Cobell Lawsuit & Settlement | Opinion

Gabe Galanda: More problems in DOI's land buy-back plan





Attorney Gabe Galanda warns of problems with the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations:
Consider the highlights–or lowlights–of Interior’s latest “plan” for Indian land “buy back.”

First, “the program will exclude reservations east of the Mississippi and in Alaska” according to Interior’s appraisers. In addition, Western states with high concentrations of Indian lands, most notably California, are not on Interior’s priority list for federal buy back funding.

Second, according to Interior’s latest plan, “once fair market value determinations have been made, the Department will mail offer packages to individuals with ownership interests in those valued tracts and seek to acquire those interests that individuals are willing to sell.”

In other words, Interior expresses no intention of consulting in person with individual Indian landowners to ensure they understand the proposed purchase and sale transaction. That despite a clear ruling in Cobell v. Norton, 225 F.R.D. 41, 45 (D.D.C. 2004) that such sales “require communication between individual Indian trust-land owners and agents of Interior.” Mass mailings are simply not the communication or consultation that is required to cause Indians to fully understand the consequences of signing boilerplate papers that will cause them to cede their ancestral lands.

Get the Story:
Gabe Galanda: Interior’s Indian Land Buy-Back Plan: More Sketchy By the Day (Galanda Broadman 11/11)

Related Stories:
Appraisal Foundation reviews Cobell land consolidation plans (11/8)