Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians Resolution - "Sagebrush Rebellion Bill" HB 2982, Oregon Legislature
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                A F F I L I A T E D   T R I B E S   O F
                   N O R T H W E S T   I N D I A N S
                           RESOLUTION 81-21 

                       SAGEBRUSH REBELLION BILL, 
                   HB 2982 OREGON STATE LEGISLATURE 

     WHEREAS: a "Sagebrush Rebellion" bill, HB 2982, has been 
     introduced in the Oregon State legislature, the Columbia 
     River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission presents the following:  
         This proposed legislation seeks the transfer of 
         unappropriated public lands, owned and administered 
         by the United States, to the State of Oregon. If 
         enacted, the legislation would further the attempts 
         of certain other western states to accomplish a  
         nationwide transfer of federal lands into state 
         This transfer would gravely affect the lives and 
         fortunes of the Columbia River Treaty Tribes -- the 
         Nez Perce of Idaho, Confederated Tribes of the 
         Umatilla Reservation, Confederated Tribes of the 
         Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon,  and 
         Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakima Indian 
         Nation -- member tribes of the Columbia River Inter-
         Tribal Fish Commission. The Commission therefore 
         opposes HB 2982.  
         The Columbia River Treaty Tribes reserved certain 
         rights in treaties by which vast amounts of land in 
         the Columbia River Basin were ceded to the United 
         States. The Tribes reserved the right of taking fish 
         at all usual and accustomed stations, as well as 
         the right to hunt, gather roots and berries, and 
         pasture stock on the unappropriated public lands. 
         The Tribes exercise these treaty rights on natural  
         forests, public domain lands, and other lands owned 
         by the people of this nation and administered by the 
         federal government.  
         Federal land management agencies owe a trust duty to 
         the tribes and can be held to the highest fiduciary 
         standards in the administration of public lands. 
         This trust responsibility is uniquely federal. 
         States have no comparable obligations, and their  
         powers and potential actions as trustees are at best 
         uncertain. A clearly defined and enforceable trust 
         responsibility, to Indians and to the land and 
         resources they share with all other United States 
         citizens, is vital to the future of the Columbia 
         River Treaty Tribes.  
         Public lands are administered under federal statutes 
         that direct management for many public uses and that 
         mandate resource conservation, including protection 
         of fish and wildlife and their habitat. Other 
         statutes require that federal agencies take  
         environmental and social costs into account in 
         making resource decisions. And still other federal 
         laws give citizens the opportunity to participate in 
         the decision-making process.  

         The state of Oregon does not have equivalent laws, 
         and thus the framework for public land management in 
         the public interest is wholly lacking. Further, 
         proper administration of public lands demands large 
         expenditures of money. Should the proposed transfer 
         of federal lands to the states become a reality, 
         Oregon would be burdened with the cost of greatly 
         expanded state agencies at a time when the state  
         faces a financial crisis. Oregon's status as a 
         trustee, however uncertain, would also entail 
         significant immediate and long-term costs.  
         Another important issue is involved in transferring 
         public lands to the states: These lands are now 
         accessible to everyone, and the resources upon them 
         benefit all citizens, including the Columbia River 
         Treaty Tribes who depend upon them for livelihood 
         and for perpetuation of their culture. History has 
         shown that if federal lands go into state ownership, 
         there is great danger that these lands will 
         thereafter be conveyed to private interests. Of 
         nearly seven million acres that the United States  
         granted to Oregon when it became a state, over six 
         million are now privately owned. What once were 
         public lands and resources are now unavailable to 
         the public.  
     THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: that for all the above reasons the 
     Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians strongly urge the 
     Oregon legislature to reject any attempt to transfer public 
     lands to the state. This resolution expresses the certainty 
     that defeat of HB 2982 will be in the best interests of the 
     people of Oregon and of the nation.  
     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: that the Affiliated Tribes of 
     Northwest Indians urge the Oregon State Legislature to 
     defeat HB 3185, a bill equivalent to HB 2982 except that the 
     national forest lands are exempted from transfer to the 
     state, and to defeat HB 2987, accessory legislation to HB 
     2982 that would appoint a study commission to research the 
     public land transfer.  

     The foregoing resolution has been adopted at the special 
     meeting of the Executive Council of the Affiliated Tribes of 
     Northwest Indians May 26, 1981 at the Sheraton Hotel, 
     Spokane, Washington.  
     _________________________________     ______________________
     Connie Skanen, Executive Director     Russell Jim, President 
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