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Ted Hall is running the second installment of the Cobell Settlement Buy Back Program in Blackfeet  Country. Last week trainers arrived to help Hall’s new staff in conducting outreach activities to members who may qualify to sell their fractionated land interests.

Folks likely recall several years ago when fractionated landowners were offered a chance to sell their land through the Cobell Settlement Land Buy-Back Program. At the start of the program, there were approximately 150 reservations with 2.9 million purchasable fractional interests owned by approximately 243,000 individuals.

The Cobell Settlement provided the Department $1.9 billion to purchase fractional interests in trust or restricted fee land from willing sellers at fair market value within a 10-year period, which ends in November 2022. Individuals who choose to sell their interests receive payments directly into their Individual Indian Money (IIM) accounts.  Consolidated interests are then immediately restored to tribal trust ownership for uses benefiting the reservation community and tribal members.

In July 2017, the Program announced an implementation schedule that included 20 locations – eight new locations and 12 return locations.  The schedule was revised based on a number of factors including severity of fractionation; appraisal complexity; degree of ownership overlap between locations or geographic proximity; tribal readiness; past response rate; and cost and efficiency (including land value).

The Blackfeet Reservation is one of the 12 return locations, and a schedule of outreach activities has been generated to reach landowners who may not have taken advantage of the program before. 

The Claims Resolution Act of 2010 provided for a $1.9 billion Trust Land Consolidation Fund. After implementation costs and the establishment of the Cobell Education Scholarship Fund, a minimum of $1.555 billion was available to pay individual owners fair market value for the fractional interests they voluntarily decide to sell. As of Sept. 16, 2019, there was approximately $274 million of the $1.9 billion remaining.

Last week, trainers from the Office of the Special Trustee arrived to conduct sessions at Glacier Peaks Casino’s conference room. Ted Hall, who is organizing the outreach under Mark Magee of the Blackfeet  Land Department, says he has six outreach specialists who will be handling the effort, and that prospective sellers may see offers coming their way by late fall. Once a person has received an offer, they have 60 days to accept it by having the document notarized, and then the landowner must return the form themselves by mail.

The U.S. Department of Interior has supplied some “Things to Note” about the program, including “participation is voluntary.” Other points say, “All sellers receive fair market value, plus a $75 base payment per offer. Landowners have 60 days to accept/return purchase offers. Payments are deposited into the seller’s IIM account. Not all landowners will receive an offer. Call the Trust Beneficiary Call Center at 1-888-678-6836 with questions, to update your address or to register as an interested seller.”

In addition, folks can call 338-4335 or 338-5435 locally to access the Buy-Back Office.

The schedule of outreach events follows.

Browning Out Reach

September 25

1 - 3 p.m.

Casino Picnic

90 Museum Loop

Great Falls Out Reach

September 26

11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Little Shell Tribe Center

615 Central Ave. W.

Billings Out Reach

October 4th, 5th

10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Red Lion Inn

5500 Midland Rd

406-248-7701

Browning Out Reach

October 9

9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Glacier Peaks Hotel/Casino

50 Museum Loop

406-338-2400 - 

Jennifer Kipp/

contact person

Babb Out Reach

October 10

10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Babb Gym

4150 US-89

406-732-5539 - 

Billie Jo Juneau - 

Principal contact person

East Glacier Out Reach

October 11

10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

East Glacier Library

416 US-2

406-226-4443 - 

Berta Rink/contact person

Seville/Cut Bank 

Out Reach

October 16

10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Old Casino Bldg

One Tree Lane

406-338-2111 Manpower/contact

(Blackfeet Transit 

will provide rides)

Spokane Out Reach

October 15

10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Food Bank Center

610 East North Foothill Dr.

Marsha Matte/

contact person

Browning Out Reach

October 16th

Glacier Peaks Hotel/Casino

10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

50 Museum Loop

406-338-2400 

Jennifer Kipp/

contact person

Seattle Out Reach

October 25th, 26th

10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

InterUrban Hotel

223 Andover Park E.

Tukwila, WA

Jerold Gidner

Visit/Outreach

November 18

OST- Deputy Special Trustee

Washington, DC

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