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Fischer Introduced the Winnebago Land Transfer Act in 2023


WASHINGTON, D.C. ­– At a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing today, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) introduced the Chairwoman of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, Victoria Kitcheyan, to testify in support of the Winnebago Land Transfer Act.

The legislation, which Senator Fischer introduced, would transfer approximately 1,600 acres of land back to the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska that were seized in the 1970s by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“Chairwoman Kitcheyan has demonstrated unwavering devotion to her tribe and a comprehensive understanding of the issues they face. There’s no more knowledgeable or committed individual who could testify here today,” said Senator Fischer.

“Our bill would restore the Tribe’s rightful land, transferring the outstanding tracts of land back from the Army Corps. The Corps no longer objects to returning the land, but this legislation is needed to actually get it transferred to the tribe. I’m optimistic that we can continue raising bipartisan, bicameral support for this bill and that we can send it to the president’s desk,”Senator Fischer continued.



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Following is a transcript of Senator Fischer’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

Today it is my honor to introduce the Chairwoman of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, Victoria Kitcheyan, to testify in support of the Winnebago Land Transfer Act.

I’m grateful that the bill was passed by the House of Representatives just this week, and I am hopeful that we can soon follow here in the Senate.

Chairwoman Kitcheyan has been serving in her current role for the Winnebago Tribe since 2020. But for years before her election as chairwoman, she dedicated herself to the welfare and prosperity of her tribe.

Chairwoman Kitcheyan was first elected to the Winnebago Tribal Council nearly a decade ago. She is the former Chairwoman of the National Indian Health Board, and she’s served on the board’s Medicare, Medicaid, and Health Reform Policy Committee. She’s also served on the Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Chairwoman Kitcheyan has demonstrated unwavering devotion to her tribe and a comprehensive understanding of the issues they face. There’s no more knowledgeable or committed individual who could testify here today.

My colleagues and I introduced the Winnebago Land Transfer Act last year to respond to the trials this tribe has faced over decades — trials imposed, sadly, by our own government.

The Winnebago Tribe endured forced removal from their homeland in the mid-1800s. They settled in the Winnebago Indian Reservation in Nebraska in 1865. The government promised the Winnebago Tribe that land in my home state, and they promised it forever.

But in 1970, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers condemned approximately 1,600 acres of the tribe’s reservation land for a proposed recreation project — a project that was never started.

What ensued was over half a century of legal battles between the Winnebago Tribe and the U.S. government — battles that never brought this matter to a just resolution.

Our bill would restore the Tribe’s rightful land, transferring the outstanding tracts of land back from the Army Corps. The Corps no longer objects to returning the land, but this legislation is needed to actually get it transferred to the tribe.

I’m optimistic that we can continue raising bipartisan, bicameral support for this bill and that we can send it to the president’s desk.

Thank you.

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