Jay Daniels: Indian land consolidation marks a new beginning

"The Department of Interior recently completed the final tribal consultations for the implementation of the Cobell Settlement's Land Buy Back Program for Tribal Nations. Tribal Consultations were previously conducted in Billings, Montana (July 15, 2011), Minneapolis, Minnesota (August 18, 2011), Seattle, Washington (September 16, 2011), Albuquerque, New Mexico (September 27, 2011), Phoenix, Arizona (September 29, 2011), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (October 6, 2011) and Rapid City, South Dakota (October 26, 2011), in anticipation of the Court approval of the final Cobell Settlement Agreement which became final during November, 2012.

These tribal consultation meetings were to address the continued proliferation of thousands of new trust accounts caused by the "fractionation" of land interests through succeeding generations. The Settlement established a copy.9 billion fund for the voluntary buy-back and consolidation of fractionated land interests. The land consolidation program will provide individual American Indians with an opportunity to obtain cash payments for divided land interests and free up the land for the benefit of tribal communities.

One problem with these pre-consultation meetings is tribes were not entirely aware of the Department's proposed implementation plan prior to the consultation meetings so discussion was limited without pre-consultation time to absorb and discuss possible plans with their tribal leaders and tribal members. Basically the Department was gathering comments before two appeals were decided. These costs for the ten tribal consultation meetings probably will be part of the 15% administrative costs reimbursement from the Cobell Settlement award of copy $1.9 billion awarded for the Land Buy Back Program."

Get the Story:
Jay Daniels: Land Buy-Back Program: Only the Beginning (Indian Country Today 2/25)

Join the Conversation