Cobell Lawsuit & Settlement | Opinion

Larry Roberts: Answers about the Cobell land buy-back program

Larry Roberts, the deputy assistant secretary at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, offers some answers about the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations:
Given this historic opportunity, we want to take a moment to highlight some important facts about the Program to help landowners make informed decisions about their participation. Here are some facts that you should know.

· The Buy-Back Program was created as part of the Cobell Settlement to purchase fractionated trust or restricted land from willing sellers at fair market value. Congress provided $1.9 billion to purchase these fractionated trust or restricted lands. Every acre purchased will be transferred directly to Tribes in trust.

· If you have an Individual Indian Monies (IIM) account, you are eligible to participate in the Program.

· If you receive an offer you can choose to sell all, some, or none of your fractionated interests. If you voluntarily choose to sell, you will receive fair market value, plus a base payment of $75 per offer. Currently, those who choose to sell typically receive payment into their IIM account within seven days.

· Given the time and cost constraints established by the Cobell Settlement legislation, offers will be good for a limited time – 45 days.

· If you choose to sell, the Program will contribute money to the Cobell Education Scholarship Fund. Program funds added to the Scholarship Fund will not reduce the amount of money that you will receive. This fund will provide scholarships for American Indian and Alaska Native students attending post-secondary vocational and college institutions. With a cap of $60 million, it will be the largest scholarship fund ever established on behalf of American Indian and Alaska Native students.

· If you have questions about the Program, we will exhaust every effort to make sure that you know the facts about this unique opportunity.

· You may get more information by calling your Fiduciary Trust Office. The Trust Beneficiary Call Center can be reached at (888) 678-6836. We also encourage you to call that number to make sure your contact information is current.

Get the Story:
Larry Roberts: Land Buy-Back Program: Important Facts for Landowners (Indian Country Today 4/2)

Related Stories:
DOI makes transfer of nearly $580K into Cobell scholarship fund (4/2)
Members of Oglala Sioux Tribe respond to Cobell buyback offers (3/28)

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