Offices of Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) and Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02)
Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) and Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) issued the following statements after the U.S. House of Representatives approved the final version of H.R. 2606, the Stigler Act Amendments of 2018, which was passed by the Senate last week. First introduced by Cole and co-sponsored by Mullin in the House, the legislation amends the Stigler Act of 1947 to remove the one-half degree Native American blood quantum restriction for holders of tribal allotment land. The legislation specifically impacts citizens of Oklahoma’s Five Tribes: the Chickasaw, Cherokee, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole nations.
“I am pleased that both chambers of Congress approved changes to the misguided Stigler Act of 1947, which clearly discriminates against citizens of Oklahoma’s Five Tribes,” said Congressman Cole, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and co-chair of the Native American Caucus. “Without question and especially in Oklahoma, Native American heritage is something to be celebrated. But that special heritage must also be protected, preserved and passed on. Land ownership is part of that unique inheritance for many tribal citizens and their descendants, and over the years, the Stigler Act has unfortunately diminished that rightful inheritance due to an unfair blood quantum requirement. By amending the Stigler Act, I am proud that the rights and privileges promised to all Native Americans will also be extended to Oklahoma’s Five Tribes. In getting this important legislation to the president’s desk, I am very grateful for the strong support offered by Oklahoma’s entire congressional delegation.”
“Today marks another great step forward for Native Americans and the land they call home,” said Congressman Markwayne Mullin, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and vice-chair of the Native American Caucus. “Land that is handed down from generation to generation in Native American families is a part of our culture. It is what allows families like mine to continually pass their family’s history on to the next generation. The members of the Five Tribes deserve the right to hand down their history without blood quantum requirements—just like members of every other tribe can. I look forward to the president signing the Stigler Act Amendments into law.”
The Dawes Act of 1887 authorized the federal government to survey tribal lands and divide them into allotments for individual tribal citizens of Oklahoma’s Five Tribes. Title to these allotments was then set forth in the Stigler Act of 1947, requiring heirs and devisees have at least one-half degree Native American blood to retain “restricted fee” status of allotted land. Restricted land is not subject to state taxation. Federal law does not dictate a minimum Native American blood quantum requirement for any other tribe with regards to its territory. In amending the original Stigler Act, heirs and devisees are given the opportunity to take title to allotted land and allow the parcel to maintain its “restricted fee” status. By removing the blood quantum requirement imposed on citizens of Oklahoma’s Five Tribes, the legislation also creates parity in federal law in the treatment of Native Americans.