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Basics of Successful Natural Resource Development Projects in Indian Country

Michael P. O'Connell, Natural Resources Development in Indian Country (2005)

Laws and regulations governing development of natural resources on Indian lands 2 and more broadly in “Indian country” 3 have deep roots in the use and occupancy of the Americas by native peoples long predating European contact, international law, colonial law, the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution of the United State, treaties, laws enacted by Congress, including the very First Congress, 4 executive orders, regulations, and executive policy statements, as well as an enormous body of decisions by federal administrative and judicial tribunals. Federal laws and regulations dominate development of natural resources on Indian lands for tribes, individual Indian landowners, and non-Indians alike. In addition, applicable tribal laws and regulations and, to a lesser extent, state laws and regulations, govern development of natural resources on Indian lands.

This paper provides a “basic” overview of successful natural resource development projects in Indian country in light of these laws and regulations. Participants in specific development projects should take a careful look at the particular laws and regulations that govern each transaction.