Cobell Lawsuit & Settlement | Opinion

Michael Connor: Making strides with Cobell land buy-back program

Michael L. Connor. Photo from Department of the Interior

Michael Connor, the deputy secretary at the Interior Department, provides an update on the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations:
The Program has paid more than $288 million to landowners and restored the equivalent of more than 475,000 acres of land to tribal governments during its first year of sending offers. Currently, buy-back activities are scheduled to be implemented in 42 tribal communities -- locations that represent 83 percent of all outstanding fractional interests - through the middle of 2017. And the number of locations will increase in the years ahead.

Program sales are already making a significant difference for individuals, families and their communities. For example, the Oglala Sioux Tribe of the Pine Ridge Reservation recently announced that the tribe is embarking on a $9 million housing program, aided by recent acquisition of land through the Buy-Back Program.

The Program is part of the historic Cobell Settlement, which provided $1.9 billion to purchase fractional interests in trust or restricted land from willing sellers at fair market value within a 10-year period. Individuals who choose to sell their fractionated interests 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.

Get the Story:
Michael Connor: Making Strides to Restore Native American Homelands (DOI Blog 12/3)

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