On June 30, 2016, the Acting Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, Lawrence S. Roberts, announced that the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has improved its Fee-to-Trust Handbook to reduce the processing time for requests from Tribes to have land taken into trust and proclamation that declare the lands are part of their tribal reservations.
The Handbook revisions include allowing a tribal government to combine its applications for requesting a land parcel be put into trust status (from fee simple ownership) and having a reservation proclamation issued for it. Previously, a requesting tribe would have to wait until the land is in trust before submitting a reservation proclamation request. The revised Handbook also provides guidance to BIA employees for processing simultaneous fee-to-trust and reservation proclamation requests.
The revisions also provide guidance on processing reservation proclamations where land has already been acquired in trust. A proclamation will not be finalized until the underlying land parcel has been taken into trust. The revised sections are 3.4.1 and 3.4.2 of the Handbook.