Deadline Approaching for Landowners with Fractionated Interests at Pine Ridge Reservation
The Department of the Interior has sent purchase offers totalling more than $100 million to nearly 16,000 landowners with fractionated interests at the Pine Ridge Reservation. These offers will provide landowners the opportunity to voluntarily sell their interests, which would be consolidated and held in trust for the Oglala Sioux Tribe of the Pine Ridge Reservation.Pine Ridge is among the most highly-fractionated locations in the United States; landowners with purchasable interests have been located in all 50 states.
The Buy-Back Program was created to implement the land consolidation component of the Cobell Settlement, which provided a $1.9 billion fund to purchase fractionated interests in trust or restricted land from willing sellers, at fair market value, within a 10-year period. Interested sellers will receive payments directly into their IIM accounts. Consolidated interests will be transferred to tribal governments for uses benefiting the tribes and their members.
Owners Must Respond Soon. Purchase offers are valid for 45 calendar days. Owners must accept and return current purchase offers for fractionated lands on Pine Ridge postmarked by May 2, 2014.
Staff Ready to Answer Owner Questions. Landowners can contact the Trust Beneficiary Call Center at (888) 678-6836 with questions about their purchase offers, visit their local Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians (OST) or Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) office, or find more information at www.doi.gov/buybackprogram/
Sellers Receive Fair Market Value. In addition to receiving fair market value for their land based on objective appraisals, sellers also receive a base payment of $75 per offer, regardless of the value of the land. Early purchases from willing sellers have resulted in the consolidation of more than 100,000 acres of land for the tribe, and in payments to landowners exceeding $35.5 million. While the amounts offered to individuals have varied, a few owners have already received more than $100,000 for their interests. On average, payments to individuals have been made within seven days after Interior approves a complete, accepted offer package.
Tribal Outreach Events Are in Progress. Interior has worked cooperatively with the Oglala Sioux Tribe over the past several months to conduct outreach to educate landowners about this unique opportunity, answer questions and help individuals make a timely decision about their land. For information about outreach events at Pine Ridge where landowners can gather information in order to make informed decisions about their land, contact the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s outreach staff at 605-867-2610.
Participation Is Voluntary. Participation in the Buy-Back Program is voluntary and selling land does not jeopardize a landowner’s ability to receive individual settlement payments from the Cobell Settlement. Cobell Settlement payments are being handled separately by the Garden City Group, (800) 961-6109.
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