AZRE Magazine March/April 2013

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Courtyard by Marriott

GETTING STARTED >> Understand that tribes are sovereign nations. >> Remember that the federal government still has certain authorities over enacting laws that affect tribal governments and their land.

While the rules and regulations can quickly get complicated when dealing with the three governments — tribal, federal and state — there has been a recent move to make at least one of those processes easier. The helping Expedite and Advance Responsible tribal home ownership Act of 2012 (hEARth Act), approved by the u.s. Congress in 2012, will help streamline how Indian tribes get approval to develop the lands that are held in trust for the them by the federal government. “The hEARth Act promotes greater tribal self-determination and will help create jobs in Indian Country. under the Act, federally recognized tribes can develop and implement their own regulations governing certain leasing on Indian lands. upon secretarial approval of these tribal regulations, tribes will have the authority to process land leases without bureau of Indian Affairs approval,” according to the White house website. “Th is new authority has the potential to significantly reduce the time it takes to approve leases for homes and small businesses in Indian Country.” “There’s no question the hEARth Act will facilitate development on the reservation.” Rubacha says. Attorney Roger owers of kaibab law offices says that while the hEARth Act should remedy some of the long wait times, it doesn’t guarantee approval — especially for developments on allotted lands that will still have to go through

the bureau of Indian Affairs. “tribes may not get approval the fi rst time, but at least they will get direction from the b.I.A. within a certain time frame,” owers says. Th is means that at least the paperwork is moving along and problems can be fi xed more quickly so applications can be resubmitted for approval in a timely fashion. tribes have another way to help facilitate developments on their lands, making it more attractive to do business with them. lujan says tribes can make themselves more appealing to developers by having all of their laws available and transparent, and by having development areas already defi ned. If a tribe has already set the base for development things become much easier for everyone involved and at that point a developer would just need to get a permit and then start working, lujan says. “The key for tribes is to get ahead of the game, that way they can just bringing in a developer,” he adds. After all, the benefits for doing business in Indian Country are what attract many developers and the bureaucracy is what can drive them away. There are benefits for both the tribe and the developer that usually outweigh the problems. “for developers there are certain advantages to locating on tribal land that are not otherwise available off reservation or available to the extent

>> Do your research on the tribe you hope to work with. Visit their website, learn about their culture, and know what kinds of developments they have done in the past. Tribes tend to look for high quality developments that adhere to tribal values and aesthetics. >> After you have done all your background research, then approach the tribe. Usually the best place to start is with a tribe’s Department of Economic Development. >> When everything is starting to come together it wouldn’t hurt to have an attorney who knows the subject matter look over your project and contract to help you know what you are getting into. Sources: Vince Lujan; Diane Humetewa

on-reservation,” lujan says. “for example, there are federal employment tax credits, accelerated depreciation, high visibility on the commercial corridor at salt River, competitive lease rates and unchartered territory open to one’s imagination.” In turn, the tribe will benefit from new tax revenue, increased jobs, and retail services that weren’t there before. Money will stay on the reservation and the tribe will have access to services that they would have to drive off of the reservation for otherwise. 31