Cobell Lawsuit & Settlement | National

Cobell buy-back program includes base offer of $75 for interests

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell speaks with leaders of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes on August 20. She is pictured here with Chairman Ron Trahan, right, and Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana). Photo from Sen. Tester / Facebook

The Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations hopes to encourage landowners to sell their interests by offering a base payment of $75.

Many Indian beneficiaries are receiving high offers based on the "fair market" value of their land. But on the other end of the spectrum, one person's interest on the Flathead Reservation in Montana was appraised at just 52 cents.

“That’s because the land was so fractionalized, and they only own mineral rights,” Carolee Wenderoth, who works for the land title records office of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, told The Missoulian.

Wenderoth said the base payment brings the offer for that particular owner to $75.52. “It’s a small incentive to make the transaction happen,” she told the paper.

Overall, the Interior Department made $8.3 million in offers to landowners on the reservation. Responses are due October 24.

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 $103 million in transactions. Nearly 265,000 acres have been transferred to tribal governments.

Get the Story:
Government makes buyback offers to 2,100 Flathead Reservation landowners (The Missoulian 9/10)
Offers Mailed Out To Flathead Indian Reservation Landowners (ABC News 9/9)
Tribes are in ‘age of cooperation’ (The Ronan Valley Journal 9/10)

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