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
  • Junior Police Graduation First Junior Police Academy graduates

    The room went dark and a slideshow flipped through photos of children participating in the first Junior Police Academy as kids chattered excitedly, remembering what they had done over the past two weeks. Norman Police Department hosted ...

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Officials say transparency lacking in Wal-Mart zoning

    Norman city staff recently admitted to withholding information from the public regarding a controversial zoning change in southeast Norman. If approved by the city council, the proposal will allow a Wal-Mart supercenter at Cedar Lane and ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Air Algerie jet crashes with 116 on board

    OUAGADOUGO, Burkina Faso — An Air Algerie jetliner carrying 116 people crashed Thursday in a rainstorm over restive Mali, and its wreckage was found near the border of neighboring Burkina Faso — the third major international aviation ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Nonprofit raises $3.9M-plus for new center

    The Center for Children and Families, a United Way of Norman partner agency, announced Thursday that it exceeded its public fundraising goal of $3.5 million and raised more than $3.9 million to complete the purchase and renovation of a ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Very bad week: Airline disasters come in a cluster

    WASHINGTON — Nearly 300 passengers perish when their plane is shot out of the sky. Airlines suspend flights to Israel’s largest airport after rocket attacks. Two airliners crash during storms. Aviation has suffered one of its worst weeks ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Police log

    Police responded to the following incidents Wednesday: · 5:58 a.m. indecent exposure, 100 block of West Comanche Street · 6:08 a.m. burglary in progress, 100 block of West Hayes Street · 8:09 a.m. larceny report, 100 ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Felonies filed

    The following people were charged with felony counts in the Cleveland County Court Clerk’s Office: · Angela Beth Mendinghall, 36, unauthorized use of a vehicle; driving with a canceled, suspended or revoked license · Daniel ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Immigrant children being placed with sponsors

    OKLAHOMA CITY — The federal government says more than 200 unaccompanied children in Oklahoma have been placed with sponsors so far this year. The federal government released a state-by-state breakdown Thursday of the numbers of ...

    July 25, 2014

  • OCU prepares to move law library downtown

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma City University’s School of Law is moving its library into a historic building in downtown Oklahoma City....

    July 25, 2014

  • Grad to serve as delegate at camp

    William Long, 2014 Norman North High School graduate, recently represented Oklahoma as a delegate at the 2014 National Youth Science Camp. Long joined 100 other top high school graduates representing the United States and eight other ...

    July 25, 2014