Pine Ridge Indian Reservation
WASHINGTON — Noting that the Pine Ridge Reservation is one of the most highly-fractionated land ownership locations in Indian country, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations (Buy-Back Program) on Tuesday extended its implementation on the reservation. Working in cooperation with the Oglala Sioux Tribe, the Buy-Back Program has provided offers to more than 18,000 Pine Ridge landowners with purchasable interests – representing approximately 80 percent of the reservation’s landowners – residing in all 50 states and a number of foreign countries.
Owners who received offers with a May 2, 2014, deadline will now have until July 21, 2014, to return a postmarked acceptance. Additional owners, such as landowners who have contacted the Trust Beneficiary Call Center (TBCC) and identified themselves as a willing seller, may also receive offers. All purchased interests will be consolidated and held in trust for the Oglala Sioux Tribe of the Pine Ridge Reservation. If you received an offer but need a replacement package, please immediately contact the TBCC at 888-678-6836 (toll free).
The Buy-Back Program implements the land consolidation component of the Cobell Settlement, which provided $1.9 billion to purchase fractional interests in trust or restricted land from willing sellers at fair market value within a 10-year period. Individuals who choose to sell their interests will receive payments directly into their IIM accounts. Consolidated interests are immediately restored to tribal trust ownership for uses benefiting the reservation community and tribal members.
Staff Ready to Answer Owner Questions. Landowners can contact the TBCC with questions about their purchase offers, visit their local Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians (OST) or Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) office, or find more information at www.doi.gov/buybackprogram/landowners. Landowners may also contact Oglala Sioux Tribe outreach staff at 605-867-2610 with questions.
Sellers Receive Fair Market Value. In addition to receiving fair market value for their land based on objective appraisals, sellers also receive a base payment of $75 per offer, regardless of the value of the land. Purchases from willing sellers thus far in the Program’s implementation (since December 2013) have resulted in the consolidation of nearly 175,000 acres of land for tribal governments, and in payments to landowners exceeding $61 million. While the amounts offered to individuals have varied, a few owners have already received more than $100,000 for their interests.
Cobell Education Scholarship Fund. Sales will result in up to $60 million in contributions to the Cobell Education Scholarship Fund. This donation is made by the Buy-Back Program, in addition to the amounts paid to individual sellers, so it will not reduce the amount landowners receive for their interests.
Participation Is Voluntary. Participation in the Buy-Back Program is voluntary and selling land does not jeopardize a landowner’s ability to receive individual settlement payments from the Cobell Settlement. Cobell Settlement payments are being handled separately by the Garden City Group, (800) 961-6109.