WASHINGTON – The Obama administration says Native American tribes don't have to reimburse the government for buying divided-up tribal land so it can be returned to them.
The Department of the Interior is helping tribes reunite land that has been divided among multiple owners over many generations. A $3.4 billion lawsuit settlement over federal mismanagement of Indian land royalties includes $1.9 billion for the land purchases.
The land dividing is known as fractionation and began in 1887 when the federal government split reservation land among individual tribe members. Over generations, titles to the land were divided among heirs, creating multiple owners.
The agency says property acquired for tribes under the settlement won't be subject to liens by the federal government.