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Cobell buy-back agreements come with little money for tribes

Filed Under: Cobell | National | Politics
More on: 113th, doi, land consolidation, michael connor, scia, senate, standing rock sioux
   


A view of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Photo from Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

Tribes that enter into cooperative agreements for the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations won't get a lot of money from the Interior Department.

Micheal Connor, the deputy secretary at DOI, said the starting figure for discussions is about $500,000. Some tribes might receive more while others might see less, depending on the circumstances on their reservations, he told the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

Connor said the amount can go up or down about $200,000. "They are very much open to a negotiation process," he said of the agreements.

The money typically goes for outreach. Connor said tribes are in a better position to know which members with fractionated interests might want to sell their land.

Some tribes and lawmakers are pushing the Obama administration to go even further and enter into self-determination contracts for the program. But Connor said that poses an issue because the Cobell trust fund settlement limits DOI to $285 million in administrative costs.

With 150 reservations eligible to participate, it would be impossible to fund all of the contracts, Connor told the committee. DOI's administrative fee is based on 15 percent of the $1.9 billion land consolidation fund but tribes would need nearly double that amount -- about 27 percent -- to run the program on their own, he said.

A handful of tribes have signed cooperative agreements to help facilitate sales. Connor said the process -- which includes outreach, appraisals, offers and purchases -- will take about 18 to 24 months on each reservation.


Deputy secretary Michael Connor discusses tribal agreements for Cobell buy-back program at 5.22 and 15.02. Audio from the Indianz.Com Sound Cloud

So far, DOI has paid $72 million to landowners. More than 203,000 acres have been returned to tribes as a result of the program.

"The acquisition of these fractionated interests will provide the tribe with increased land base that may be utilized for purposes such as housing areas for tribal members," Chairman Dave Archambault of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said in a press release. The tribe just signed a cooperative agreement with DOI.

Get the Story:
Agreement will reduce "fractionated' tribal lands (The Bismarck Tribune 7/16)
Govt. to Buy Land for Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (NC1 7/16)
Many Frustrated By Stalled Cobell Settlements (KTMF 7/16)

Committee Notice:
Oversight Hearing on "Improving the Trust System: Continuing Oversight of the Department of the Interior's Land Buy-Back Program" (July 16, 2014)

Related Stories:
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe signs agreement for Cobell buy-back (7/16)
Garden City Group executive ties Cobell payment delay to DOI (7/16)
Garden City Group executive to testify at SCIA's Cobell hearing (7/15)
DOI enters Cobell land buy-back agreements with Montana tribes (07/09)
Chuck Sams: Umatilla Tribes sign Cobell land-buy back agreement (07/09)
Rep. Daines introduces bill for tribal control of Cobell buy-back (07/03)
Indian Land Tenure Foundation hosts seminar on Cobell lawsuit (07/01)
SDPR: Buy-back program offers $50M on Rosebud Reservation (06/27)
DOI sends out $50M in buy-back offers on Rosebud Reservation (6/25)
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes waiting on appraisals (06/19)
Coeur d'Alene Tribe waiting on appraisals for Cobell buy-back (06/13)
DOI allocates $4.1M on Cobell buy-back for Coeur d'Alene Tribe (6/11)
DOI plans to spend $12M in buy-back funds for Umatilla Tribes (6/10)
Lawmakers want tribes to run Cobell land buy-back program (6/6)
DOI enters Cobell buy-back agreements with three more tribes (05/29)
DOI sets agenda for Cobell buy-back listening session on May 29 (05/23)
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DOI looks to spend $100M on Navajo Nation for Cobell buy-back (5/19)
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Larry Roberts: Answers about the Cobell land buy-back program (4/3)
DOI makes transfer of nearly $580K into Cobell scholarship fund (4/2)
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House subcommittee to hold hearing on land buy-back program (03/24)
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