Office of the Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs
U.S. Department of the Interior
The Department of the Interior announced yesterday more than 5,000 landowners with fractional interests at the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians Reservation have been sent more than $7 million in purchase offers from the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations. Landowners who received offers in July have until September 10, 2021, to consider and return accepted offers in the pre-paid postage envelopes provided.
The Buy-Back Program implements the land consolidation component of the Cobell Settlement, which provided $1.9 billion to consolidate fractional interests in trust or restricted land within a 10-year period set to expire in November 2022. As of July 2, 2021, approximately $108 million remains.
During a prior implementation at this location, the program consolidated more than 8,000 fractional interests and transferred 10,515 equivalent acres in trust to the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. To coordinate outreach efforts, the program has entered into a memorandum of agreement with the Tribe to guide program implementation at the Reservation.
“The Department’s collaboration with the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians will continue successes of the Program by strengthening our relationship with the Tribe and enhancing outreach to individual landowners,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Bryan Newland. “We are committed to working with Tribal nations to ensure that landowners receive prompt, reliable information about their land to help them make informed decisions about purchase offers.”
Interests consolidated through the program are restored to Tribal trust ownership. Returning fractionated lands to Tribes in trust has the potential to improve Tribal communities. Land restoration can support, for example, Tribal efforts to protect wildlife habitat, water and fisheries, or to adapt agriculture lands to meet challenges associated with climate change. It can also ease approval for infrastructure and community projects and help Tribes with an interest in transportation and utility routes or parks and recreational areas. Land consolidation also prevents land from going out of trust status through the probate process.
Informational tools are available to landowners who are encouraged to think about their options and consider how to use the funds they receive from selling their land. Detailed frequently asked questions are available at https://www.doi.gov/buybackprogram/faq, and additional information to help individuals make informed decisions about their land can be accessed at https://www.doi.gov/buybackprogram/informeddecisionmaking.
Landowners can contact the Trust Beneficiary Call Center at 888-678-6836 or TBCCmail@btfa.gov with questions about their land and/or purchase offers or to request a copy of the appraisal completed for their land.