Chief Boswell Responds to Attempt to Keep Tribes Away From Fort Reno

LIGHTNING RELEASES: Concho, OK (Dec. 16, 2013) – “Hypocritical cynicism” is what Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal Governor Janice Boswell stated when hearing about the latest congressional attempt to keep the tribes away from Fort Reno.

“Fort Reno is all that is left of our original 51.6 million acre reservation. It was never ceded, settled for, or otherwise conveyed. It should have been returned over a half century ago when the military – for which it was exclusively set aside in 1883 – abandoned its use.”

“But for the classification of documents surrounding the status of Fort Reno pursuant to the National Security Act in the 1950s, the true status and the tribes’ legitimate claim to these lands would have been known to the public long ago. Even the courts, while dismissing the tribes’ claim procedurally due to the 12-year statute of limitations, recognized that title to Fort Reno is clouded.”

“By extending the language in the 2008 Farm Bill prohibiting the use of the ‘excess’ provision of the Surplus Property Act, 40 USC 483 (a) (2), congress knows exactly what it is doing. Even the Congressional Research Service found the facility is redundant, outdated and duplicative and the only research done there that is worthwhile – wheat pasture research – is done cooperatively with Oklahoma State University at a fraction of the cost. ABC’s Nightly News found it a ‘form of national pork’ in a ‘Your Money’ piece.”

“At best, this attempted action is hypocritical spending. At worst, it is a cynical ploy to divide by once again denying the return of these lands to a long-suffering group of Americans. We will not be deterred and call upon congress to reject Section 7512 in the proposed Farm Bill, which purports to extend the prohibition placed in the 2002 and 2008 farm bills so that the administration can be free to return these lands to the tribes.”

Media Contact: Andrew Moesel (212) 725-2378