Media Contact: Tozier - Int. 4306 | Information Service
For Immediate Release: July 8, 1959

The Department of the Interior has submitted to Congress a proposal for legislation that would add nearly 350,000 acres to the land holdings of 18 Indian tribes or communities in 9 States, Assistant Secretary Roger Ernst announced today.

All of the lands affected are located within or adjacent to Indian reservations. All were bought by the Federal Government as “sub marginal lands” during the 1930's to retire them from private ownership and correct maladjustments in their use. Nearly all have been used by the Indians for upwards of 20 years. Under present law, however, the full legal and equitable title is in the United States.

The total original cost of these lands to the Government was over $1,600,000. The present-day value, although not definitely known, is undoubtedly many times this figure.

“These sub marginal lands,” Mr. Ernst said, “are needed by the Indians in order to obtain maximum utilization of their tribal lands and in order to augment their other income. If the lands are not turned over to the Indians, proper utilization will not be possible and the loss of the 'use of such lands would seriously affect the economic standards of· many Indians. If the title is transferred to the Indians, further consolidation into acceptable ranch units for grazing purposes will be possible.”

Because some of the sub marginal lands are in the taking areas of the Fort Randall, Oahe and Big Bend Reservoirs on the Missouri River and will continue to be needed for this purpose, the proposed bill exempts these lands, totaling nearly 3,000 acres, from its provisions. The proposal also reserves to .the Government the right to continue using for military purposes about 6,400 acres of sub marginal land embraced within the Ellsworth Air Force Range on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

Under a 1947 law all receipts from mineral leasing of the sub marginal lands have been deposited in a special fund of the U. S. Treasury pending final congressional action. The fund now amounts to $844,928.33. Under the Department's proposal, all monies accumulated in the special fund prior to enactment would be retained by the United States. Future income from mineral leasing, however, would be the property of the respective tribes.

The Department made no specific recommendations whether the lands should be conveyed to the Indian groups in fee simple title or Federal trust status. Either alternative, Mr. Ernst said, would be acceptable to the Department.

The following tabulation shows the sub marginal land projects proposed for transfer, the reservations affected, the acreages involved, and the original cost of the lands.

Project Reservation Acreage Original Cost
Fort Hall, LI-ID-2 Fort Hall, Idaho 8,711 $133,213
L'Anse, LI-MI-8 L'Anse, Mich. 4,016 16,121
Twin Lakes, LI-MN-6 White Earth, Minn. 24,114 156,236
Flat Lake, LI-MN-15 White Earth, Minn. 4,436 19,428
Fort Peck, LI-MT-6 Fort Peck, Mont. 85,338 412,302
Fort Belknap, LI-MT-8 Fort Belknap, Mont. 25,530 89,936
Blackfeet, LI-MT-9 Blackfeet, Mont. 9,037 31,076
Standing Rock, LI-ND-10 Standing Rock, N. Dak. 4,086 21,612 1
Standing Rock, LI-ND-10 Standing Rock, N. Dak. 6,878 24,911
Fort Totten, LI-ND-11 Fort Totten, N. Dak. 1,424 11,869
Delaware, LI-OK-4 Cherokee, Okla. 13,778 49,313
Adair, LI-OK-5 Cherokee, Okla. 4,960 10,934
Burns Colony, LI-OR-5 Burns Colony, Oreg. 760 14,620
Pine Ridge, LI-SD-7 Pine Ridge, S. Dak. 46,213 207,792
Cut meat, LI-SD-8 Rosebud, S. Dak. 10,089 52,803
Antelope, LI-SD-9 Rosebud, S. Dak. 18,642 102,201
Crow Creek, LI-SD-10 Crow Creek, S. Dak. 19,627 81,591 2
Lower Brule, LI-SD-10 Lower Brule, S. Dak. 14,290 56,990 3
Cheyenne Indian, LI-SD-13 Cheyenne River, S. Dak. 5,110 18,202 4
Bad River, LI-WI-8 Bad River, Wis. 13,069 32,093
Lac Court, LI-WI-9 Lac Courte Oreilles, Wis. 13,185 25,598
Stockbridge, LI-WI-11 Stockbridge, Wis. 13,077 69,546

1. Includes 650.09 acres located within the Oahe Dam and Reservoir Project authorized under acts of December 22, 1944 (58 Stat. 887, 891) and September 2, 1958 (72 Stat. 1762).

2. Includes 495 acres located within the Fort Randall Dam and Reservoir project.

3. Includes 294 acres located within the Fort Randall Dam and Reservoir project.

4. Includes 1509 acres located within the Oahe Dam and Reservoir project.