WASHINGTON – The Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations (Buy-Back Program) today launched two new Public Service Announcements (PSAs) as part of the continuing effort to inform Indian landowners about the opportunity to consolidate fractionated interests into tribal trust ownership. Broadcast PSAs, featuring Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs and member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma Kevin Washburn and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes' Councilman Lloyd Irvine, highlight the value and importance of the Program for tribal communities. A PSA from Oglala Sioux President Bryan V. Brewer will be posted in the coming weeks. The PSAs are available on our Outreach Materials page.
The Buy-Back Program implements the land consolidation component of the Cobell Settlement, which provided $1.9 billion to purchase fractionated interests in trust or restricted land from willing sellers at fair market value. Accepted offers have already resulted in payments to landowners totaling more than $35.5 million and the consolidation and restoration of more than 100,000 acres to tribes.
While the amounts offered to individuals will vary, a few owners have already received more than $100,000 for their interests. Individuals who choose to sell their interests will receive payments directly into their IIM accounts, typically within seven days after the Program receives a complete, accepted offer package from an owner. Consolidated interests are immediately restored to tribal trust ownership for uses benefiting the reservation community and tribal members.
Across Indian Country, more than 245,000 individual Indian landowners have nearly 3 million fractionated interests on 150 reservations and are eligible to participate in the Program under the Cobell Settlement. These landowners are spread across the country. For example, the Program recently announced that purchase offers have been sent to nearly 16,000 individual landowners – located in 50 states as well as overseas – with fractionated interests in parcels on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. These purchase offers are time sensitive (deadline: May 2). For these reasons, the Program requires a vigorous national public education and outreach effort.
The Program believes it is critical to exhaust all efforts to reach individual landowners and communicate the importance of reducing fractionation, the advantages of selling their land, and resources for them to gather more information.
Program personnel have been working in concert with tribes and tribal organizations to conduct outreach at pow-wows, community meetings, and large Indian organizational gatherings to make sure that landowners know the facts about the unique opportunity before them. In addition, as the Program is implemented for particular reservations, personnel are working cooperatively with tribal governments to answer landowner questions, locate individuals whose whereabouts are currently unknown, notarize documents, and hold outreach events to ensure that landowners have the resources and support needed to understand their options and make timely decisions about their fractionated land interests.
Landowners can contact their local Fiduciary Trust Officer or call the Trust Beneficiary Call Center at 888-678-6836 with questions and to register as interested sellers. More information is also available on our Landowner page.