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Idaho’s Version of Noem’s Ban on Land Sales to Foreigners Snarls Tribal Land Buys

The Senate’s wise killing last winter of Governor Kristi Noem’s posturing attempt to ban the sale of ag land to China didn’t just avoid yet another courtroom embarrassment for the Constitutionally clueless Noem Administration. It also avoided the kind of trouble with tribal land purchases that a similar ban is causing in Idaho:

An Idaho law passed earlier this year designed to block foreign governments from purchasing agricultural land, water rights, mining claims and mineral claims has reportedly caused confusion as to whether Native American tribes are affected.

Blake Youde, a lobbyist representing the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe, told the Idaho Council on Indian Affairs on Friday afternoon in the Idaho State Capitol that the tribe flagged the issue in a real estate acquisition.

Youde said the legislation, passed in the 2023 legislative session and called House Bill 173, created “confusion” in title companies and county clerks because of the bill’s “specific exclusionary definition.” The bill passed the Senate on a 25-9 vote, and the House on a 64-0 vote.

“While legal precedence is there, title companies aren’t exactly always legal scholars, and that’s not an insult to the title companies,” Youde said. “But having it be very clear on the definition, since the definition is very specific on who’s excluded as a foreign government, would just make this a lot cleaner, more specific, and take the hitch out of these transactions.”

The bill defined foreign government as “a government other than the federal government of the United States or the government of any state, political subdivision of a state, territory, or possession of the United States.”

“What the bill did is it created an unintentional common consequence, and that is the omission of federally recognized Indian tribes,” Youde said [Kyle Pfannenstiel, “Bill on Foreign Purchases Created ‘Unintentional’ Confusion for Native American Tribes,” Idaho Capital Sun, 2023.09.16].

Noem’s failed land control bill, 2023 Senate Bill 185, defined “foreign government” as “a government not of the United States or its constituencies.” Are tribes “constituencies” of the United States? Would South Dakota title offices have been able to answer that question… or willing to answer it affirmatively?


  1. P. Aitch 2023-09-19

    No. SD title officials can not answer Cory’s query. A judge will need to clarify.
    AI research:
    In real estate law, the term “constituency” is not commonly used. However, one could interpret the term to refer to a group of individuals or entities that have a shared interest or connection to a particular real estate property or development project. This could include various stakeholders such as property owners, tenants, investors, developers, contractors, or community organizations that may be affected by or have an interest in the property or project.

    Within this context, a constituency could refer to a group of people or entities that may have legal rights or obligations related to the property, such as homeowners in a planned community, shareholders in a cooperative housing corporation, or members of a homeowners association. These constituencies may have certain rights, voting power, or obligations as defined by the governing documents or applicable laws governing the property.

    However, it’s important to note that this interpretation may vary depending on the specific jurisdiction and the context in which the term is used. It is always advisable to consult with a qualified real estate attorney for a precise understanding of real estate law terminology and its application in a particular jurisdiction.

  2. Donald Pay 2023-09-19

    You know, I kind of like that Idaho law. It needs clarification regarding tribal lands, which should be exempted from the state law, but extending the ban to foreign ownership of mineral and water rights seems to be a vast improvement over Noem’s effort. If that would happen you might be able to void the awful attempt by a Canadian mining company to “remine” the Brohm Superfund Site.

  3. Richard Schriever 2023-09-19

    Donald, FWIW – is not the former SD Cement Plant now owned by a foreign quasi-governmental entity (GCC –
    a subsidiary of CEMEX)? one of the 5 largest producers of Cement products globally.

  4. Jake Kammerer 2023-09-19

    Schriever; you be correct, sir!

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