Calfornia Senator Dianne Feinstein wrote an opinion piece in the Contra Costa Times on Nov. 27 that if the Senate takes up a “Carcieri fix” bill, she will bring forward legislation “to stop reservation shopping once and for all.”
The Supreme Court decided in Carcieri v. Salazar, 129 S.Ct. 1058 (2009) that the U.S. Department of the Interior could not use a 1934 law, 25 U.S.C. 465, to take new lands into trust status for tribes unless they had been federally recognized in 1934 when Congress enacted that law.
Many tribal nations that are federally recognized today were not so recognized in 1934. Consequently, tribes and their lawyers and various members of Congress have put forward the idea of a Carcieri fix to make all federally recognized tribes eligible for the Secretary of Interior to use section 465 to take new lands into trust for the tribes.
Feinstein expressed concern about the expansion of Indian casinos on “off reservation” lands in California. Thus, her opposition to a Carcieri fix apparently comes from her concern about the expansion of tribal gaming.
“But today the spirit of this proposition could be violated by major casinos proposed around the state on lands that are not ‘Indian lands’ – some of which are more than 100 miles from tribal headquarters,” she wrote.
Feinstein has promised to hold the “Carcieri fix” hostage.
The “Carcieri fix” has already passed Senate and House committees.
Indian Country Today says Feinstein’s proposal has conflated the Indian Reorganization Act from 1934 and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, and created uncertainty and confusion among some legislators.
The paper also notes that of the more than 1,900 trust land applications currently pending before the Bureau of Indian Affairs, fewer than 100 are for gaming purposes.