By Laurel Morales, Fronteras Desk
FLAGSTAFF — President Obama has signed into law a bill that will give tribes more authority to lease Indian land. It’s called the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership Act -- or HEARTH Act.
The HEARTH Act allows tribes to approve their own land leasing agreements rather than the Bureau of Indian Affairs, if they choose. Supporters say the legislation will hasten housing construction, clean energy and business or industry development on tribal lands.
The Navajo Nation already has such authority.
The interior secretary still must approve tribes' leasing regulations. The administration issued new leasing regulations last November that set deadlines for approval of leases to end long delays.
The bill does not apply to oil and gas leases.