1936

The Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act, June 26, 1936

(Thomas-Rogers Act)

That the Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized, in his discretion, to acquire by purchase, relinquishment, gift, exchange, or assignment, any interests in lands, water rights, surface rights to lands, within or without existing Indian reservations, including trust or otherwise restricted lands now in Indian ownership: Provided, that such lands shall be agricultural and grazing lands of good character and quality in proportion to the respective needs of the particular Indian or Indians for whom such purchases are made.  Title to all lands so acquired shall be taken in the name of the United States, in trust for the tribe, band, group, or individual Indian for whose benefit such land is so acquired, and while the title thereto is held by the United States said lands shall be free from any and all taxes, save that the State of Oklahoma is authorized to levy and collect a gross-production tax, to in excess of the rate applied to production from lands in private ownership, upon all oil and gas produced from said lands, which said tax the Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized and directed to cause to be paid.

Sec. 2.  Whenever any restricted Indian land or interests in land, other than sales or leases of oil, gas, or other mineral therein, are offered for sale, pursuant tot he terms of this or any other Act of Congress, the Secretary of the Interior shall have a preference right, in his discretion, to purchase the same for or in behalf of any other Indian or Indians of the same or any other tribe, at a fair valuation to be fixed by the appraisement satisfactory to the Indian owner or owners, or if offered for sale at auction said Secretary shall have a preference right, in his discretion, to purchase the same for or in behalf of any other Indian or Indians by meeting the highest bid otherwise offered therefor.

Sec. 3.  Any recognized tribe or band of Indians residing in Oklahoma shall have the right to organize for its common welfare and to adopt a constitution and bylaws, under such rules and regulations as the Secretary of the Interior may prescribe.  The Secretary of the Interior may issue to any such organized group a charter of incorporation, which shall become operative when ratified by a majority vote of the adult members of the organization voting: Provided, however, that such election shall be void unless the total votes cast be at least 30 per centum of those entitled to vote.  Such charter may convey to the incorporated group, in addition to any powers which may properly be vested in a body corporate under the laws of the State of Oklahoma, the right to participate in the revolving credit fund and to enjoy any other rights or privileges secured to an organized Indian under the Act of June 18, 1934 (48 Stat.  984): Provided, that the corporate funds of any such chartered group may be deposited in any national bank within the State of Oklahoma or otherwise invested, utilized, or disbursed in accordance with the terms of the corporate charter.

Sec. 4.  Any ten or more Indians, as determined by the official tribal rolls, or Indian descendants of such enrolled members, or Indians as defined in the Act of June 18, 1934 (48 Stat. 984), who reside within the State of Oklahoma in convenient proximity to each other may receive from the Secretary of the Interior a charter as a local cooperative association for any one or more of the following purposes: Credit administration, production, marketing, consumers’ protection, or land management.  The provisions of this Act, the regulations of the Secretary of the Interior, and the charters of the cooperative associations issued pursuant thereto shall govern the cooperative associations: Provided, that in those matters not covered by said Act, regulations, or charters, the laws of the State of Oklahoma, if applicable, shall govern.  In any stock or nonstock cooperative association no one member shall have more than one vote, and membership therein shall be open to all Indians residing within the prescribed district.

Sec. 5.  The charters of any cooperative association organized pursuant to this Act shall not be amended or revoked by the Secretary except after a majority vote of the membership.  Such cooperative associations may sue and be sued in any court of the State of Oklahoma or of the United States having jurisdiction of the cause of action, but a certified copy of all papers filed in any action against a cooperative association in a court of Oklahoma, shall be served upon the Secretary of the Interior, or upon an employee duly authorized by him to receive such service.  Within thirty days after such service or within such extended time as the trial court may permit, the Secretary of the Interior may intervene in such action or may remove such action to the United States district court to be held in the district where such petition is pending by filing in such action in the State court a petition for such removal, together with the certified copy of the papers served upon the Secretary.  It shall then be the duty for the State court to accept such petition and to proceed no further in such action.  The said copy shall be entered in the said district court within thirty days after the filing of the petition for removal, and the said district court is hereby given jurisdiction to hear and determine said action.

Sec. 6.  The Secretary is authorized to make loans to individual Indians and to associations of corporate groups organized pursuant to this Act.  For the making of such loans and for expenses of the cooperative associations organized pursuant to this Act, there shall be appropriated, out of the Treasury of the United States, the sum of $2,000,000.

Sec. 7.  All fund appropriated under the several grants of authority contained in the Act of June 18, 1934 (48 Stat. 984), are hereby made available for use under the provisions of this Act, and Oklahoma Indians shall be accorded and allocated a fair and just share of any and all funds hereafter appropriated under the authorization herein set forth: Provided, that any royalties, bonuses, or other revenues derived from mineral deposits underlying lands purchased in Oklahoma under the authority granted by this Act, or by the Act of June 18, 1934, shall be deposited in the Treasury of the United States, and such revenues are hereby made available for expenditure by the Secretary of the Interior for the acquisition of lands and for loans to Indians in Oklahoma as authorized by this Act and by the Act of June 18, 1934 (48 Stat. 984).

