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Interior Deputy Secretary testifies on Land Buy-Back Program



WASHINGTON –– U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Interior Department Michael L. Connor testified today at a full committee hearing in front of the Senate Committee for Indian Affairs on the Interior Department’s role and progress in the implementation of the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations (Buy-Back Program).

The Buy-Back Program implements the land consolidation component of the Cobell settlement, which provided $1.9 billion to purchase fractional interests in trust from willing sellers at fair market value. Interests consolidated through the Program are restored to tribal trust ownership for uses benefiting the reservation community and tribal members.

Since the Program began making offers in December 2013, more than $925 million has been paid to individual landowners and the equivalent of nearly 1.7 million acres of land has been transferred to tribal governments.

Approximately 243,000 owners of nearly 3 million fractional interests spanning 150 locations across Indian Country are eligible to participate in the Buy-Back Program. Many of these owners see little or no economic benefit from what are often very small, undivided interests in lands that cannot be utilized due to their highly fractionated state.

The Department recently released the Program’s annual Status Report, which highlights the steps taken to date to strengthen tribal sovereignty, consolidate fractional interests, and provide new opportunities to Native American communities.

Deputy Secretary Connor’s testimony is available at: www.doi.gov//sites/do i.gov/files/uploads/dep_ sec_ testimony_ before_ scia_ 2016.pdf

More information is available at: www.doi.gov/buybackprogram



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