WASHINGTON, D.C. ― Following extensive outreach with tribal leaders and American Indian landowners, Interior Deputy Secretary Michael L. Connor announced an expanded schedule for implementing the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations (Program) at 63 additional locations from 2018 through mid-2021.
Since it began making offers in December 2013, the Program has paid more than $740 million to individual landowners and restored the equivalent of nearly 1.5 million acres of land to tribal governments.
The expansion brings the number of locations planned for the Program to 105, a total that includes more than 96 percent of all landowners with fractionated interests and more than 98 percent of both purchasable fractional interests and equivalent acres in Program-eligible areas. About 245,000 landowners hold nearly three million fractional interests across Indian Country.
“The Buy-Back Program embodies the priorities set forth by the Obama Administration’s goal to build effective partnerships with American Indian communities, promote sustainable economic development and tribal culture, and protect tribal lands,” Connor said. “In partnership with tribal governments, this Program is generating new opportunities to work more efficiently, stimulate community dialogue and facilitate land use planning, while ensuring that lands stay in trust for the benefit of tribal nations.”
The Program implements the land consolidation component of the Cobell Settlement, which provided $1.9 billion to purchase fractional interests in trust or restricted land from willing sellers at fair market value within 10 years. Individuals who choose to voluntarily sell their interests will receive payments directly in their Individual Indian Money accounts. Consolidated interests are immediately restored to tribal trust ownership for uses benefiting the reservation community and tribal members.
Informed by early planning activities and tribal engagement in 2013-2014, Interior identified 42 locations in November 2014 where land consolidation activities – such as planning, outreach, mapping, mineral evaluations, appraisals or acquisitions – have either already occurred or are expected to take place through the middle of 2017.
In November 2015, the Program announced a Planning Initiative to assist in the development of the implementation schedule announced. Through discussions with tribal leaders and events with landowners, the two-pronged Planning Initiative gathered input from tribal governments and landowners. The Program received Expressions of Interest from a significant number of tribal governments and – since the beginning of the Program through the Planning Initiative’s deadline of March 11, 2016 – 37,059 individuals registered as willing sellers.
Because effective planning and coordination take many months, it is critical that the Program begin the process to educate landowners, identify tribal priorities, and build cooperative working relationships. A Program representative will contact each Tribe as planning for the expanded implementation begins at each location.
Decisions about where to schedule implementation were based on a number of factors that were developed through months of government-to-government
discussions, including: severity of fractionation; degree of ownership-overlap between reservations; appraisal complexity; tribal readiness and interest; number of owners who have demonstrated an interest in selling fractional interests; and cost and time efficiency.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell has discussed a need for Interior to work with Congress on a longer-term solution to deal with fractionation, given that the funding and time limits of theCobell Settlement do not provide enough to consolidate all fractional interests across Indian Country. Secretary Jewell directed the oversight board that manages the Buy-Back Program, led by Deputy Secretary Connor, to undergo a 60 day analysis with the many offices involved in implementation. The board will send options to the Secretary for review to extend the life of the Program so that future participants can benefit and allow the Program to return to locations where implementation has already occurred.
The Program continues to reallocate unused land purchase funds to scheduled locations. This will help determine if remaining resources exist, and where they might be used at additional locations or locations where purchase offers have already been sent.
Additionally, interested landowners at locations not scheduled for implementation, or on locations where offers have already been extended, are encouraged to call the Trust Beneficiary Call Center (Call Center) at 888.678.6836 to indicate that they are a willing seller and/or to update contact information.
Registering as a willing seller does not commit you to selling your land, nor does it guarantee an offer will be extended; it merely identifies interest to help advance planning. The Program will re-evaluate its resources and progress by November 2018 to determine if additional locations can be added to the schedule.
Individuals can contact the Call Center or visit their local Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians (OST) or Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) office to learn more about their land and their options – including how the Program works. The Call Center and local OST staff can also help landowners think strategically about how to use funds they may receive through the Program.
For more details about the Program, the Planning Initiative, implementation to date, and the significant economic impact in Indian Country, please see the Program’s 2015 Status Report.
The following is a list of the 63 additional locations added to the Buy-Back Program schedule for implementation from 2018 through mid-2021:
Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma
Apache Tribe of Oklahoma
Blue Lake Rancheria, California
Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes, Oklahoma
Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Oklahoma
Colorado River Indian Tribe of the Colorado River Indian Reservation, Arizona and California
Comanche Nation, Oklahoma
Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon
Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma
Forest County Potawatomi Community, Wisconsin
Fort Independence Indian Community of Paiute Indians of the Fort Independence Reservation, California
Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake, California
Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin
Hoopa Valley Tribe, California
Hopi Tribe of Arizona
Kalispel Indian Community of the Kalispel Reservation, Washington
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Michigan
Kickapoo Tribe of Indians of the Kickapoo Reservation in Kansas
Kiowa Indian Tribe of Oklahoma
Kootenai Tribe of Idaho
Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin
Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of the Lac du Flambeau Reservation of Wisconsin
Minnesota Chippewa – Bois Forte Band (Nett Lake)
Minnesota Chippewa – Grand Portage Band
Minnesota Chippewa – Leech Lake Band
Minnesota Chippewa – Mille Lacs Band
Minnesota Chippewa – White Earth Band
Morongo Band of Mission Indians, California
Muckleshoot Indian Tribe
Nisqually Indian Tribe
Omaha Tribe of Nebraska
Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Indians, Oklahoma
Pala Band of Luiseno Mission Indians of the Pala Reservation, California
Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma
Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians of the Pechanga Reservation, California
Pueblo of Laguna, New Mexico
Quileute Tribe of the Quileute Reservation, Washington
Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin
Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, Minnesota
Rincon Band of Luiseno Mission Indians of the Rincon Reservation, California
Sac & Fox Nation of Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska
Sac & Fox Nation, Oklahoma
Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan
Santee Sioux Nation, Nebraska
Skokomish Indian Tribe
Spirit Lake Tribe, North Dakota
Spokane Tribe of the Spokane Reservation
Stockbridge Munsee Community, Wisconsin
Suquamish Indian Tribe of the Port Madison Reservation
Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation
The Chickasaw Nation
The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation
The Seminole Nation of Oklahoma
Tohono O’odham Nation of Arizona
Tulalip Tribes of Washington
Upper Sioux Community, Minnesota
Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah & Ouray Reservation, Utah
Ute Mountain Tribe of the Ute Mountain Reservation, Colorado, New Mexico & Utah
Walker River Paiute Tribe of the Walker River Reservation, Nevada
Yurok Tribe of the Yurok Reservation, California
Zuni Tribe of the Zuni Reservation, New Mexico
A full list of the 105 locations now identified for implementation, can be found here.