WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of the Interior has announced that nearly 3,500 landowners with fractional interests at the Lake Traverse Reservation in South Dakota have been sent more than $42 million in purchase offers from the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations. Landowners who receive offers have until Sept. 27, 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 19, 2021, approximately $107 million remains.
So far, the program has consolidated more than 5,400 fractional interests and nearly 8,900 equivalent acres at the Lake Traverse Reservation. In order to coordinate outreach efforts, the program has entered into a memorandum of agreement with the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate to guide Program implementation at the Reservation.
“We are proud of the initial Buy-Back Program implementation at the Lake Traverse Reservation and are excited to continue this effort,” said Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Bryan Newland. “We must continue our collaboration with the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate to make the current round of implementation a success, while also ensuring that landowners understand their options, and have access to the information they need to make an informed decision.”
Interests consolidated through the program are immediately restored to tribal trust ownership. Land consolidated through program purchases can unify reservation lands for tribal benefit and use, such as economic development, infrastructure, housing, cultural preservation and rights-of-way.
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.
The program’s website includes detailed Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) available at https://www.doi.gov/buybackprogram/faq. In addition, information to help individuals make informed decisions about their land can be found at https://www.doi.gov/buybackprogram/informeddecisionmaking.
Landowners can contact the Trust Beneficiary Call Center at 888-678-6836 or [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 ownership interest. Landowners can also contact their local Bureau of Trust Funds Administration office with additional questions.