WASHINGTON D.C. – Dec. 20, 2018, marked a historic day for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation as H.R. 2606, the Stigler Act Amendments of 2018, passed the U.S. House in a 399-0 roll call vote advancing the legislation to the White House to await signature from President Donald Trump signing it into law.
After more than 20 years of unsuccessful attempts from the Five Civilized Tribes of Oklahoma to amend the Act of August 4, 1947, known as the Stigler Act, passage of H.R. 2606 is a significant victory as it pertains to the restricted fee status of land for members of the Five Civilized Tribes.
The legislation has been a prominent objective for the Nation’s current administration under Principal Chief James R. Floyd, who aggressively advocated for the bill since it was first introduced.
Before Chief Floyd took office, he quickly realized the substantial need for amendments to the Stigler Act through various encounters with citizens.
“For far too long, citizens of the Five Civilized Tribes have needed relief from these antiquated blood quantum requirements,” Chief Floyd said. “Every time I had to go to Washington, D.C., I made sure I hit every office I needed to and talked about this bill so they didn’t forget. This is a big deal that will affect a lot of our families.”
The success of the bill is the result of extensive lobby efforts among the Five Civilized Tribes, as well as Oklahoma congressional leaders making the legislation a priority of the U.S. 115th Congress.
The bill, specifically of Native Interest, was first introduced May 23, 2017 by Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) and co-sponsored by Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02). Congressman Cole, co-chair of the Native American Caucus, is also a citizen of Chickasaw Nation and Congressman Mullin, a Cherokee Nation citizen, is vice-chair of the Native American Caucus.
“Thanks to the extraordinary leadership of Congressman Tom Cole, Congressman Markwayne Mullin, Sen. James Lankford and Sen. James Inhofe, and the entire Oklahoma delegation, a solution to a problem that has afflicted thousands of Oklahoma tribal families is now attainable,” Chief Floyd said.
The current law requires citizens of Muscogee (Creek), Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Seminole citizens, to have at least one-half Native American blood quantum in order to maintain restricted status of land from original allotted land parcels passed down by ancestors.
Removing the blood quantum requirement will significantly impact these tribal citizens by allowing lineal descendants by blood of the original enrollees named on the Five Tribes membership rolls to maintain restricted fee status on family land as it’s passed on to succeeding generations.
The new law will also ensure that citizens of the Five Civilized Tribes in Oklahoma are treated the same as citizens of all other U.S. federally-recognized tribes, who under federal law were never governed to meet any arbitrary blood quantum requirement to keep ancestral land in restricted fee status.
Theses revisions to the Stigler Act will positively affect Muscogee (Creek) families by potentially resolving nearly 300 cases in probate. Increasing the number of resolved title issues will also assist in correspondence and access to contact information related to oil and gas property leases.
In anticipation of the H.R. 2606 passage, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Realty Trust Services has been working to create a course structure to educate citizens on the new revisions. Courses will include information on updated requirements, restricted lands, probates, rights of ways and other areas of land into trusts.
Realty Trust Services Manager Sonya McIntosh said the department will begin by offering an informative class to administration and landowners during the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes Quarterly Meeting Jan. 9 – 11, 2019.
Once the course work is finalized, the Realty Trust Services will begin offering scheduled classes to citizens that can later be condensed and placed on the Nation’s website, www.mcn-nsn.gov.