(Washington, D.C.) – The Department of the Interior announced today that more than 10,000 landowners with fractional interests at the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota have been sent more than $36 million in purchase offers from the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations.
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. Interests consolidated through the Program are restored to tribal trust ownership for uses benefiting the reservation community and tribal members.
“The Buy-Back Program is pleased to be partnering with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe through a memorandum of agreement to implement the Program at the Reservation,” said Director John McClanahan. “During our return visit to this location the Program will be collaborating with the Tribe towards our shared goals of promoting informed decision making among landowners and maximizing the consolidation of fractional interests. We look forward to building on the achievements of the initial implementation at Rosebud, which resulted in the consolidation of more than 21,000 equivalent acres with potential surface use, such as farming, and more than 24,000 equivalent acres with subsurface rights.”
To date, the Department has entered into agreements with 49 tribal nations to cooperatively implement the Buy-Back Program. The agreements outline coordinated strategies to facilitate education about the Program to landowners, but are unique in time, scope and responsibilities based on particular circumstances at each location.
As a result of the Buy-Back Program, tribal ownership now exceeds 50 percent in 14,700 more tracts of land (representing an increase of approximately 120 percent for the locations where implementation has occurred), strengthening tribal sovereignty and self-determination. Since the Program began making offers in December 2013, more than 765,000 fractional interests and the equivalent of nearly 2.2 million acres of land has been transferred to tribal governments. To date, the Program has made nearly 250,000 offers to Indian landowners.
Among the Tribes with local connections who are participating in the Buy-Back Program include:
Oklahoma’s Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe Governor Eddie Hamilton said, “The Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes are pleased to announce that we have entered into a Cooperative Agreement with the Department of Interior’s Land Buy-Back Program. The Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes are listed within the top 25 of Tribal nations with the most fractionated interest. The C & A Tribes are at great risk for losing much of our present land base. We feel this program will give us an opportunity to develop our land base, consolidate fractionated interest and strengthen our Tribal sovereignty.”