Nearly 200 Landowners with Fractional Interests at Swinomish Indian Reservation Receive $3.8 Million in Purchase Offers

Interested Sellers Have 45 Days to Respond in Voluntary Land Buy-Back Program

Last edited 02/27/2019

WASHINGTON – Deputy Secretary Michael Connor today announced that more than $3.8 million in purchase offers have been sent to nearly 200 landowners with fractional interests at the Swinomish Indian Reservation in Washington state. Interested sellers have 45 days – until December 11, 2015 – to return accepted offers in the pre-paid postage envelopes provided. 

Since 2013, the Buy-Back Program has paid more than $700 million to individual landowners and restored the equivalent of nearly 1.5 million acres of land to tribal governments.

“We continue to see enthusiasm for the Buy-Back Program across Indian Country,” said Deputy Secretary Connor. “As Program implementation progresses, federal staff and tribal leaders must continue to work together to ensure that landowners are provided all the information they can to make informed decisions about the use of their land.”

Individuals who choose to sell their interests receive payments directly into their Individual Indian Money (IIM) accounts. 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.

It is important that landowners think strategically about how to use the funds they receive from selling their land. Financial training, including budgeting, investing, and planning for the future, empowers beneficiaries to grow and sustain personal wealth

The Buy-Back Program implements the land consolidation component of the Cobell Settlement, which provided $1.9 billion to purchase fractional interests in trust or restricted land from willing sellers at fair market value within 10 years. Consolidated interests are immediately restored to tribal trust ownership for uses benefiting the reservation community and tribal members. 

There are approximately 245,000 owners of nearly three million fractional interests across Indian Country who are eligible to participate in the Buy-Back Program. Many see little or no economic benefit from what are often very small, undivided interests in lands that cannot be utilized due to their highly fractionated state. 

The Department has announced 42 locations where land consolidation activities such as planning, outreach, mapping, mineral evaluations, appraisals or acquisitions are expected to take place through the middle of 2017. These communities represent 83 percent of all outstanding fractional interests across Indian Country.

Landowners can contact the Trust Beneficiary Call Center at 888-678-6836 or visit their local Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians (OST) to update their contact information, ask questions about their land or purchase offers, and learn about financial planning resources. More information and detailed frequently asked questions are available to help individuals make informed decisions about their land.


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