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Umatilla Tribes acquire 4K acres with Cobell buy-back program






A view of the Umatilla Reservation in Oregon. Photo from Facebook

The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation in Oregon are seeing the benefits of the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations.

Since offers went out in September, the tribe has re-acquired 4,250 acres from willing sellers. Some $4.16 million has gone to individual Indians so far.

“We have a lot of older tribal members thinking maybe they should sell,” Bill Tovey, the tribe's director of economic and community development, told The East Oregonian. “Mostly my staff just goes out and listens to people. We’ll help them fill out their paperwork, and do whatever they need.”

About 36 percent of offers have been accepted, Tovey said. The tribe anticipates the Interior Department has will send out a second round of offers early next year.

The $3.4 billion Cobell settlement provided $1.9 billion for Indian landowners who want to sell their fractionated interests. DOI will pay "fair market value" as required by the Indian Land Consolidation Act.

Since the program started last winter, DOI has successfully concluded more than $300 million in transactions. Nearly 500,000 acres have been returned to tribes.

More than $750 million in offers have been extended since December 2013 so not all landowners accept them. The participation rate ranges from 30 percent to 40 percent on each individual reservation.

Get the Story:
Umatilla tribe gets 4,000 acres in buy-back program (AP / The East Oregonian 12/22)
Tribes complete first wave of land buy-back (The East Oregonian 12/18)

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