Cobell Lawsuit & Settlement | National | Politics

Audio from SCIA hearing for Cobell land consolidation program

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee held an oversight hearing this afternoon 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 Interior Department received the money more than a year ago and must spend it within 10 years. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), the chairwoman of the committee, pointed out that no purchases have been made since November 2012.

Larry Roberts, the second-in-command at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, said the first offers are being made this month to members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota. But he indicated the process might take some time to complete due to outreach efforts being made under a newly signed cooperative agreement.

Other tribal leaders told the committee that they haven't received a response to their proposed agreements. They suggested that Congress might need to provide further direction to BIA in order to speed up the process and put more money in Indian hands.

Cantwell said she plans to hold another hearing to determine what progress the Obama administration is making on the program.

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:
Oglala Sioux Tribe enters agreement for land consolidation (12/10)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee sets hearing on land buyback (12/9)
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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