Guam Senator Calls For 'Indian Tribe' Status To Protect Native Lands

San Nicolas pushes Congresswoman Bordallo to push for federal recognition

By John I Borja

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Oct. 3, 2017) – A new resolution by Sen. Michael San Nicolas, D-Dededo calls on Guam's congresswoman to seek Indian tribe status for Chamorros in order to protect native lands.

According to Resolution 255-34, "federal recognition of the native Chamorros as an Indian tribe would allow the Chamorro people to incorporate Chamorro Land Trust lands as tribal land to the benefit of the native Chamorro population."

The resolution comes after a recent lawsuit, in which the U.S. government sued the government of Guam and the Chamorro Land Trust Commission for allegedly violating the Fair Housing Act.

Chamorro Land Trust benefits Guam's indigenous people, who can apply for residential and agriculture leases of properties held by the Land Trust. The commission also leases some of the land for commercial use to non-natives as a source of revenue.

"The Chamorro people have been and will forever be the native peoples of Guam," San Nicolas said in a news release. "To secure the proper federal tribal recognition of the Chamorro people and the Chamorro lands so designated by the Chamorro Land Trust is the right thing to do."

San Nicolas' resolution urges Guam Del. Madeleine Bordallo to introduce legislation to Congress that would grant Chamorros the recognition of an Indian tribe, and further recognize Chamorro Land Trust lands as "Chamorro tribal lands."

The U.S. Department of the Interior's Indian Affairs describes a federally recognized tribe as "an American Indian or Alaska Native tribal entity that is recognized as having a government-to-government relationship with the United States, with the responsibilities, powers, limitations, and obligations attached to that designation, and is eligible for funding and services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs."

According to the Code of Federal Regulations, petitioners who wish to be recognized as an Indian tribe must have been identified as an American Indian entity since 1900. Evidence for identification includes sources such as anthropologists, historians, books, federal organizations and other federally recognized Indian tribes.

Indian Affairs states there are currently 567 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and villages.

Pacific Daily News
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