A marker to the Nez Perce War in Idaho. Photo: Jimmy Emerson, DVM

Interior Department sends out another $13.1M in Cobell buy-back offers

Landowners on three reservations are the latest to participate in the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations.

According to the Department of the Interior, $10.5 million in offers went out to more than 1,000 landowners on the Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho, the largest amount announced on Monday. Another $2.0 million was offered to 584 landowners on the Pechanga Reservation in California while $491,000 went out to 83 landowners on the Rincon Reservation, also in California.

“The Buy-Back Program has already made a difference for tribal communities, and enabled important investments for tribes, such as consolidating land for critical infrastructure projects,” said program director John McClanahan said in a press release. “Many landowners see little or no economic benefit from what are often very small, undivided interests in lands that cannot be utilized due to their highly fractionated state. Consolidating fractional interests facilitates more effective land use and trust management.”

The program was created by the $3.4 billion settlement to the Cobell trust fund lawsuit. The goal is to consolidate fractionated interests in Indian Country by restoring ownership to tribal governments.

Indianz.Com on SoundCloud: House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs May 23, 2017

As of June 23, landowners have received $1.2 billion for their fractionated interests, according to the department. The equivalent of 2.1 million acres has been returned to tribes, who were the original owners of the land before the allotment period.

The settlement set aside $1.9 billion for the Buy-Back Program and only about $600 million is left a top Interior official told Congress in May. The Trump administration does not plan on seeking more funds for land consolidation once the money runs out.

Interior Department Report:
2016 Status Report: Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations (November 2016)

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