Land Acquisition

Acquisition is the process of making offers to landowners and transferring the voluntarily sold interests to the Tribe with jurisdiction.

The process begins once fair market value determinations are made and the Program generates and mails purchase offer packages to eligible individual landowners (eligibility criteria can be found here). When an individual completes and returns an offer package, the Program approves and processes the offer, transfers the interests, and pays the landowner.

To make the acquisitions process efficient, dedicated Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) personnel use the Trust Asset and Accounting Management System to automatically generate purchase offer packages.  Each package includes a cover letter, instructions, a deed and corresponding inventory of purchasable interests, maps, and a self-addressed pre-paid postage return envelope. Landowners have at least 45 calendar days from the date of the cover letter to sell some, all or none of the fractional interests listed in their offer.

The offer amount includes:

  • Appraised fair market value;
  • Administrative payment for transferring mineral interests; and
  • A $75 base payment

The following example illustrates these components. In this example, the owner has a one percent undivided fractional ownership interest in three distinct 160-acre tracts, each with a different bundle of ownership rights. The subsurface, mineral ownership rights associated with two of the tracts have been determined to have no economic value. The offer to the owner for his/her interest in the three tracts would be $1,239 as follows:

Example illustration of offer amount

Appraised Values
          Tract 1 (Both [B] resource code)  $640 (1% of $64,000 surface tract value and see below)
          Tract 2 (Surface Only [S] resource code) $500 (1% of $50,000 tract value)
          Tract 3 (Mineral Only [M] resource code) $0 (see below)
Administrative payment for transferring mineral interests/rights
          Addition for Tract 1 Subsurface $12 (1% of 160 acres x $7.50/acre minimum)
          Addition for Tract 3 Subsurface $12 (1% of 160 acres x $7.50/acre minimum)
Base Payment $75 (per offer, not interest)
Total Offer Amount $1,239  

Landowners who decide to sell their land have several options for getting sale documents notarized and returned for processing. Notary services are often offered at outreach events, local Bureau of Trust Funds Administration (BTFA) offices, BIA Agencies, and banking institutions.

Once a package is completed and notarized, a landowner may return the offer package documents via the pre-paid return mail envelope. For added assurance and security, owners may also choose to return their documents via FedEx or the U.S. Postal Service with tracking.

The Program’s acceptance of returned offer packages is contingent on the availability of funding, meaning the approval of offers and subsequent payments to landowners is not be guaranteed. If funds are not available to accept all returned offers at the final implementation, the Program will prioritize offers using predetermined criteria. The Bureau of Indian Affairs Acquisition Center (BIA AC) will process and approve complete returned offer package documents, if funds are available, within 60 days from the return-by date. After the sale is approved and processed, an Acknowledgement Notice will be sent confirming the transaction is complete and the total payment amount deposited into the landowner’s IIM account. Landowners should consider setting up direct deposit to ensure fast and secure payment delivery.

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