President Obama signs the HEARTH Act of 2012, July 30, 2012

President Barack Obama signs H.R. 205, the HEARTH Act of 2012, in the Oval Office, July 30, 2012. Standing behind the President, from left, are: Bryan Newland, Senior Policy Advisor at the Department of the Interior; Governor Randall Vicente, Pueblo of Acoma in New Mexico; David Hayes, Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior; Jefferson Keel, President of the National Congress of American Indians; Rep. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.; Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii; interior Secretary Ken Salazar; Cheryl Causley, Chairperson of the National American Indian Housing Council; Governor Gregory Mendoza, Gila River Indian Community of Arizona; and Del Laverdure, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Department of the Interior.

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama understands that by allowing greater tribal control over tribal assets, we encourage economic growth, promote community development in Indian Country, and support tribal self-determination. That’s why this Administration is committed to strengthening tribal communities by improving tribal governments’ capacity for controlling their own futures. 

Earlier today, President Obama demonstrated the latest step in this commitment by signing into law the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership (HEARTH) Act. This legislation allows tribes to lease restricted lands for residential, business, public, religious, educational, or recreational purposes without the approval of the Secretary of the Interior. 

The HEARTH Act promotes greater tribal self-determination and will help create jobs in Indian Country. Under the Act, federally recognized tribes can develop and implement their own regulations governing certain leasing on Indian lands. Upon Secretarial approval of these tribal regulations, tribes will have the authority to process land leases without Bureau of Indian Affairs approval. This new authority has the potential to significantly reduce the time it takes to approve leases for homes and small businesses in Indian Country. By allowing tribes to more quickly and easily lease their lands, the bill promotes investment in tribal communities and more broadly facilitates economic development. 

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