WASHINGTON D.C. – The U.S. House and Senate unanimously passed legislation that will allow allotted lands held by citizens of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Muskogee (Creek) and Seminole Nations to remain restricted, even if the heir to the land has less than one-half blood quantum. No other American Indian nation in the United States has had this restriction. H.R. 2606, the Stigler Act Amendments of 2018, overcomes the blood quantum requirements of the 60-year-old Stigler Act of 1947.
The news was greeted with strong support from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
“The Choctaw Nation is pleased with the passing of the Stigler Act amendments by the House of Representatives and Senate, which has now been signed into law by the president,” Chief Gary Patton said. “This legislation is a tremendous win for all Oklahoma tribes and Native Americans in the state. Native people will be better able to protect tribal lands and maintain generation-to-generation ownership and connection to our land.”
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, including the Choctaw Nation. Title to these allotments was then outlined in the Stigler Act of 1947, requiring heirs have at least one-half degree tribal blood to retain “restricted fee” status of allotted land, not subject to state taxation. In the early 1900s, the Five Tribes had 15 million acres in restricted fee status in Oklahoma. By 2015, that number was down to 381,000 acres.