Cobell Lawsuit & Settlement

DOI still planning to start Cobell land consolidation this year

The Interior Department is still planning to start the land consolidation portion of the $3.4 billion Cobell trust fund settlement by the end of the year.

The settlement sets aside $1.9 billion to acquire fractionated interests from individual Indians. The program is entirely voluntary and already there have been questions from tribes and their members about the ability of the federal government to make it a success.

“This program will be successful on the ground only to the extent that tribal leaders themselves get behind it and evangelize for it,” Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn, the head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, told McClatchy Newspapers. “There’s always a trust issue, and the track record hasn’t been very good.”

The Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations is due to start later this year with purchases in Washington, Montana and South Dakota. In the latter state, the Pine Ridge Reservation is a big target -- $126 million could be spent to acquire 1.2 million acres of fractional interests.

Other reservations with high levels of fractionation are being singled out but the Obama administration insists the money will go around. A cap is being imposed to ensure that funds aren't exhausted in any one place.

Any fractional interests that are acquired will be transferred to tribal governments.

Get the Story:
U.S. gears up for huge, difficult land buyback for Indian tribes (McClatchy Newspapers 8/1)
$1.9 Billion Dispute: Tribal Leaders Fuming Over Cobell Land Buy-Back Program (Indian Country Today 7/29)

Related Stories:
Beneficiaries in Arizona in line for Cobell consolidation funds (06/19)
DOI gives update on land consolidation program under Cobell (6/18)
Cherokee Nation low on list for Cobell land consolidation plan (05/06)
BIA aims to start Cobell land consolidation purchases this year (04/22)

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