President Barack Obama signed a new law today amending a previous act that gives Indian tribes more control of their lands and development. The Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership (HEARTH) Act of 2011 amends the Indian Long-Term Leasing Act of 1955. HEARTH allows tribes to sign certain surface land leases without getting federal government consent and allows them to handle their own long-term land leasing.
The law also allows them to decide on expanding housing and economic development on tribal lands.
Until now, Indian nations had to have decisions approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and that process could take many years.