The Norman Transcript

Headlines

December 19, 2012

Government rolls out $1.9B land buyback program

HELENA, Mont. — U.S. government officials said Tuesday they are launching a $1.9 billion Native American land buyback program now that a nearly 17-year lawsuit over more than a century’s worth of mismanaged trust royalties is settled.

The 10-year, $1.9 billion buyback program is the largest part of the $3.4 billion settlement of a class-action lawsuit filed by Elouise Cobell of Browning, Mont., in 1996 and finalized last month.

Officials with the Interior Department and Bureau of Indian Affairs laid out the program’s initial framework in a Tuesday news conference in Washington, D.C. The program aims to purchase individual allotments from willing American Indians and turn over the consolidated parcels to tribes.

Program manager John McClanahan said it could take up to a year before the first land sales are completed, but the goal is to spend most of the money before President Barack Obama’s second term is up in 2017.

Land fractionation was caused by the 1887 Dawes Act, which split tribal lands into individual allotments of 80- to 160-acre parcels, in most cases. Those allotments were inherited by multiple heirs with each passing generation, and there are now more than 92,000 land tracts with 2.9 million fractional interests.

Of that number, more than 21,200 land tracts have 100 or more owners and many parcels have thousands of owners, according to the Interior Department.

Using or leasing those tracts requires approval of all the owners, so often they sit without being developed.

“The scope of this problem in Indian Country is amazing,” said Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes. “The buyback program provides the opportunity to unlock the benefits of those lands for the tribes and their members.”

McClanahan said 150 reservations are affected by this fractionation, but most are in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains. Ninety percent of the fractionated lands available to purchase are in 40 locations, but McClanahan said the program will explore land sales beyond those locations.

For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Headlines
  • Body 1 Police identify woman found dead Monday

    Norman police have identified a woman found dead in her home at 2202 Donna Drive Monday afternoon. Police responded at 1:25 p.m. to the residence of Cassandra Thompson, 30, after receiving a report that she had not shown up for work ...

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Residents speak out about document regarding shelter photos

    Norman and metro-area residents showed up in overwhelming numbers, many in red shirts, for an Animal Shelter Oversight Board meeting Monday night demanding for their opinions to be heard....

    July 29, 2014

  • Mixon’s attorney says athlete acted in self-defense

    The attorney for Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon says the incident that left a 20-year-old female OU student with multiple facial fractures was a case of self-defense. “This past Friday morning, Joe Mixon found himself in a situation ...

    July 29, 2014

  • Police rule out homicide in Norman woman’s death

    Norman Police Capt. Todd Gibson said Tuesday they have eliminated the theory of homicide after a Norman woman was found dead in her home Monday afternoon. “We’re moving in a different direction with the investigation,” Gibson said. “It’s ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Moore resident lands in new home 14 months after tornado

    Moore — She crawled from the rubble of what used to be her home. The neighborhood was destroyed. It was the afternoon of May 20, 2013, and Jamie Baker was homeless....

    July 30, 2014

  • Additional details come to light in Campus Corner incident involving Sooner recruit

    The 911 call from Pickleman’s Gourmet Cafe early Friday morning brought forth more details from the incident that has Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon under investigation for an alleged assault....

    July 30, 2014

  • Senate approves new VA secretary

    WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday unanimously confirmed former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald as the new Veterans Affairs secretary, with a mission to overhaul an agency beleaguered by long veterans’ waits for health care and VA ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Tampering accusations surface in OKC bombing case

    SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah lawyer suing the FBI over his public records request for surveillance videos from the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing said Tuesday that one of his witnesses backed out after being visited by government officials last ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Shelter construction ongoing; residents voice concerns

    A regular quarterly meeting of the Animal Shelter Oversight Board prompted Norman residents to speak up about more than just a photo release issue Monday night involving Friends of the Animals of Norman volunteers and the city of Norman. ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Senate passes highway bill, sends it to House

    WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday voted to change the funding and timing of a House bill to keep federal highway funds flowing to states in an effort to force Congress to come to grips with chronic funding problems that have plagued ...

    July 30, 2014