(PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.)
113th Congress Report
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
2d Session 113-590
GUN LAKE TRUST LAND REAFFIRMATION ACT
September 15, 2014.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on
the State of the Union and ordered to be printed
Mr. Hastings of Washington, from the Committee on Natural Resources,
submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany S. 1603]
[Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]
The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred
the bill (S. 1603) to reaffirm that certain land has been taken
into trust for the benefit of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band
of Pottawatami Indians, and for other purposes, having
considered the same, report favorably thereon without amendment
and recommend that the bill do pass.
PURPOSE OF THE BILL
The purpose of S. 1603 is to reaffirm that certain land has
been taken into trust for the benefit of the Match-E-Be-Nash-
She-Wish Band of Pottawatami Indians.
BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION
S. 1603 ratifies and confirms the trust status of a 147-
acre parcel of land known as the Bradley Property for the Gun
Lake Tribe of Michigan (also called the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-
Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians). The Secretary of the
Interior acquired the land in 2001 in trust for benefit of the
Gun Lake Tribe using the authority of Section 5 of the Indian
Reorganization Act of 1934 (IRA, 25 U.S.C. 465). The Bradley
Property, located in Wayland, Michigan, 24 miles south of Grand
Rapids, is the location for a casino operated by the tribe
pursuant to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 (IGRA, 25
U.S.C. 2701 et seq.). IGRA requires an Indian casino to operate
on a reservation or trust land. If S. 1603 fails to be enacted,
the continued operation of the Gun Lake Tribe casino will be
placed in jeopardy.
The need for S. 1603 stems from what is now understood to
be a likely unlawful acquisition of land by the Secretary for
the Gun Lake Tribe in 2001. In 2009, the Supreme Court
clarified that Section 5 of IRA does not authorize the
acquisition of land in trust for a tribe, such as Gun Lake,
whose members were not recognized and under federal
jurisdiction on the date of enactment of IRA, or June 18, 1934.
Carcieri v. Salazar (555 U.S. 379 (2009)).
The legislative history surrounding the development of IRA
demonstrates the intent of Congress in Section 5 was to rebuild
the decimated land base of Indian reservations subjected to the
operation of the General Allotment Act (Dawes Act) of February
8, 1887, and related allotment laws enacted in that era of
federal Indian policy. The allotment-era reservations are well-
known and long-established; they are typically west of the
Mississippi River in large reservations established under Act,
treaty, or Executive Order, and characterized by checker-
boarded land ownership stemming from the allotment process
(distributing 80 or 160-acre allotments to individual Indians
on the reservation) and the opening of surplus reservation
lands to non-Indian homesteading.
Information provided to the Committee by the Department of
the Interior does not conclusively show that Gun Lake is a
tribe that was recognized and under federal jurisdiction when
the IRA was enacted in 1934. Rather, the Department has
provided scant information to the Committee regarding the
status of any tribe in 1934 except for legal memoranda and
various other records of questionable relevancy and accuracy.
Accordingly, S. 1603 is necessary for the Secretary to
lawfully hold the Bradley Property in trust. Fortunately, the
Secretary, agreeing with the need for the bill, supports S.
In addition to declaring the Bradley Property to be held in
trust, S. 1603 would void a pending lawsuit challenging the
lawfulness of the Secretary's original action to acquire the
Bradley Property. The lawsuit, filed by a neighboring private
landowner named David Patchak, has been dormant for most of the
last two years since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Patchak's
standing to pursue the action. The legislation also forecloses,
notwithstanding any other provision of law, ``any action . . .
relating to the land . . .'' (Sec. 2(b)). While this is an
unusually broad grant of immunity from lawsuits pertaining to
the Bradley Property, no one has brought any concerns with the
language to the attention of the Committee.
Approval of S. 1603 is not intended to validate, or set a
precedent for validating or ratifying, unauthorized actions
undertaken by the Secretary, including continuing actions by
the Secretary which are inconsistent with Carcieri v. Salazar
(555 U.S. 379 (2009)). The bill does not change general Indian
law or policy. Rather, it ratifies the trust status of a
discrete parcel of land. Section 2(c) of S. 1603 expressly
provides that nothing alters the effect of Carcieri for any
other action undertaken by the Secretary in the past, present,
S. 1603 is necessary because there is no consensus in
Congress on how to address Carcieri. Moreover, the Department
of the Interior's views regarding the need for addressing
Carcieri are inconsistent. On the one hand, the Department has
submitted testimony to the committees of jurisdiction declaring
strongly support for a full reversal of the Supreme Court
ruling. On the other hand, in 2013 ``the Bureau of Indian
Affairs [announced that it] approved the 1,200th individual
application since 2009 for taking land into trust for tribal
governments, bringing the total to more than 208,000 acres.''
(Interior press release, June 27, 2013). This amounts to more
land taken into trust than by the previous Administration
during the same time period. The Department cannot say it needs
a reversal of Carcieri at the same time it is acquiring
hundreds of thousands of acres of land in trust for tribes
using the authority of the IRA. Until the conflict between the
Department's words and actions are reconciled, consideration of
bills to take specific lands in trust, as long as they have the
support of the elected representatives for the affected lands,
tribes, and communities, is the appropriate means of resolving
trust land matters.
