Indian Issues:

Eastern Indian Land Claims and Their Resolution

RCED-94-157: Published: Jun 22, 1994. Publicly Released: Jul 26, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed: (1) information on land claims made by eastern Indians in the past 20 years; (2) how these claims were resolved; and (3) actions that Congress could take to mitigate the unpredictability and impact of Indian land claims.

GAO found that: (1) over the last 20 years, at least 21 lawsuits have been initiated by 22 Indian tribes or groups in seven eastern states and Louisiana; (2) the claims generally have been based on the assertion that past transfers of land by the tribes were invalid because they had not received congressional approval; (3) of the 21 lawsuits, 7 were dismissed by the courts, 6 were resolved through negotiations, and 8 remain in various stages of litigation or negotiation; (4) the legislation formalizing the settlements cleared the current landowners' titles, provided the Indian claimants with land and money, and limited the time in which the legislated agreements could be challenged; and (5) Congress could address many concerns by establishing a certain period of time for Indian tribes to assert claims and creating a framework for the federal government to assist in the negotiation and resolution of land claims.

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