prevents the Pueblo of Santa Clara to lease its land for 99 years. Although the current law allows Tribes to lease their lands for up to 99 years, the Pueblo of Santa Clara is one of several Tribes whose Treaty with the government pre-dates the law. Senator Udall’s legislation amends the law to allow Santa Clara Pueblo to hold a long-term lease on its lands, increasing the Pueblo’s ability to attract businesses to its lands and make long-term decisions for the good of the Pueblo community.