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Fee to Trust Land Acquisitions

Transfer land to be held in trust by the United States on behalf of an individual Indian or a Tribe

Fee to Trust (FTT) land acquisitions, also called “land into trust,” transfer a land title to the United States of America to be held in trust for the benefit of an individual Indian or Tribe.

Taking land into trust is one of the most important functions of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). Acquisition of land in trust is essential to Tribal self-determination. Tribes are sovereign governments and trust lands are a primary focus of Tribal authority.

The current federal policy of Tribal self-determination is built upon the principles Congress set forth in the Indian Reorganization Act and reaffirmed in the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act. Through the protection and restoration of Tribal homelands, the BIA has sought to live up to the standards Congress established eight decades ago and indeed to reinvigorate the policies underlying the Indian Reorganization Act. 

Benefits to Tribes

  • Trust acquisitions provide Tribes the ability to enhance housing opportunities for their citizens. 
  • Trust acquisitions are necessary for Tribes to realize the tremendous energy development capacity that exists on their lands. 
  • Trust acquisitions allow Tribes to grant certain rights-of-way and enter into leases necessary for Tribes to negotiate the use and sale of the natural resources. 
  • Trust lands provide the greatest protections for many communities who rely on subsistence hunting and agriculture that are important elements of Tribal cultures and life ways. 

Though the General Allotment Act was enacted and then repudiated long ago, Tribes continue to feel the devastating effects of the policy that divided Tribal lands, allotted parcels to individual Tribal members and provided for the public sale of any surplus Tribal lands remaining after allotment. Taking land into trust can address those negative effects.

How to Apply for a Fee to Trust Land Acquisition

Applications should be submitted in writing at the Regional BIA office with jurisdiction over the land to be placed in trust.

For information on what to include in your Fee to Trust application, please review the Fee to Trust Handbook or contact the BIA Division of Real Estate Services.

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