"Indian Reservation Document 1881", Michael Horse (Yaqui, Mescalero, Apache, Zuni)
1) The 1985 Hay Program
When Congress passed the appropriation bill in 1985 (PL 99-190) they included $6,000,000 for the purchase of hay to feed drought-impacted livestock on the reservations of Montana and North and South Dakota as requested by Tribal Leaders. Congress also required that the BIA write a report on the use of the funds, and answer seven questions concerning its management of trust agriculture lands. The 1986 Report to Congress on BIA Agriculture – Range Programs attempted to answer those questions, and proposed nine action steps to improve its management.
2) National Indian Agriculture Working Group
The Senate Committee let it be known to the Department of the Interior that a key question for next set of budget hearings would be what progress had been made on the nine recommendations. An implementation plan was developed and the National Indian Agriculture Working Group was formed to undertake much of the research and recommend improvements. Their report: Findings and Recommendations of the National Indian Agriculture Working Group was provided in November of 1987 and included 32 general actions to improve conditions for agriculture and support tribal goals in Native American and Alaskan Native Communities. This report lead to Congress establishing the Intertribal Agriculture Council in 1987, and hosting Hearings on Indian Agriculture in 1989, preparatory to starting work on the legislation which became the American Indian Agriculture Resource Management Act of 1993.
3) Intertribal Agriculture Council, Senate Hearings and Archaic Laws
Key in the recommendations of the BIA Report, the National Indian Agriculture Working Group, and the testimony presented by Tribal Leaders in the 1989 Hearings was the need to remove or update the older laws, specifically the Dawes Act of 1889 and the Indian Reorganization Act of 1924, both if which had been the basis for trust land management by the Bureau of Indian Affairs up to that time. Research by the various groups pointed out the management of agriculture trust lands was dictated by these archaic laws, and the BIA was forced, by law, to lease land for maximum short-term income regardless of Elected Tribal Government desires. There were numerous specific legal impediments to direct Indian use of Indian-owned lands and resources created by these archaic acts, including short term leases with no right of renewal, no Indian preference, bonding and surety requirements that many reservation residents couldn't meet, and no provision for the Elected Tribal Government to exert jurisdiction as required by the Indian Self determination Act (PL 93-638).
4) AIARMA of 1993
When the final version of the American Indian Agriculture Resource Management Act emerged, Congress specifically recognized the vast diversity of Indian country and the improbability of enacting a single, overriding law to fit all reservations. To account for this diversity, and to update trust management to reflect the Legal Mandates of the Indian Self-Determination Act, among others, Congress specifically provided that elected Tribal Governments should enact local ordinances and codes that would supersede the CFR and be used by both the Tribes and the Federal Government in the management (including leasing and permitting) of these trust assets.
As provided for in the Law, the development of a community-based Agriculture Resource Management Plan specific to the lands and people of an individual reservation will govern local management once it is approved. This entails asking the people of Indian Nations how they would like to have the resources of their reservation managed, and what actions they believe will best answer the longstanding issues in the community. There are few limits on the breadth and scope of this undertaking, but the key constraint is that newly developed plan, when adopted by the elected Tribal government, will dictate the actual management practices utilized by both a Tribe and the BIA on a reservation.
The purpose for listening sessions is to hear from the community, on what their individual visions, dreams, goals and desires are for their reservation and its agricultural lands. These public sessions are recorded and transcribed in their entirety by a professional Court Reporter, so that a clear record will be available to drive the drafting of a functional ARMP for a reservation.
Why is this important?
 The first is that Law requires it. The American Indian Agricultural Resource Management Act of 1993 requires the preparation of a 10-year Agriculture Resource Management Plan (ARMP) for each reservation. The same law also requires that the plan:
Why Did Congress require specific management plans on each reservation? Congress required it because, under the prior laws, dating back to 1888, the Bureau of Indian Affairs had to apply identical regulations to all the reservations, equally; an amount of land, when including Alaska native lands, that would be nearly 100 million acres and if it was all located in one contiguous block, would be the third largest state in the Union. Regardless of overall size, community needs, land ownership patterns, climate, resources, soil productivity or any number of things that make each reservation unique, the BIA was legally required to treat them all identically. This law changes that. Now each reservation can adopt policies, codes and regulations that reflect the uniqueness of that specific community resource base and community.
 The Second Reason it is important, is because:
|"Indian agriculture resource management plans developed and approved under this section shall govern the management and administration of Indian agricultural resources and Indian agricultural lands by the Bureau and the Indian tribal government."|
Therefore, it is not necessary for the Tribal Government to take over any or all management of the agriculture resources to make this a reality. Regardless of who does the work, BIA or Tribe, the ARMP based on the goals established through these listening sessions is the basis for management at a reservation, not the current CFR. In other words, whatever comes out of this process will determine how the agricultural resources of a reservation are managed for at least the next 10 years.
Also, Congress redefined the purposes for BIA management of Indian Agriculture by including community and producer outcomes along with resource protection. The required management objectives now are:
|(1) To protect, conserve, utilize, and maintain the highest productive potential on Indian agricultural lands through the application of sound conservation practices and techniques. These practices and techniques shall be applied to planning, development, inventorying, classification, and management of agricultural resources.|
|(2) To increase production and expand the diversity and availability of agricultural products for subsistence, income, and employment of Indians and Alaska Natives, through the development of agricultural resources on Indian lands.|
|(3) To manage agricultural resources consistent with integrated resource management plans in order to protect and maintain other values such as wildlife, fisheries, cultural resources, and recreation and to regulate water runoff and minimize soil erosion.|
|(4) To enable Indian farmers and ranchers to maximize the potential benefits available to them through their land by providing technical assistance, training, and education in conservation practices, management and economics of agribusiness, sources and use of credit and marketing of agricultural products, and other applicable subject areas.|
|(5) To develop Indian agricultural lands and associated value- added industries of Indians and Indian tribes to promote self- sustaining communities.|
|(6) To assist trust and restricted Indian landowners in leasing their agricultural lands for a reasonable annual return, consistent with prudent management and conservation practices, and community goals as expressed in the tribal management plans and appropriate tribal ordinances.|
Thankfully, the governing Community Council's of all reservations are the elected voice of the community. So no one attending a listening session is being asked to speak for a specific community, constituency, employer or group – nor is anyone required to make any far-reaching decisions or approve or disapprove any plan or course of action suggested in the listening sessions. Those functions remain with the elected government. So everyone attending a listening session can relax a little, the burden is not on their shoulders.
This series of public input through the listening sessions serves to inform Rose Community Development and our team, as well as the Tribal Government with whom we are contracted, and the BIA, on how the community wants its collective land-based resources managed. If enough good people participate and share their heartfelt ideas and views, Rose Community Development can create a roadmap that will drive any Indian Nation and its land operations into the future in harmony with the needs and abilities of the local resources and the desires of the local community.
Report on "Barriers to Successful Competition" can be read here: Download PDF
Congressional Reports on AIARMA can be read here: Download PDF
SENATE COMMITTEE ON INDIAN AFFAIRS - "INDIAN AGRICULTURE" can be read here: Download PDF
The actual law H. R. 1425 can be read here: Download PDF
The corresponding Code of Federal Regulations 25USC39 can be read here: Download PDF