Indian tribe accuses Biden administration of directly attacking their economy, sovereignty, and right to self-determination

by Peter Heck · Jan 24th, 2021 7:31 am
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Last Updated Jan 25th, 2021 at 5:32 pm

The Ute Indian Tribe issued a stinging rebuke of the Biden administration Friday, demanding an immediate amendment to the president's 60-day leasing and permitting ban. Chairman of the tribe's business committee, Luke Duncan, sent a strongly worded letter to Biden's acting Secretary of the Interior, Scott de la Vega.

"The Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation respectfully requests that you immediately amend Order No. 3395 to provide an exception for energy permits and approvals on Indian lands," Duncan wrote in the letter. "The Ute Indian Tribe and other energy producing tribes rely on energy development to fund our governments and provide services to our members.

Your order is a direct attack on our economy, sovereignty, and our right to self-determination. Indian lands are not federal public lands. Any action on our lands and interests can only be taken after effective tribal consultation," he instructed.

The tribe noted that by issuing an order that has such a direct negative economic impact on the "principles of tribal sovereignty and self-determination," it constituted a violation of U.S. treaty and trust obligations to the Ute Indians.

"Your order was also issued in violation of our government-to-government relationship, Executive Order No. 13175 on Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments, and Interior's own Policy on Consultation with Tribal Governments," they said.

Chairman Duncan demanded that Biden's order be withdrawn or amended, as it was not compliant, in current form, with federal law or with binding constitutional treaties.

The Biden administration has not yet given the Ute Indians any formal reply.


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