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163. Return of Blue Lake Lands to Taos Pueblo 1970 In 1906 President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed the Blue Lake lands of the Taos Pueblo part of what is now Carson National Forest, thus restricting the exclusive Indian use of the lands. For sixty-four years the Indians struggled to regain the lands, which were sacred to them and used for religious ceremonies. Finally Congress in 1970 authorized the return of the lands. The significance of this action was emphasized by President Richard Nixon in his remarks on signing the bill. 1. Return of the Lands December 15, 1970 An Act To amend section 4 of the Act of May 31, 1933 (48 Stat. 108). Be it enacted . . . , That section 4 of the Act of May 31, 1933 (48 Stat. 108), providing for the protection of the watershed within the Carson National Forest for the Pueblo de Taos Indians in New Mexico, be and hereby is amended to read as follows: “Sec. 4. (a) That, for the purpose of safeguarding the interests and welfare of the tribe of Indians known as the Pueblo de Taos of New Mexico, the following described lands and improvements thereon, upon which said Indians depend and have depended since time immemorial for water supply, forage for their domestic livestock, wood and timber for their personal use, and as the scene of certain religious ceremonials, are hereby declared to be held by the United States in trust for the Pueblo de Taos: [Description of boundaries.] “(b) The lands held in trust pursuant to this section shall be a part of the Pueblo de Taos Reservation, and shall be administered under the laws and regulations applicable to other trust Indian lands: Provided, That the Pueblo de Taos Indians shall use the lands for traditional purposes only, such as religious ceremonials, hunting and fishing, a source of water, forage for their domestic livestock, and wood, timber, and other natural resources for their personal use, all subject to such regulations for conservation purposes as the Secretary of the Interior may prescribe. Except for such uses, the lands shall remain forever wild and shall be maintained as a wilderness as defined in section 2(c) of the Act of September 3, 1964 (78 Stat. 890). With the consent of the tribe, but not otherwise, nonmembers of the tribe may be permitted to enter the lands for purposes compatible with their preservation as a wilderness. The Secretary of the Interior shall be responsible for the establishment and maintenance of conservation measures for these lands, including , without limitation, protection of forests from fire, disease, insects or trespass; prevention or elimination of erosion, damaging land use, or stream pollution; and maintenance of streamflow and sanitary conditions; and the Secretary is authorized to contract with the Secretary of Agriculture for any services or materials deemed necessary to institute or carry out any of such measures. “(c) Lessees or permittees of lands described in subsection (a) which are not included in the lands described in the Act of May 31, 1933, shall be given the opportunity to renew their leases or permits under rules and regulations of the Secretary of the Interior to the same extent and in the same manner that such leases or permits could have been renewed if this Act had not been enacted ; but the Pueblo de Taos may obtain the relinquishment of any or all of such leases or permits from the lessees or permittees under such terms and conditions as may be mutually agreeable. The Secretary of the Interior is authorized to disburse, from the tribal funds in the Treasury of the United States to the credit of said tribe, so much thereof as may be necessary to pay for such relinquishments andforthepurchaseofanyrightsorimprovements on said lands owned by non-Indians. The authority to pay for the relinquishment of a permit pursuant to this subsection shall not be regarded as a recognition of any property right of the permittee in the land or its resources. “(d) The Indian Claims Commission is directed to determine in accordance with the provisions of section 2 of the Act of August 13, 1946 (60 Stat. 1049, 1050), the extent to which the value of the interest in land 259 260 conveyed by this Act should be credited to the United States or should be set off against any claim of the Taos Indians against the United States. “(e) Nothing in this section shall impair any vested water right.” [U.S. Statutes at...


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