Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribes Call on President Obama to Recognize Tribes' Ownership of the Fort Reno Lands

Mar 21, 2012, 14:27 ET from Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribes

FORT RENO, Okla., March 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- On his visit to Oklahoma this week, Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe members called on President Obama to recognize their rightful ownership of the Fort Reno lands and reaffirm their sovereignty and economic opportunities in connection with them.

"We ask that President Obama finally recognize what so many generations of our ancestors have been fighting for: our right to our tribal lands," said Gov. Janice Boswell of the Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribe. "He should do it not for politics, and not for money, but because it is the right thing to do. If you want hope and change, Mr. President, you can bring it to Oklahoma with a stroke of your pen."

The property, known as the Fort Reno Military Reservation, is the traditional and historic tribal lands of the Cheyenne-Arapaho people. The U.S. government forced the tribe off the land in the late 19th century, promising its return when the military no longer needed it. Since then, the lands have been the subject of continuous legal and political battles, and yet the tribe still has not regained the rights to it.

The Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribes have gone through extensive efforts to reclaim the land, filing lawsuits and writing to both the President and Members of Congress. At the 2008 Democratic Convention, The national Congress of American Indians and the Native American Caucus called for the return of the lands.

Both Native American and Washington officials cite the fact that the USDA research facility there has already become redundant and outdated, therefore better uses for the land could be found. Gov. Boswell has stated that, upon receipt of the land, her people will participate in and actively support development initiatives that are environmentally and culturally responsible. These include mineral development, preservation of the existing military facilities, and partnering with the University of Oklahoma and USA to continue local research.  

The Cheyenne-Arapaho, along with other tribes, are concerned that of the 39 recognized tribes in the state only the larger ones receive preferable treatment. Many of the larger tribes who own big casinos have been able to buy influence in Washington to continue their agenda, many tribes believe. They hope the President's visit will give him an opportunity to make a bold statement that he will treat all tribes equally.

SOURCE Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribes