REALTY & LAND USE

Supporting the Tribe in all capacities pertaining to acquisition, management, and disposal of fee-owned and trust lands.

Tribal realty & land use staff provide expert assistance

The Constitution of the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians (“Tribe”) established a Tribal Government to do many things including securing inherent rights and powers, preserving and promoting the Tribe’s interests, and natural resource management to achieve economic and social self-sufficiency for the Tribe and its members.

The Tribal Constitution further vests in the Tribal Government with authority over all persons, property, activities, lands, waters, airspace, minerals, wildlife, and other resources found within the Tribe’s jurisdiction and territory.

The hard lesson history teaches us is that all these important Tribal functions require ownership and control of a safe and secure Tribal homeland. That is why the reacquisition and stewardship of a Tribal land base is such a crucial element of Tribal self-governance and self-determination, both now and for future generations of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians.

Under our Constitution, the Tribal Council is vested with general authority over most aspects of Tribal real property and trust lands. The Tribal Council in turn relies on the Tribal Realty & Land Use staff, working closely with our General Legal Counsel, to carry out this important work to ensure that—

  • The Tribe acquires a clear title to all property rights and interests it has bargained and/or paid for
  • The Tribe does not acquire real property or trust lands burdened with environmental or legal problems which could jeopardize the Tribe’s economic investment or frustrate the Tribe’s intended use of the property
  • The Tribe’s substantial economic investments in real property are protected in the short- and long-term
  • The Tribe is protected from legal liability when people or businesses are allowed to use Tribal fee-owned real property or trust lands

To achieve these important goals, the Tribal Realty & Land Use staff supports the Tribe in all capacities pertaining to the acquisition, management, and disposal of Tribal fee-owned and trust lands. Related activities include realty actions in support of reservation proclamation, encroachment control, environmental coordination, land use planning, construction, road building, and economic development.

Realty acquisition may involve the purchase of interests or rights in real property in much the same way as an individual might buy a home. Real property may also be acquired by donation from a private party, or it may be acquired in fee or in trust from a state or federal agency.

Acquired interests or rights may be superior to all others, such as with a fee acquisition of land by the Tribe. In other instances, acquired property interests or rights may only confer “beneficial ownership” such as with land held in trust by the federal government. The Tribe may also acquire limited use rights such as an easement to cross another’s private property, or a lease to occupy and use another’s property for a period of time.

When the Tribe acquires real property in fee as private property, the Tribe can (subject to certain limitations discussed below) develop and use the property, use it as collateral or security for a loan, allow others to use it under a lease or easement, and dispose of the property if it is no longer needed for Tribal purposes.

When the Tribe acquires ‘beneficial ownership’ rights in real property that has been taken into trust by the United States, the Tribe can (subject to certain limitations discussed below) develop and use the property, and may grant permission for others to use the property to the Tribe’s benefit. Trust status may also afford the Tribe civil and criminal over that tract of land (regardless of its formal designation as “reservation” land), exempts the property from property taxes, and exempts the property from state and local land use controls (zoning, etc.).

Realty and land use management by any tribal government primarily involves the granting, monitoring, and termination of non-tribal use of tribal real property on a non-permanent and/or non-exclusive basis (e.g., leases, easements, permits, or licenses).

Many day-to-day uses of Tribal real property do not require any tribal realty action at all. Examples include patrons visiting one of our casinos, non-tribal persons attending a meeting at the Tribe’s offices, employees or contractors hired to staff or maintain the Tribe’s properties, or use of Tribal property by a Tribal Enterprise.

However, when a property use becomes more than casual or occasional, or when the non-tribal person or business gains a significant degree of control or custody over tribal real property, a realty out-grant such as a license, permit, easement, or lease may be necessary to regulate the use and to limit legal liabilities.

Realty disposal involves the sale, relinquishment, donation, or abandonment of rights or interests in Tribe-owned real property or trust land which is no longer needed by the Tribe.

Under current federal law, the Tribe’s authority to dispose of Tribe-owned (fee) real property is limited by the Indian Non-intercourse Act of 1790 (codified as amended at 25 U.S.C. § 177).

While disposal of trust or reservation land is possible, it is extremely difficult to accomplish. In addition to requiring approval by the Tribe’s General Council, disposal of trust or reservation land requires Congressional authority, Interior Department concurrence, BIA realty execution, and possible participation by one or more other federal agencies.

Fee-to-trust is a unique Indian Country realty action that combines elements of reality acquisition, management, and disposal.

