Seminole Tribe Plans Housing, Renewable Energy Business After Signing US Pact

Jan 20, 2015 No Comments by

The Seminole Tribe of Florida plans to build more homes on its 497-acre reservation in Hollywood.

The plans come after the federal government, last week, gave the Tribe the power to approve land leases without the need for approval by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Previously, tribal members had to wait — sometimes for years — to get approval from the bureau in Washington to build on the reservation’s land, which the U.S. government owns in a trust held for the tribe.

“There’s been a long list of tribal members wanting housing on the Hollywood reservation,” said Seminole spokesman Gary Bitner. “There’s been an acute housing shortage.”

A 2012 law allows tribes to agree to assume control of approving leases on their reservations, which the Seminoles did in an agreement signed last Thursday by U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Seminole Tribal Chairman James E. Billie at the Tribe’s headquarters in Hollywood.

The agreement covers all of the Tribe’s six reservations. In addition to their Hollywood land, the Seminoles have reservations in Brighton, Big Cypress, Immokalee, Fort Pierce and Tampa.

The Seminoles are the 15th tribe to agree. Fourteen more are in the process, said Jewell, who is chairwoman of the White House Council on Native American Affairs. The U.S. government recognizes 566 tribes.


“The Seminole Tribe of Florida will now decide for itself how it wants to do business on its lands — from making it easier for families to buy and build houses to opening businesses in the communities where they have lived for generations,” Jewell said.

The agreement also could ease the development on non-Indian projects on the reservation, such as businesses and housing rented to the larger population.

The tribe can make such arrangements now but needs approval for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, said Jessica Kershaw, press secretary for the U.S. Department of the Interior.

In brief comments after the Hollywood signing, Billie said the Seminoles were looking at a renewable energy project as one of the possible new businesses. But he said he didn’t want to talk further. “We’re still in negotiations,” he said.

The tribe has the most demand for new housing at the Hollywood reservation, tribal spokesman Bitner said. The Seminoles are looking to build multi-unit housing there, he said.

Tribal members are allowed to own homes and other buildings on the reservation but not the land.


Source:  SunSentinel


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