Cobell Lawsuit & Settlement

Appraisal Foundation reviews Cobell land consolidation plans

The Appraisal Foundation, a non-profit created by Congress, reviewed the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations at the request of the Interior Department.

The Cobell settlement provided $1.9 billion for Indian landowners who want to sell their fractionated interests. DOI will pay "fair market value" as required by the Indian Land Consolidation Act.

To determine "fair market value," DOI will use mass appraisal techniques for a range of properties within a particular geographic area. But in situations where that isn't possible, there will be project appraisals and property-specific appraisals.

“There is no greater authority for establishing standards for appraisals and qualifications for appraisers than The Appraisal Foundation,” Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn, the head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, said in a press release. “TAF’s independent analysis confirms that the steps we are taking to determine fair market value for offers to landowners are cost-effective and conform to the best practices for valuation."

DOI plans to make the first Buy-Back purchases by the end of this year. Any interests that are acquired will be returned to tribal governments.

The Cobell settlement, which was enacted by Congress in December 2010, requires DOI to spend the money within 10 years. The government will take a 15 percent administrative fee -- or about $285 million -- to run the Buy-Back Program.

Get the Story:
Foundation: Allottees will get fair market value under Cobell (The Navajo Times 11/7)

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