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Kevin Washburn: Cobell buy-back program helps Indian Country

Kevin Washburn, the former head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, spoke to tribal leaders at the National Congress of American Indians annual conference in San Diego, California, on October 19, 2015. Photo by Indianz.Com

Kevin Washburn, the former head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs highlights the successes of the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations, which will be coming to the Navajo Nation:
It took a year to stand up the Land Buy Back Program and the first purchase offers were made around Christmas of 2013. By now, the initiative has deployed more than $700 million in little more than two years and restored to tribes approximately 1.5 million acres of land, in tens of thousands of small fractional interests.

The Indian country-wide effort has recently come to New Mexico where it will work to consolidate interests in more than 4,000 allotments on the Navajo reservation. Up to 400,000 acres is at stake.

Navajo communities and the state of New Mexico will see an influx of millions of dollars of federal money paid to sellers who restore their land to the Navajo Nation. Each purchase will unlock value in the land and restore the Navajo Nation’s ability to steward the land for economic development and other purposes.

Allotment of Indian lands is a tragic legacy of federal Indian policy in the early 20th century, a scar on the conscience of this great nation. In the 21st century, we can be pleased to see a federal program working hard to diminish that harmful legacy. Let’s hope that the program succeeds with the Navajo Nation.

Get the Story:
Kevin K. Washburn: U.S. restores millions of acres to Native Americans (The Albuquerque Journal 3/2)

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