SANTA FE, N.M. (Jan. 5, 2016) - U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) joined Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo Governor Earl N. Salazar and U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Acting Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Larry Roberts at a signing ceremony in New Mexico yesterday to formally approve new tribal leasing regulations that give the Pueblo greater control of leasing on tribal lands. The agreement was made possible through the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership (HEARTH) Act, a bill sponsored by then-Representative Heinrich, and signed into law in 2012, which gives tribes the option of approving federal trust land leases for residential, business, renewable energy, and other purposes directly through tribal regulations, rather than waiting for approval from DOI's Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).
"I'm honored to join the people of Ohkay Owingeh to mark this milestone in strengthening self-determination and tribal sovereignty, and open doors to more jobs and economic development in Indian Country," said Sen. Heinrich. "The last thing the federal government should do is stand in the way of a family who wants to buy a home. This agreement through the HEARTH Act will make it easier for Native families to buy houses and open businesses in the communities where their families have lived for generations."
Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo is the first nation this year to receive HEARTH Act approval and is now the 23rd tribe and second in New Mexico to sign an agreement. The first tribe in New Mexico to receive HEARTH Act approval was the Pueblo of Sandia in 2013.