Rangeland Ecology & Management

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Rangelands on Indigenous Lands


Rangelands on Indigenous Lands

Photo by: Amber Dalke
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    Rangelands are important to American Indian and Alaskan Natives with an estimated 46 million acres of rangeland managed by tribes. These landscapes have agricultural, natural resource, and cultural significance. Many unique issues also come up with these indigenous rangelands including conservation of sacred areas, land tenure rights, variation of land title with unique responsibilities and authorities, and cultural uses. Many of these lands occur in the western United States and are a critical resource for indigenous livelihoods and culture but have been neglected with many contemporary issues and legal cases emerging.

    Although Indian lands are extensions of neighboring ecological landscapes and watersheds, they are strikingly different politically. Many reservations have several different classes of land title within them that are not managed by a single political entity: Indian title, allotted, federal, and fee simple are examples. Each class of land gives rise to unique responsibilities and authorities. This can make land-based natural resource issues and resulting decisions quite complex.  There are several land-related issues of key interest to American Indians and Alaska Natives today including: (1) sovereignty (2) undivided heirship and fractionated lands; and (3) the conversion of in held fee simple lands to trust lands ("fee to trust").

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