Cobell Lawsuit & Settlement | National

DOI enters Cobell buy-back agreements with three more tribes






Michael L. Connor, the Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior.

The Interior Department signed three more agreements as part of the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations.

The new agreements are with the Coeur D’Alene Tribe of Idaho, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation of Oregon and the Gila River Indian Community of Arizona. They will help facilitate the purchase of fractionated interests from willing sellers on their reservations.

“We are encouraged by the growing enthusiasm for the Buy-Back Program across Indian Country, and the increased engagement by tribal nations to participate in its implementation,” Deputy Secretary Michael Connor, the second highest-ranking official at DOI, said in a press release.

The $3.4 billion Cobell settlement authorized $1.9 billion for land consolidation. DOI is using the money to buy fractionated interests from landowners in order to return the land to tribal governments.

Since December, DOI has successfully concluded $62 million in transactions with individual Indians. More than 177,000 acres has been returned to tribal governments through the program.

“Since the very beginning of the Buy Back Program, we have said that its success on each reservation will depend on the willingness of tribal leaders to engage with us in moving this important initiative forward. In the agreements signed today, these tribal leaders are offering valuable support that will help to ensure the success of the program on their reservations,” Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn, the head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, said in the press release.

The settlement, which became law in December 2010, requires DOI to spend the money within 10 years.

Get the Story:
Interior Signs Agreements with Three Additional Tribal Nations to Reduce Fractionation in Indian Country (DOI 5/29)

Federal Register Notice:
Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations under Cobell (May 23, 2014)

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