In fee-to-trust, the Tribe offers to donate legal ownership of the fee-owned real property to the United States of America. Through a fee-to-trust conveyance, the Tribe relinquishes its title and ownership in the real property. In exchange, future ‘beneficial ownership’ of the property can only be lost to the Tribe through Congressional action.

Acceptance of property in trust by the Secretary of the Interior may be mandated by Congress, and is called a “non-discretionary” fee-to-trust action. In other instances, acceptance of the Tribe’s property may be left to the discretion of the Secretary of the Interior (or his/her delegate), and is called a “discretionary” fee-to-trust action.

Once accepted into trust by the federal government, the land is exempt from state and local land use controls and property taxation. However, following the acquisition in trust the property can usually no longer be disposed of, used as collateral to secure financing, or leased to others without BIA realty assistance or approval.

Reservation Proclamation is a program administered by BIA which authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to add trust lands to an existing reservation under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 (25 U.S.C. § 467).

An excellent presentation prepared by a Department of the Interior Solicitor (attorney) linked here provides a good discussion of the benefits of doing so.

With Tribal Council approval we hope to focus on obtaining Reservation status for our 121.5 acres of non-Reservation trust land during the remaining months of the Obama presidency while there remains assured political support for this important effort to permanently protect our Tribe’s legal status with respect to our trust lands.

Encroachment Control may be required when one neighbor, inadvertently or intentionally, uses part of a neighbor’s property. The most usual situation is a misplaced fence or retaining wall but more serious situations can and do arise. The Tribal Realty & land Use staff works hard to ensure the Tribe does not acquire property with unresolved encroachment issues. However, if you suspect an encroachment issue exists on Tribal property, please discuss it with Tribal law enforcement or realty staff.

Environmental Coordination may be necessary at the realty acquisition, management, and disposal stages. The most common environmental issues are NEPA compliance triggered by BIA approvals or realty or development actions on trust lands, and contaminants issues discovered on Tribal lands (underground storage tanks, old landfills, etc.). The Tribal Realty & Land Use staff works hard to make sure we do not acquire property in the future with unresolved environmental issues. However, if you suspect an environmental issue exists on Tribal property, please discuss it with Tribal realty & land use staff without delay.

Planning, Construction, Road Building, and Economic Development all require careful attention to state and federal land use restrictions, both before and after land acquisition. The Tribal Realty & Land Use staff provides expert assistance to help ensure the Tribe has all the property interests required to support a project, and to help ensure the Tribe can legally utilize its real property resources to further the Tribe’s goals and requirements.

The following matters are outside the Realty Program AOR—

  • The Tribal Realty & Land Use staff does not assist individual Tribal members or employees in buying, selling, or leasing residential or commercial property. Please contact a licensed and reputable real estate broker in your local community for assistance with these kinds of transactions.
  • Official use or occupancy of Tribal real property and trust lands by the Tribal Government does not require any Realty Program action.
    • Routine management issues relating to particular Tribal properties should be addressed to the appropriate department or facility manager, or to Director of Operations Thomas Latta
    • Routine law enforcement issues or questions should be directed to the Tribal Police Department
      • For ALL emergencies (fire, criminal trespass, vandalism in progress, etc.) do not wait for regular Tribal business hours. PLEASE CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY!
  • Tribal Housing is managed by the CTCLUSI Tribal Housing Department. Housing programs and services for Tribal members and their families include—
    • Rental assistance to Tribal families
    • Tribal housing located in North Bend and Florence
    • Down payment loan assistance
    • Home repair assistance
    • Emergency housing assistance
  • Facilities Condition Monitoring and Reporting is currently under Tribal Operations.

As of June 15, 2015 the Tribe’s real property (land & improvements) base consists of—

  • 31.4 acres of Reservation land
  • 121.5 acres of non-Reservation Trust land
  • 381.1 acres of non-Reservation non-Trust Fee-owned land

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  • 534.0 total acres under legal or beneficial Tribal ownership

 

The Western Oregon Tribal Fairness Act was passed and signed into law in January 2018. Title II of the Act conveyed portions of federally owned (previously Bureau of Land Management lands) amounting to seven parcels totaling 14,742 acres.  Visit the Forestry Management page on the citizen portal for more information.

REALTY & LAND USE STAFF

Jeff Stump

Planning Director

541-888-1305 (Main)
jstump@ctclusi.org
1245 Fulton Avenue,
Coos Bay, Oregon 97420

Josh Stevens

Realty Program Coordinator

541-435-7246 (Main)
jstevens@ctclusi.org
1245 Fulton Avenue,
Coos Bay, Oregon 97420

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