Cobell Lawsuit & Settlement | Politics

Senate Indian Affairs Committee sets hearing on land buyback

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday to discuss the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations.

The Cobell settlement provided $1.9 billion for Indian landowners who want to sell their fractionated interests. The program is entirely voluntary.

The Obama administration initially planned to make the first purchases by the end of this year. That doesn't appear to be happening as the Interior Department recently said it would expand outreach efforts through March 2014.

“This is a major step forward toward strengthening tribal sovereignty by supporting consolidation of tribal homelands,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a press release last month. “We are moving quickly to establish individualized cooperative agreements, which address the specific needs of each tribe and provide resources for tribal communities to implement the program. Although the task ahead is challenging, we have been given a historic opportunity to work together with Indian Country to meet this challenge.”

The Indian Land Consolidation Act requires DOI to pay "fair market value" for the fractionated interests. Once they are acquired, the land will placed in trust for tribes.

Wednesday's hearing takes place at 2:30pm in Room 628 of the Senate Dirksen Office Building. It coincides with a nomination hearing for the Special Trustee for American Indians.

Committee Notice:
OVERSIGHT HEARING to receive testimony on "Implementation of the Department of the Interior's Land Buy-Back Program." (December 11, 2013)

Related Stories:
Gabe Galanda: More problems in DOI's land buy-back plan (11/12)
Appraisal Foundation reviews Cobell land consolidation plans (11/8)

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