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Cole, Mullin, and Russell Applaud Passage of H.R. 2606, The Stigler Act Amendment of 2018

September 12, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) along with Representatives Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) and Steve Russell (OK-05) released the following statement after H.R. 2606, the Stigler Act Amendment of 2017, passed the House of Representatives by a voice vote. This legislation amends the Stigler Act of 1947, which restricts Native American allotted land to only persons of ½ degree of Native American blood.

The Dawes Act of 1887 authorized the federal government to survey tribal lands and divide them into allotted parcels for individual Native Americans. Title to these allotment parcels was set forth in the “Stigler Act of 1947.” The Stigler Act provides that, upon probate, if the heirs and devisees of an original allottee from the Five Tribes (Chickasaw, Choctaw, Seminole, Creek and Cherokee) have passed out of ½ degree Native American blood, the allotment loses its “restricted fee” status. Restricted land is not subject to state taxation. Federal law does not dictate a minimum Native American blood degree requirement for any other tribe.

The Stigler Act Amendment of 2017 seeks to amend the original Stigler Act, and remove the ½ degree requirement of Native American blood. In doing so, it would provide the opportunity for heirs and devisees to take title to the land, and allow the parcel to maintain its “restricted” status. This legislation will also create parity in federal law in the treatment of Native American-allotted land by removing minimum blood degree requirement for solely the Five Tribes.

“I am pleased that the Stigler Act has passed out of the House,” said Cole. “Amending the Stigler Act will undo this discriminatory law, and allow for past precedent to be current with the realities of Native-owned land. By eliminating the blood quantum requirement, the amendment will support the preservation of the rights and legacies that Native Americans are entitled to, as well as their inheritance. I am proud to have worked with the other Members of the Oklahoma Congressional delegation to achieve this, and I look forward to working with my Senate Colleagues to getting this important legislation to the President’s desk.”

“When the Stigler Act of 1947 was passed over 60 years ago, the federal government mandated a ½ blood quantum requirement for restricted land owned by members of the Five Tribes,” said Mullin.  “No other tribes in the United States faces this discriminatory measure.  For Native Americans, our land is an important part of our heritage and updating the Stigler Act will allow the land allotted to our ancestors to keep its restricted status and remain in the bloodline.  I am proud to be an original cosponsor of this legislation to let members of the Five Tribes keep the restricted status of their land within their families for generations to come.” 

“I look forward to the Senate approving this legislation and sending it to the President. Our Native American community in Oklahoma will be better off with this good bill signed into law,” said Russell.