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Proposed Amendments to Indian Gas Valuation: An Effort at Simplification

Thomas H. Shipps, Federal and Indian Oil & Gas Royalty Valuation and Management II (1998)

The role of the United States in disposition and management of public minerals and mineral lands is quite different from the fiduciary responsibility that the United States holds with respect to mineral resources owned in trust for Indian tribes and individual Native Americans. Management of public lands includes consideration of a myriad of factors related to public policy ranging from national security and protection of a stable energy industry to environmental protection. Management of tribal lands, on the other hand, essentially requires consideration of only one factor, what action would be best for the Indian owners of mineral resources.

In order to protect tribal lands from unlawful encroachment, Congress, as early as 1790, prevented the conveyance of tribal land without authorization by Congress.1 The constitutionally based power of Congress “to regulate commerce ... with the Indian tribes”2 and pervasive exercise of that power by Congress over Indian affairs led to early recognition of a corresponding federal trust duty in management of Indian lands.3

Congress authorized the mineral leasing of tribal lands under federal statutes different than [5C-2] those governing mineral leasing of public lands.4 While Congress delegated administrative authority over the leasing of both Indian lands and public lands to the Department of the Interior, lease approva