U.S. SENATE —U.S. Senator Steve Daines today highlighted the importance of reducing divided land ownership on Indian reservations.
During a hearing in the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Daines questioned two Montana tribal leaders testifying at the hearing, Chairman Floyd Azure of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes and Vice Chairman Terry Tatsey of the Blackfeet Tribe, on the value of the U.S. Department of the Interior Land Buy-Back Program to their communities and how they would want to see the program improved.
“Montana is home to Indian reservations with some of the most divided ownership in the nation and the Land Buy-Back Program has benefitted nearly all of them,” Daines stated. “Consolidating interests in Indian trust lands is crucial to economic prosperity in Native communities and eradicating outdated remnants of the allotment era.”
Click here to watch Daines’ remarks.
The principal goal of the Buy-Back Program is to reduce the number of fractional land interests through voluntary sales that place purchased interests into trust for tribes. These transfers consolidate trust land bases for conservation, stewardship, economic development, or other uses deemed beneficial by sovereign tribal nations.
In Montana, the program has been implemented on the Crow, Fort Belknap, Flathead Fort Peck, and Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservations. The program has begun to be implemented on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.
Earlier this month, Interior released the 2016 Status Report for the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations, which highlights the steps taken to date to strengthen tribal sovereignty, consolidate fractional interests, and provide new opportunities to Native American communities.