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Buy-Back Program partners with Fort Belknap Indian Community

 


From U.S. Department of Interior

WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior announced today that nearly 3,000 landowners with fractional interests at the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in Montana have been sent more than $27 million in purchase offers from the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations. 

“As President of the Fort Belknap Indian Community, I am pleased to announce the return of the Buy-Back Program to our Reservation and the continuing efforts of consolidating trust land for Indian reservations,” said Fort Belknap Indian Community President Andrew Werk Jr. “This Program is a benefit to our tribal people and will ensure a homeland for them well into the future.”

“Hard work and dedication have once again brought opportunity to the people of Fort Belknap through the Land Buy-Back Program. This Program provides a win-win situation for landowners and the Tribe here,” added Curtis Horn, Fort Belknap Indian Community tribal council member. “Efforts of the Land Buy-Back team will benefit our reservation through employment and economic development, and will provide a solid land base for generations to come.”

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. To date, approximately $339 million remain. Consolidated interests are immediately restored to tribal trust ownership.

This is the program’s second round of implementation at the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation.  During the initial implementation, the Program consolidated more than 25,000 fractional interests, placing over 200,000 equivalent acres in trust for the Tribe. 

As with the prior round of implementation, the Program has entered into a cooperative agreement with the Fort Belknap Indian Community to guide implementation at the Reservation. To date, the Department has entered into agreements with 51 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 based on particular circumstances at each location.

“The Buy-Back Program is pleased to be partnering again with the Fort Belknap Indian Community for another round of implementation at the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation,” said Program Director John McClanahan.

“Through our cooperative agreement we seek to promote awareness of this unique opportunity and ensure that landowners have the information they need to make an informed decision regarding their fractional land interests. The Program appreciates the Tribe’s involvement and commitment to consolidating land to enable more effective land management and increased opportunities for the Community.”

Returning fractionated lands to tribes in trust has the potential to improve tribal community resources by increasing home site locations, improving transportation routes, spurring economic development, easing approval for infrastructure and community projects, and preserving traditional cultural or ceremonial sites.

Landowners with fractional interests at the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation have until May 14 to consider and return accepted offers in the pre-paid postage envelopes provided.

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 and additional information to help individuals make informed decisions about their land.

Landowners also can contact the Trust Beneficiary Call Center at 888-678-6836 or visit their local Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians to ask questions about their land or purchase offers and request a copy of the appraisal completed for their land.

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Online: Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations site: https://www.doi.gov/buybackprogram/.

 

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