Who – Trump’s Native American Affairs Coalition

What – Placing Native American reservations into private ownership

Where – 56 million acres of Native American land

How – There are currently no details on how the NAAC proposes to allocate ownership of rights or ensure these rights remain under Native American control.

Why – Native American reservation land hold an estimated 1.5 trillion dollars-worth of energy resources, including 20% of untapped oil and gas reserves in America. Currently, the land is untapped or heavily regulated due to the historical nature of the land. 

General Background – The issue of Native American reservations dates back to the 19th century, when the controversial Dawes Act of 1887 gave Native Americans land in exchange for becoming American citizens, essentially separating those who agreed from their tribes in an attempt to assimilate Native Americans. In the following decades, speculators, criminals, and the American government took advantage of Native American unfamiliarity, resulting in the loss of 90 million acres to privatization, a destruction of tribal social structure, and unsustainable land allotments. In addition, Congress implemented a termination policy in 1953, removing 2.5 million acres of tribal land throughout the following decade. The current proposals have the potential to reinstate similar policies.

What’s Next – With a Trump presidency and Republican control of all three branches of government, passing this proposal is viable and will be nearly impossible to overturn in court. Privatization would deregulate the development of Native American tribal land while also allowing private companies to involve themselves in such development.

Pertinent Information – The NAAC’s leadership is influenced by oil industry lobbying:

Markwayne Mullin – Republican US Representative from Oklahoma

  • Received approximately eight percent of his campaign funding from energy companies

Sharon Clahchischilliage – Republican New Mexico State Representative

  • Received approximately 15% of funding from energy firms

Ross Swimmer – Partner at a Native American-focused investment fund heavily involved with oil and gas companies, including Energy Transfer Partners