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Ariz. tribe to receive land consolidation funds
Friday, February 6, 2004

The Gila River Indian Community in Arizona will be participating in the expansion of the Bureau of Indian Affairs land consolidation program.

Interior Secretary Gale Norton and Gila River Gov. Richard Narcia will announce the tribe's participation today. According to the department, the tribe will receive funds within the next six months.

The fiscal year 2004 budget includes $21 million for land consolidation. In 2005, the Bush administration is requesting $75 million.

According to government officials and outside experts, the amount is not nearly enough to combat fractionation. The Indian Land Tenure Foundation estimated it would take up to $3 billion to consolidate individual Indian allotments.

At a Senate hearing last year, Wayne Nordwall, a regional BIA director, agreed with the high number. For just the 12 reservations where fractionation is a documented problem, he said it would take $144 million a year.

The BIA has operated a pilot consolidation program in the Great Lakes region with limited success. Although approximately 40,000 interests were purchased over the past five years, an equal number were created, leaving the BIA with a net gain of zero.

S.1721, the American Indian Probate Reform Act of 2004, seeks to stem the fractionation of the Indian estate and consolidate land. The Bush budget request says the provisions are a key element of trust reform.

Relevant Documents:
Fiscal Year 2005 Budget in Brief | Unified Trust Budget | Serving Tribal Communities | BIA Highlights | Departmental Offices [for Office of Special Trustee]

Indian Land Tenure Foundation -
Native American Bank -
Indian Land Working Group -
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton -
Indian Trust, Department of Interior -

Related Stories:
Probate reform bill heads to Senate for vote (01/29)
NCAI president uses speech to lobby for funding (01/22)
Tribes back improvements in probate reform bill (10/16)
Panel debating reform bill a third time (10/15)
Tribes focus energies on 'core' trust reform issues (05/30)
On fractionation, little progress in decades (05/09)
Indian land bill draws complaints from all sides (05/08)
Congress tackles trust land reform bill (5/6)
Bush land program called inadequate (5/6)

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