Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn met with leaders of Sandia Pueblo to approve regulations under the HEARTH Act, which was signed into law last year by President Obama. Sandia Pueblo is one of the first tribal nations to take advantage of the HEARTH Act which aims to jumpstart economic development and improve homeownership in Indian Country.
Under HEARTH, tribes are able to approve land leases and develop leasing regulations for business, residential, or other purposes without having to seek permission from the Federal Government. Previously, the Bureau of Indian Affairs lease approval process could take anywhere between six months to two years.
Sandia Pueblo Governor Victor Montoya says with the elimination of BIA red-tape, Pueblo land development will go faster and negotiations with partnering companies will also become easier.
“The southern border’s what we're looking at for opportunities to economic development, to diversify from gaming and look into other opportunities that come our way,” says Montoya. “I feel excited. I’m excited for the tribe.”
Montoya says Sandia Pueblo is looking to put in drainage systems with the help of outside contractors, further develop Coronado Airport and build a retail center on par with ABQ Uptown.
Other plans are in the works for the Pueblo, but Governor Montoya declined to go into specifics.