The U.S. Interior Department today announced it’s offering more than $27 million to landowners on the Fort Belknap Reservation in north-central Montana to consolidate tiny privately owned land shares common on reservations all over the country.
Nearly 3,000 Fort Belknap landowners can participate in the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations. The nearly $2 billion program is part of a 2009 settlement spearheaded by Blackfeet elder Elouise Cobell over federal mismanagement of Indian trust funds.
Lands bought under the program are restored to tribal trust ownership.
This is the second round of land buy-back offers on Fort Belknap. The program previously awarded $60 million to tribal members and placed 200,000 equivalent acres in trust for the Assiniboine and Gros Ventre Tribes.
Fort Belknap Indian Community President Andrew Werk welcomed the program’s return. He says it will benefit the reservation through employment, economic development and providing a solid land base.
Landowners have until May 14 to accept their offers. Participation in the Land Buy-Back Program is optional.