Sec. 8.  This Act shall not relate to or affect Osage County, Oklahoma.

Sec. 9.  The Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized to prescribe such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act.  All Acts or parts of Acts inconsistent herewith are hereby repealed.

Sec. 10.  The following provisions of the Indian Reorganization Act of June 18, 1934 (48 Stat. P. 984) as modified , are applicable to Oklahoma, and should be considered in connection with the provisions of the Oklahoma Welfare Act.

Sec. 11.  That hereafter no land of any Indian reservation, created or set apart by treaty or agreement with the Indians, Act of Congress, Executive order, purchase, or otherwise, shall be allotted in severalty to any Indian.

Sec. 12. The Secretary of the Interior, if he shall find it to be in the public interest, is hereby authorized to restore to tribal ownership the remaining surplus lands of any Indian reservation heretofore opened, or authorized to be opened, to sale, or any other form of disposal by Presidential proclamation, or by any of the public land laws of the United States; Provided, however, That valid rights or claims of any persons to any lands so withdrawn existing on the date of the withdrawal shall not be affected by this Act

Sec. 13. The Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized, in his discretion, to acquire through purchase, relinquishment, gift, exchange, or assignment, any interest in lands, water rights or surface rights to lands, within or without existing reservations, including trust or otherwise restricted allotments whether the allottee be living or deceased, for the purpose of providing lands for Indians.

Sec. 14.  For the acquisition of such lands, interests in lands, water rights, and surface rights, and for expenses incident to such acquisition, there is hereby authorized to be appropriated, out of any funds in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, a sum not to exceed $2,000,000 in any one fiscal year: Provided, That no part of such funds shall be used to acquire additional land outside of the exterior boundaries of Navajo Indian Reservation for the Navajo Indians in Arizona and New Mexico, in the event that the proposed Navajo boundary extension measures how pending in congress and embodied in the bills (S. 2531 and H.R. 8927) to define the exterior boundaries of the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona, and for other purposes, and the bills (S. 2531 and H.R. 8982) to define the exterior boundaries of the Navajo Indian Reservation in New Mexico and for other purposes, or similar legislation, become law.

Sec. 15.  The unexpended balances of any appropriations made pursuant to this section shall remain available until expended.

Sec. 16.  Title to any lands or rights acquired pursuant to this Act shall be taken in the name of the United States in trust for the Indian tribe or individual Indian for which the land is acquired, and such lands or rights shall be exempt from State and local taxation.

Sec. 17. The Secretary of the Interior is directed to make rules and regulations for the operation and management of Indian forestry units on the principle of sustained-yield management, to restrict the number of livestock grazed on Indian range units to the estimated carrying capacity of such ranges, and to promulgate such other rules and regulations as may be necessary to protect the range from deterioration, to prevent soil erosion, to assure full utilization of the range, and like purposes.

Sec. 18. Nothing contained in this Act shall be construed to relate to Indian holdings of allotments or homesteads upon the public domain outside of the geographic boundaries of any Indian reservation now existing or established hereafter.

Sec. 19. There is hereby authorized to be appropriated, out of any funds in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, such sums as may be necessary, but not to exceed $250,000 in any fiscal year, to be expended at the order of the Secretary of the Interior, in defraying the expenses of organizing Indian chartered corporations or other organizations created under this Act. 

Sec. 20. There is hereby authorized to be appropriated, out of any funds in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, the sum of $10,000,000 to be established as a revolving fund from which the Secretary of the Interior, under such rules and regulations as he may prescribe, may make loans to Indian chartered corporations for the purpose of promoting the economic development of such tribes and of their members, and may defray the expenses of administering such loans. Repayment of amounts loaned under this authorization shall be credited to the revolving fund and shall be available for the purposes for which the fund is established. A report shall be made annually to Congress of transactions under this authorization.

Sec. 21. There is hereby authorized to be appropriated, out of any funds in the United States Treasury not otherwise appropriated, a sum not to exceed $250,000 annually, together with any unexpended balances of previous appropriations made pursuant to this section, for loans to Indians for the payment of tuition and other expenses in recognized vocational and trade schools: Provided, That not more than $50,000 of such sum shall be available for loans to Indian students in high schools and colleges. Such loans shall be reimbursable under rules established by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

Sec. 22. The Secretary of the Interior is directed to establish standards of health, age, character, experience, knowledge, and ability for Indians who maybe appointed, without regard to civil-service laws, to the various positions maintained, now or hereafter, by the Indian office, in the administrations functions or services affecting any Indian tribe. Such qualified Indians shall hereafter have the preference to appointment to vacancies in any such positions.

Sec. 23. Nothing in this Act shall be construed to impair or prejudice any claim or suit of any Indian tribe against the United States. It is hereby declared to be the intent of Congress that no expenditures for the benefit of Indians made out of appropriations authorized by this Act shall be considered as offsets in any suit brought to recover upon any claim of such Indians against the United States.

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