Cobell Lawsuit & Settlement | National | Politics

Rep. Young open to an extension for Cobell buy-back program

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs, said he was open to extending the time-frame for the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations.

The $3.4 billion Cobell settlement authorized $1.9 billion for land consolidation. H.R.4783, the Claims Settlement Act of 2010, requires the money to be spent within 10 years.

But since the Interior Department only starting making offers in December, three years later, Young said he was worried that the money might revert to the U.S. Treasury. Tribal leaders also expressed concerns about the pace of the land consolidation effort.

"The land buy-back program is slow to launch," Young said at a hearing before the House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs on Thursday.

So far, DOI has paid $14 million to landowners on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Larry Roberts, the deputy assistant secretary at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, told lawmakers. Overall, more than $100 million in offers have been extended to members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

The Land Buy-Back Program is run by Michael Connor, the new deputy secretary at DOI. Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn, the head of the BIA, is part of an inter-agency board that oversees the program, Roberts said.

Young said this management structure is problematic and is likely to blame for delays associated with the program.

Get the Story:
Tribal leaders criticize land-buyback program (AP 4/3)
Daines calls for fairness in Indian land buy-back program (NBC Montana 4/3)

Committee Notice:
Oversight Hearing on "Implementing the Cobell Settlement: Missed Opportunities and Lessons Learned.” (April 3, 2014)

Related Stories:
Audio from House subcommittee hearing on Cobell land buyback (4/3)
Larry Roberts: Answers about the Cobell land buy-back program (4/3)
DOI makes transfer of nearly $580K into Cobell scholarship fund (4/2)
Members of Oglala Sioux Tribe respond to Cobell buyback offers (3/28)
House subcommittee to hold hearing on land buy-back program (03/24)
DOI land buy-back boosts economy on Pine Ridge Reservation (03/19)
DOI announces $100M in land offers on Pine Ridge Reservation (3/18)
Deadline approaches for first Cobell land consolidation offers (1/27)

Join the Conversation