The Secretary of the Interior established the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations (Buy-Back Program) to implement the land consolidation aspects of the Cobell Settlement Agreement.
The Program has placed land into trust for tribes at three reservations: Pine Ridge, Rosebud and Makah.
The Department recently announced sending an additional $100 million in purchase offers to nearly 16,000 landowners with fractionated interests on Pine Ridge Reservation. Owners must accept and return current purchase offers for fractionated lands on Pine Ridge by May 2, 2014. The Pine Ridge Reservation is among the most highly-fractionated locations in the United States; landowners with purchasable interests have been located in 46 states across the country.
Additional offers will also be mailed to landowners at Makah and Rosebud in Spring 2014.
Owners Must Respond Soon
Purchase offers are valid for 45 calendar days from the date of the Cover Letter that is included in the Offer Package provided to owners.
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) office, or contact their tribe’s staff working with the Buy-Back Program.
Sellers Receive Fair Market Value
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.
Sellers receive fair market value for their land, based on objective appraisals. In addition, sellers also receive a base payment of $75 per offer, regardless of the value of the land. Some owners have already received more than $100,000 for their interests (offer amounts will vary based on the particular interests held). Interests purchased from individuals through the program will be restored to Indian tribes.
Outreach Events are in Progress
For more than a year, tribes and Interior have conducted outreach events throughout Indian Country, such as pow-wows, community meetings, and large Indian organizational gatherings to get the word out about the program and give landowners the opportunity to gather information in order to make informed decisions about their land. For information about upcoming events for Pine Ridge and Makah, contact the Trust Beneficiary Call Center at (888) 678-6836.
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.
This section includes Buy-Back Program information specific to landowners of fractional interests, including offer packet documents and a link for information regarding landowners whose whereabouts are unknown (WAU).