Bureau of Indian Affairs within reach of land-into-trust milestone

Larry Roberts, the acting head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, speaks at the National Congress of American Indians executive council winter session in Washington, D.C., on February 22, 2016. Photo by Indianz.Com

With only 10 months left in the Obama administration, can the Bureau of Indian Affairs meet its goal to place 500,000 acres in trust by January 2018?

The agency is certainly within reach of a major milestone. Acting assistant secretary Larry Roberts told the National Congress of American Indians last month that the BIA has placed about 400,000 acres in trust.

According to the AP, land-into-trust applications are pending for about 525,000 acres. So it's possible that the BIA will meet the goal before President Barack Obama leaves office.

"This administration has really heard from tribes that the process is much too slow,” NCAI general counsel John Dossett told the AP. “It can certainly be better, though. It should happen much, much faster.”

During the Bush era, only about 233,000 acres was placed in trust, the AP reported. The process came to a near-halt during the second half of the former president's tenure.

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Native American tribes steadily gaining reservation lands (AP 3/20)

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