WASHINGTON – The Department of the Interior announced that more than 1,500 landowners with fractional interests at the Umatilla Reservation in Oregon have been sent nearly $30 million in purchase offers from the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations. Landowners who receive offers have until Sept. 24, 2021, to consider and return accepted offers in the pre-paid postage envelopes provided.
The Buy-Back Program implements the land consolidation component of the Cobell Settlement, which provided $1.9 billion to consolidate fractional interests in trust or restricted land within a 10-year period set to expire in November 2022. As of July 19, 2021, approximately $107 million remains.
The Program has consolidated nearly 8,000 fractional interests and more than 16,000 equivalent acres at the Umatilla Reservation and seeks to build on this prior success. To coordinate outreach efforts, the Program has entered into a memorandum of agreement with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation to guide Program implementation at the Reservation.
“The Buy-Back Program appreciates the continued partnership with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation for another round of implementation at the Reservation,” said Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Bryan Newland. “The Program’s partnership with the Tribes seeks to provide information to help landowners make the decision that is right for them. Before deciding whether to sell, landowners should understand their land, consider financial implications and review all of their options.”
Interests consolidated through the Program are immediately restored to Tribal trust ownership. Land consolidated through Program purchases can unify reservation lands for Tribal benefit and use, such as economic development, infrastructure, housing, cultural preservation and rights-of-way.
Various informational tools are available to landowners, who are encouraged to think strategically about their options and carefully consider how to use the funds they receive from selling their land.
For example, the Program’s website includes detailed Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) available at https://www.doi.gov/buybackprogram/faq. In addition, information to help individuals make informed decisions about their land can be found at https://www.doi.gov/buybackprogram/informeddecisionmaking.
Landowners can contact the Trust Beneficiary Call Center at 888-678-6836 or TBCCmail@btfa.gov with questions about their land and/or purchase offers, or to request a copy of an appraisal report for any appraised tract in which they have an ownership interest. Landowners can also contact their local Bureau of Trust Funds Administration office with additional questions.