After government-to-government discussions, new schedule includes locations with 96 percent of eligible landowners
Date: May 17, 2016
WASHINGTON – Following extensive outreach with tribal leaders and American Indian landowners, Interior Deputy Secretary Michael L. Connor today announced an expanded schedule for implementing the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations (Program) at 63 additional locations from 2018 through mid-2021. Since it began making offers in December 2013, the Program has paid more than $740 million to individual landowners and restored the equivalent of nearly 1.5 million acres of land to tribal governments.
The expansion brings the number of locations planned for the Program to 105, a total that includes more than 96 percent of all landowners with fractionated interests and more than 98 percent of both purchasable fractional interests and equivalent acres in Program-eligible areas. About 245,000 landowners hold nearly three million fractional interests across Indian Country.
“The Buy-Back Program embodies the priorities set forth by the Obama Administration's goal to build effective partnerships with American Indian communities, promote sustainable economic development and tribal culture, and protect tribal lands,” said Deputy Secretary Connor. “In partnership with tribal governments, this Program is generating new opportunities to work more efficiently, stimulate community dialogue and facilitate land use planning, while ensuring that lands stay in trust for the benefit of tribal nations.”
The 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. Individuals who choose to voluntarily sell their interests will receive payments directly in their Individual Indian Money accounts. Consolidated interests are immediately restored to tribal trust ownership for uses benefiting the reservation community and tribal members.
Informed by early planning activities and tribal engagement in 2013-2014, Interior identified 42 locations in November 2014 where land consolidation activities – such as planning, outreach, mapping, mineral evaluations, appraisals or acquisitions – have either already occurred or are expected to take place through the middle of 2017.
In November 2015, the Program announced a Planning Initiative.
The following is a list of the 63 additional locations added to the Buy-Back Program schedule for implementation from 2018 through mid-2021:
A full list of the 105 locations now identified for implementation, can be found at: https://www.doi.gov/buybackprogram/program-implementation-schedule.