Joe Sexton Shines Bright Light on BIA's Badly Proposed Right-of-Way Regs

As featured on Turtle Talk, Joe Sexton has published a Galanda Broadman, PLLC, Occasional Paper, "21st Century Proposed BIA Indian Land Regs In a 19th Century State of Mind."   An excerpt:

The Bureau of Indian Affairs’ (“BIA”) public comment period for proposed regulations governing “Indian lands” closes on November 28, 2014.[1]  These proposed regulations concern “rights-of-way” over Indian lands; or, the rights of non-owners—like farmers, railroads, utility companies, and outside government agencies, among others—to access and use Indian lands.


To those who may not be familiar with federal policy over Indian lands, Tribal Governments and Americans Indian individuals can do very little with their lands without the approval of the BIA’s suffocating bureaucracy.  Ironically, these are the same lands that were often promised to Tribes and their people by the federal government for their “exclusive use and benefit” in perpetuity.  For anyone who has a basic knowledge of this area of law, the regulatory revisions may seem to be an effort to streamline the mind-numbing bureaucratic processes Tribes and individual Indians must navigate to make even the most basic decisions regarding their lands.


But to those who has seen the absolute ineffective and often times arbitrary nature of the BIA’s bureaucracy when it comes to governing Indian lands, these regulatory revisions do nothing more than perpetuate a resilient legacy of harm to Indian Country through laws, regulations, and executive actions emanating from Washington D.C.

[1] Rights-of-way on Indian Land, 79 Fed. Reg. 34455 (June 17, 2014)(to be codified at 25 C.F.R. pt. 169); found online at:

Joe Sexton is Of Counsel with Galanda Broadman, PLLC.  Joe’s practice focuses on tribal sovereignty issues, including complex land and environmental issues, and economic development matters.  He can be reached at (509) 910-8842 and