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October 18, 2017

3/22/2017 11:16:00 AM
Reservation land

What is an Indian reserva-tion, territorially speaking?
“The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, School Edition, 1970, page 1106 has five definitions for reservation: Definition No. 1 reads: “The act of preserving; a keeping back or withholding.” Definitions No. 2 & No. 3 are similarly general. Definition No. 4 reads, “A tract of land set apart by the federal government for a special purpose; especially, one for the use of an American Indian people or a tribe.”  And, Definition No. 5 deals with hotel and travel reservations.
Definition No. 4 is germane in this discourse: Paraphrased, a reservation is U.S. fee-simple land, set aside for the use of a tribe. In other words; it’s U.S. land, “held in trust” for use by a tribe, for tribal purposes.
Further, we know a “trust” is an overseer of others activities, and the activities are to be per the rules of the trustee; i.e. the federal government, per the U.S. Constitution: This makes tribal members and the tribe “beneficiaries” thereof.
Fact: The U.S. historically created reservations. That said, some land parcels within a reservation have been sold and are privately held.
Thus, the question: Are those privately held fee-simple parcels component of a “reservation’s land area,” though not “held in trust” by the federal government, today?
Suggestion: The respective private, fee-simple property holders of parcels within the boundaries of a reservation should review their respective deeds to learn if there’s a reserve clause, therein.
It’s my understanding there is no reserve clause in those deeds. Thus, it follows that privately held fee-simple land, within the boundaries of a reservation are not component of the reservation, and reservation land is limited to U.S. fee-simple land, “held in trust.”
Roger Pederson
Bay View

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