More Than $100 Million Available as Land Buy-Back Program Deadlines Approach for Thousands of Indian Landowners

Opportunity Pending for Landowners with Fractional Interests at Coeur d’Alene, Northern Cheyenne, Pine Ridge, Salt River and Umatilla Indian Reservations

interiorWASHINGTON – More than 10,000 owners of fractional interests in trust or restricted land in Indian Country are facing fast approaching deadlines for $100 million in purchase offers from the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations (Buy-Back Program).

Owners of fractional interest from the following tribal communities must respond soon to accept and return purchase offers (including a signed, notarized deed) for fractional interests:

  • Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (deadline: March 6)
  • Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation (deadline: March 7)
  • Coeur d’Alene Reservation (deadline: March 23)
  • Umatilla Indian Reservation (deadline: March 30)
  • Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (deadline: April 20)

Many landowners with fractional interests on the Rosebud, Prairie Band Potawatomi, and Cheyenne River Indian Reservation can also expect to receive offers in the coming weeks.

The Buy-Back Program allows interested individual landowners to receive payments for voluntarily selling their fractional land interests. The Program implements the land consolidation component of the Cobell Settlement, which provided a $1.9 billion fund to purchase fractional interests in trust or restricted land from willing sellers at fair market value within a 10-year period. Interested sellers receive payments directly into their Individual Indian Money (IIM) account.

Thus far, the Buy-Back Program has paid nearly $340 million to individual landowners and has restored the equivalent of more than 540,000 acres of land to tribal governments.

Sales of land interests results in land consolidation, which enables tribes to manage and use reservation lands for the benefit of the tribal community and generations to come. Consolidated interests are immediately transferred to tribal governments in trust for uses benefiting the tribes and their members.

Tribes are able to utilize consolidated lands for purposes consistent with the values and needs of their members, such as housing, community centers or businesses, or for recreational or cultural purposes.

Step-by-Step Resource for Landowners. A step-by-step video is available at http://www.doi.gov/buybackprogram/tribes/the-purchase-offer-process.cfm to help assist individuals with identifying critical information included in their Offer Package and completing the necessary forms.

Missed a Deadline? If you own fractional land interests on a reservation and missed the 45-day deadline to accept your offer, you may:

  1. Return your offer (including a signed, notarized deed) even though it is past the deadline. This late submission will be reviewed based on capacity, appraisal expiration, and the availability of funds. We cannot guarantee acceptance of late submissions.
  2. Call the TBCC and indicate you are a Willing Seller. As resources allow, the Buy-Back Program may send offers to landowners who are interested in selling their interests after the Program’s offer response deadline for a particular location provided there is a current appraisal and funds are available.

Financial Awareness. If a landowner chooses to sell their interest, it is important that they think strategically about how to use the funds they receive from selling their land. If a landowner chooses not to sell, there are additional considerations and preparations for estate planning that they should begin making to ensure that fractional interests are passed down to family members. Find more information at:http://www.doi.gov/buybackprogram/landowners/financial-awareness.cfm.

Staff Ready to Answer Owner Questions. Landowners can contact the Trust Beneficiary Call Center (TBCC) at 888-678-6836 with questions about the Buy-Back Program, 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.

Extensive frequently asked questions/answers are also online at: http://www.doi.gov/buybackprogram/landowners/upload/Frequently-Asked-Questions.pdf.

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