WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of the Interior recently announced that the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations mailed approximately $30 million in purchase offers to more than 2,000 landowners with fractional interests at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North and South Dakota. Landowners who received offers have until May 17, 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 March 29, 2021, approximately $131 million remains.
The program has consolidated nearly 116,000 fractional interests and almost 230,000 equivalent acres at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation and seeks to build on this prior success. In order to coordinate outreach efforts, the program entered into a memorandum of agreement with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to guide program implementation at the reservation.
“The Department is pleased to continue land consolidation work through the Buy-Back Program at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation,” stated Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Bryan Newland. “Landowners are encouraged to learn more about their options in order to make informed decisions regarding this unique opportunity.”
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.
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. 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 also contact the Trust Beneficiary Call Center at 888-678-6836 or TBCCmail@btfa.gov with questions about their land or purchase offers, and to request a copy of the appraisal completed for their land.