Blackfeet Nation to see $107M from Cobell land buy-back program

"Today is a huge milestone in restoring tribal homelands to Blackfeet Nation for future generations," Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said of her visit to the Blackfeet Nation in Montana on May 3, 2016. Photo from Twitter

The Blackfeet Nation of Montana is joining the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations.

Chairman Harry Barnes signed a cooperative agreement with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on the reservation on Tuesday. The tribe will help facilitate purchases of fractionated interests from willing individual Indian landowners.

"The kickoff of Blackfeet's own Land Buy Back Program is more unique because the entire program came about through the hard work of our own Elouise Cobell,” Barnes said in a press release, referring to the late Elouise Cobell, who was the lead plaintiff in the Indian trust fund lawsuit.

The $3.4 billion settlement to the lawsuit included $1.9 billion for Indian landowners who want to sell their fractionated interests. The Indian Land Consolidation Act requires the federal government to pay "fair market value" for the interests.

Since the program began in late 2013, nearly 73,000 individual Indians have received $763.9 million for their interests as of April 29. The equivalent of nearly 1.5 million acres has been transferred to tribes as a result.

“This nation-to-nation agreement honors the work of the late Elouise Cobell and will restore tribal homelands for the benefit of current and future Blackfeet tribal members,” Jewell said. “Together, we are fulfilling President Obama’s commitment to help strengthen Native American communities through self-determination, repairing broken promises and investing in the future of tribal nations.”

During her visit to the reservation, Jewell received a name in the Blackfeet language that translates to "Far Away Woman."

Get the Story:
Jewell announces $107M for Blackfeet land buy-back (The Great Falls Tribune 5/4)
Interior secretary visits Montana: Sally Jewell calls for holistic land management, praises land buy-back (The Montana Standard 5/4)
Blackfeet Tribe Joining The Indian Land Buy-Back Program (Montana Public Radio 5/3)
U.S. Secretary of the Interior visits Montana (KBZK 5/3)

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