WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Steve King announced today that he has introduced H.R. 3688, the “Winnebago Land Transfer Act of 2017”. King’s legislation seeks to restore several tracts of land located in Woodbury and Monona Counties to the Winnebago Tribe. In 1976, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the United States lacked authority to take the land through the eminent domain process because Congress had not taken the necessary actions to abrogate the Treaty of March 8, 1865. The treaty set apart the land at issue “for occupation and future home of the Winnebago Indians, forever.” Despite this court ruling, the land currently remains in the possession of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers due to the federal government’s improper use of the eminent domain power.
“My legislation corrects a historical wrong that dates back to the 1970’s,” said King. “At that time, the federal government improperly used the eminent domain process to take land from the Winnebago Tribe even though their rights to that land are protected by treaty. H.R. 3368 requires that this land be held in trust by the United States for the benefit of the Winnebago Tribe subject to the same terms and conditions that were agreed to in the Treaty of March 8, 1865. After over 40 years, it is time the federal government returned this property to the people with the lawful claim.”
Congressman King’s legislation is cosponsored by Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE). The Woodbury and Monona County Boards of Supervisors support King’s legislation, as does the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.