WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of the Interior has announced over 3,000 landowners with fractional interests at the Lower Brule Reservation in South Dakota have been sent more than $2.8 million in purchase offers from the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations. Landowners who received offers have until June 16, 2022, to consider and return accepted offers.
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, which ends November 2022. The program will continue to purchase fractional interests while winding down operations.
“The Department is pleased to continue land consolidation work through the Buy-Back Program at the Lower Brule Reservation,” said Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Bryan Newland. “The Buy-Back Program is a unique and time-limited opportunity. Landowners are encouraged to contact the Trust Beneficiary Call Center to learn more about their options to make an informed decision.”
Interests consolidated through the program are immediately restored to tribal trust ownership. Program purchases can unify reservation lands for tribal benefit and use, such as economic development, infrastructure, housing, cultural preservation and rights-of-way.
As of May 18, 2022, approximately $13 million remains in the land consolidation fund. Approval and payment of returned offers will be dependent on whether sufficient funds are left to honor them. The program is collaborating with tribes to prioritize the use of the remaining funds to best meet tribal goals.
All landowners who respond before the deadline will be given equal consideration to allow landowners to make an informed decision without feeling rushed to be first in line. If a landowner wishes to participate in the program, they still must return their offer by the deadline date. Landowners submitting offers should refrain from making financial or other related decisions until they receive an acknowledgement notice confirming or declining the sale of their fractional interest(s).
Various informational tools are available to landowners, who are encouraged to think strategically about their options and carefully consider how to use the funds they receive from selling their land. For example, the program’s website includes:
- Detailed frequently asked questions, available at https://www.doi.gov/buybackprogram/faq
- Additional information to help individuals make informed decisions about their land, available at https://www.doi.gov/buybackprogram/informeddecisionmaking
Landowners can contact the Trust Beneficiary Call Center at 888-678-6836 or email [email protected] with questions about their land and/or purchase offers, or to request a copy of an appraisal report for any appraised tract in which they have an owner interest. Landowners can also contact their local Bureau of Trust Funds Administration office with additional questions.