If anyone should get Idaho’s 32 million acres of public land, it should be the Indian tribes, tribal leaders said.
“If Congress is to transfer title to any lands they should transfer them to their original owners the Indian tribes,” said Helo Hancock, Legislative Director of Coeur d’Alene Tribe.
Representatives of three of Idaho’s Indian tribes testified Monday before the Idaho Legislature’s Federal Lands Interim Committee. Their clear message is that the tribes have treaty rights to hunt, fish and gather on these public lands and they don’t support transferring them to the state.
“The tribes unequivocally oppose this notion,” said Nathan Small, chairman of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.
The federal lands are, Small said, to “protect that way of life and not to satisfy the few corporate or special interests.”
Under questioning, the tribal representatives said any transfer of federal land to state would bring legal challenges from the tribes. Treaties would either be in breach or have to be renegotiated.