Hoeven: MHA Nation, Standing Rock and Spirit Lake Eligible for Cobell Land Buy-Back Program

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, today announced that the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, Standing Rock and Spirit Lake tribes are eligible for the Cobell Land Buy-Back Program following the Department of the Interior’s competitive review of the program. The program makes funding available from the Cobell settlement for tribes to consolidate fractional land ownership, helping ensure the lands stay in tribal trust and are open to beneficial use. As chairman, Hoeven pressed the Interior Department to implement the program in a timely fashion, including for tribes in North Dakota, as the remaining funds of $540 million, as reported by the department, are only available through November 2022.

“Over several generations, the ownership of millions of acres of tribal lands has become split among heirs,” said Hoeven. “This severely complicates the tribes’ efforts to develop their local economies and undermines the effective management of royalties paid to tribal members. Access to this funding is limited, and we worked hard to ensure tribes in our state were eligible. By empowering the tribes to buy-back these fractioned land interests, this program will support stronger economies and greater self-sufficiency for Indian Country.” 

Currently, allotments across Indian Country are under the undivided interests of several generations of heirs to the original owner. As a result, allotments are controlled by dozens of interests, causing permitting issues, forcing land to remain idle and reducing returns to owners and the tribes. The Buy-Back Program allows for the purchase of these interests from willing sellers at fair market value.