The Goshute Indian Reservation on the Utah-Nevada border is divided no more.
Although the reservation is usually shown on maps as one large, undivided area, it has actually been split in two by a quarter-mile wide strip of public land on the Utah side of the border.But President Reagan signed a bill into law over the Thanksgiving holiday that adds the strip to the reservation. Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, spearheaded the effort in Congress to end what he and the 400-member tribe called an "85-year-old mistake."
When the Utah half of the reservation was created by President Woodrow Wilson, the legal description in his executive order did not extend it all the way to the Utah-Nevada border. It left a strip a quarter-mile wide and eight miles long.
Then when the "Nevada" portion of the reservation was created in 1938, its eastern border was extended up to the Nevada-Utah border - but not beyond. That still left the strip of land out of the reservation.
The land in the strip consists of 1,754 acres of U.S. Bureau of Land Management land and an enclave of 320 acres of private land. The BLM land is now added to the Indian reservation, but not the private land.
The new law also reserves 1,520 acres of other lands in or adjacent to the reservation to be held in trust for the tribe's use.
The new bill also benefits another Indian tribe living in Utah - the 300 White Mesa Utes living in Allen Canyon, near Blanding, San Juan County.
A 40-acre tract of public land that had once been set aside as a school site was withdrawn from public use by the new law and will be held in trust for use by members of the tribe.
Garn said a school was once located on the site, but has been long abandoned. Garn has said the change will allow the Indians in Allen Canyon to use the land for grazing and gardening.