U.S. House passes Nolan land swap bill

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House signed off Tuesday on a Rick Nolan-introduced bill that would allow Carlton County and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa to swap thousands of acres of land.

Under the bill, the Fond du Lac band would give the county 1,451 acres of land it owns off the reservation in exchange for 3,200 acres of equally valuable land the county currently administers on tribal property.

The tribe could use the land to build housing for its members, Nolan said in a floor speech, while the county would benefit from “valuable new timber and forestry resources.” The House passed the bill on a unanimous voice vote.

The bill, based on an agreement between the tribe and the county, would undo what Nolan called a “checkerboard”of land ownership in and near the reservation. Even though an 1854 treaty set aside more than 100,000 acres of land for the Fond du Lac tribe, “homesteaders and others were wrongly permitted to settle on this tribe land — much of which was then later forfeited to the county for non-payment of taxes,” Nolan said. The bill would rectify land management problems around the tribal area.

Sen. Al Franken has introduced a Senate version of the bill.

Here’s Nolan’s floor speech:

Devin Henry can be reached at dhenry@minnpost.com.

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