The Program

The Cobell v Salazar Settlement Agreement (Cobell Settlement) provided a $1.9 billion Trust Land Consolidation Fund (Fund) to be expended within a 10-year period.

The Cobell Settlement made the Fund available to the U.S. Department of the Interior (Department or Interior) to acquire fractional interests in trust or restricted land from individuals who were willing to sell their interests for fair market value. In 2012, the Secretary of the Interior established the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations (Buy-Back Program or Program) to implement the land consolidation aspects of the Settlement.

The 10-year period for the Program's implementation of land consolidation efforts came to an end November 24, 2022.

The principal goal of the Buy-Back Program was to consolidate the maximum number of fractional land interests through voluntary sales that placed purchased interests into trust for Tribes. These transfers increased Tribal trust land bases for conservation, stewardship, economic development, or other uses deemed beneficial by sovereign Tribal nations.

The Program began purchasing fractional interests in December 2013 and consolidated more than 800,000 interests, equivalent to 2.3 million acres, across 50 locations in 15 states.


Graphic depicts results through December 31, 2018

More information about the Program and fractionation can be found on the following pages:

  • Fractionation – Explains what fractionation is; provides a brief history of fractionation in Indian Country, as well as the state of fractionation today; and the impact of the Buy-Back Program on reducing this problem.
  • Program History – Includes a timeline of Buy-Back Program milestones, background on the Cobell Settlement, and links to previous years’ Status Reports and Implementation Plans.
  • Organizing Principles – Discusses organizing principles the Buy-Back Program used to guide the design and implementation of the Program.
  • Scholarship Fund – Provides information related to the Cobell Education Scholarship Fund that was designed to provide financial assistance to American Indian and Alaska Native students wishing to pursue post-secondary education and training.

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