S. 1603 was introduced on October 29, 2013, by Senator
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). On June 19, 2014, the bill passed the
Senate by unanimous consent without amendment. The bill was
then referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, and within
the Committee to the Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native
Affairs. On July 15, 2014, the Subcommittee held a hearing on
the bill. On July 30, 2014, the Natural Resources Committee met
to consider S. 1603. The Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska
Native Affairs was discharged by unanimous consent. Congressman
Paul A. Gosar (R-AZ) offered an amendment designated .184 to
the bill; the amendment was withdrawn. No further amendments
were offered and the bill was adopted and ordered favorably
reported to the House of Representatives by voice vote.
COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Regarding clause 2(b)(1) of rule X and clause 3(c)(1) of
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the
Committee on Natural Resources' oversight findings and
recommendations are reflected in the body of this report.
COMPLIANCE WITH HOUSE RULE XIII
1. Cost of Legislation. Clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII of the
Rules of the House of Representatives requires an estimate and
a comparison by the Committee of the costs which would be
incurred in carrying out this bill. However, clause 3(d)(2)(B)
of that rule provides that this requirement does not apply when
the Committee has included in its report a timely submitted
cost estimate of the bill prepared by the Director of the
Congressional Budget Office under section 402 of the
Congressional Budget Act of 1974. Under clause 3(c)(3) of rule
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and section
403 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee has
received the following cost estimate for this bill from the
Director of the Congressional Budget Office:
S. 1603--Gun Lake Trust Land Reaffirmation Act
S. 1603 would reaffirm the status of lands taken into trust
by the Department of the Interior (DOI) for the benefit of the
Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians in the
state of Michigan. The legislation also would prohibit any
lawsuits related to the trust land. In 2012, the Supreme Court
ruled that DOI lacked the authority to take nearly 150 acres
Based on information provided by DOI, CBO estimates that
implementing the legislation would have no significant effect
on the federal budget. The legislation would not significantly
increase the cost of managing tribal trust lands. Enacting S.
1603 would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore,
pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
S. 1603 contains an intergovernmental and private-sector
mandate as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA)
because it would end rights of action for public and private
entities that are currently able to pursue legal actions
related to the land held in trust for the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-
Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians. The act would prohibit any
action relating to the trust land from being brought or
maintained in a federal court. The cost of the mandate would be
any forgone compensation that would have been awarded through
The state of Michigan and several local governments have
entered into an agreement with the tribe related to the use of
the land, and CBO believes it is unlikely that, absent
enactment of S. 1603, any other public entity would bring an
action that would result in significant compensation.
Therefore, CBO estimates the cost of the intergovernmental
mandate would not exceed the annual threshold established in
UMRA for such mandates ($76 million, in 2014, adjusted annually
Private entities, however, have no such agreement, and S.
1603 would extinguish all rights to legal actions relating to
the trust lands. Awards in such claims are in many cases
limited to the value of the land. Because of the commercial
properties located on the trust land, the value of awards
related to those lands could be significant. However, because
both the number of claims that could be barred or terminated
and the value of forgone compensation stemming from those
claims are uncertain, CBO has no basis for estimating the cost
of the mandate. Therefore, CBO cannot determine whether the
cost of the private-sector mandate would exceed the annual
threshold established in UMRA for such mandates ($152 million,
in 2014, adjusted annually for inflation).
On June 17, 2014, CBO transmitted a cost estimate for S.
1603 as ordered reported by the Senate Committee on Indian
Affairs on May 21, 2014. The versions of the legislation are
similar, and the CBO cost estimates are the same.
The CBO staff contacts for this estimate are Martin von
Gnechten (for federal costs), Melissa Merrell (for the state
and local impact), and Mann Burnett (for the private-sector
impact). The estimate was approved by Peter H. Fontaine,
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.
2. Section 308(a) of Congressional Budget Act. As required
by clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of
Representatives and section 308(a) of the Congressional Budget
Act of 1974, this bill does not contain any new budget
authority, spending authority, credit authority, or an increase
or decrease in revenues or tax expenditures. Based on
information provided by the Department of the Interior, CBO
estimates that implementing the legislation would have no
significant effect on the federal budget.
3. General Performance Goals and Objectives. As required by
clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII, the general performance goal or
objective of this bill is to reaffirm that certain land has
been taken into trust for the benefit of the Match-E-Be-Nash-
She-Wish Band of Pottawatami Indians.
This bill does not contain any Congressional earmarks,
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined
under clause 9(e), 9(f), and 9(g) of rule XXI of the Rules of
the House of Representatives.
COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC LAW 104-4
This bill contains no intergovernmental unfunded mandates.
The Congressional Budget Office was unable to determine if the
legislation contained a private-sector mandate as defined under
Public Law 104-4.
COMPLIANCE WITH H. RES. 5
Directed Rule Making. The Chairman does not believe that
this bill directs any executive branch official to conduct any
specific rule-making proceedings.
Duplication of Existing Programs. This bill does not
establish or reauthorize a program of the federal government
known to be duplicative of another program. Such program was
not included in any report from the Government Accountability
Office to Congress pursuant to section 21 of Public Law 111-139
or identified in the most recent Catalog of Federal Domestic
Assistance published pursuant to the Federal Program
Information Act (Public Law 95-220, as amended by Public Law
98-169) as relating to other programs.
PREEMPTION OF STATE, LOCAL OR TRIBAL LAW
This bill is not intended to preempt any State, local or
CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW
If enacted, this bill would make no changes in existing