The Norman Transcript

State/Region

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
State/Region
  • Health officials prepare for flu

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Following a flu season in which a record number of Oklahomans died as a result of the virus, state and county health officials say educating the public and general common sense are vital to reducing both the death rate and ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Scam targets migrants

    HOUSTON — Scammers have been preying on the relatives of unaccompanied young migrants being held at two U.S. military bases by conning them into paying nonexistent fees to be reunited with their loved ones, officials said....

    July 27, 2014

  • Trial delayed for man in murder case

    DUNCAN — The first-degree murder trial of a Velma man charged with killing a 16-year-old girl has been delayed until January....

    July 27, 2014

  • Man seeks video of 1995 Oklahoma City bombing

    OKLAHOMA CITY — One man’s quest to explain his brother’s mysterious jail cell death 19 years ago has rekindled long-dormant questions about whether others were involved in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. What some consider a far-flung ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Man found dead outside Tulsa home

    TULSA — Police in Tulsa are investigating the death of a man whose body was found outside a house on the city’s north side....

    July 27, 2014

  • McCain: Arizona execution ‘torture’

    TUCSON, Ariz. — U.S. Sen. John McCain says the execution of an Arizona inmate that lasted two hours was torture....

    July 26, 2014

  • Okla. food pantries struggle to meet demand

    TULSA — Food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters across Oklahoma are scrambling to meet demand for food from, among other groups, kids left in the lurch because they can’t get the free and discounted meals offered when schools are in ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Rogers County clerk sues paper over stories

    CLAREMORE — The Rogers County clerk has sued the Claremore Daily Progress and its government reporter over claims the newspaper painted her in a false light and invaded her privacy. Clerk Robin Anderson filed a lawsuit Thursday against ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Okla. high court says lawmaker can serve as DA

    OKLAHOMA CITY — A Republican House member from Jenks is eligible to become Tulsa County’s district attorney, even though a raise for prosecutors was approved during his term in the Legislature, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Friday....

    July 26, 2014

  • Fallin wants probe to include botched executions

    OKLAHOMA CITY — A spokesman for Gov. Mary Fallin says the governor wants investigators looking into Oklahoma’s recent flawed execution to consider problems that have popped up in other states such as Ohio and Arizona....

    July 26, 2014