My father passed away and I received a notice that I own his land. I would like to build on this land. What do I need to do?

When your father’s land was originally allotted, it was put into “trust” by the federal government. This gave the Indian landowner the right to live on the land and use it. However, ownership was still with the federal government and the allottee owned “interest” in the allotment. At the passing of this first generation allottee, the interest in the land was divided among the surviving heirs with each individual attaining a percentage of interest in the allotment. This process, called fractionation, would have continued with each passing generation until your father received his “undivided interest” in the allotment. Depending on individual circumstances, there could be several generations prior to your notice of ownership. In some instances there are well over 1,000 individuals who share “interest” in one common allotment. In order for you to do anything personally with this land, you will need to work with the local BIA office and the other allotment owners. If you want to develop the land or do almost anything with it, 51 percent of the undivided interest holders would have to be in agreement.

Your first step is to write to the local BIA office and request information on your undivided interest in this allotment. You will need to prove that you are the landowner, so include all identifying information. Another option would be to call the Office of Special Trustee Call Center at 888-678-6836 and request assistance in identifying the specifics to your ownership interest in the allotment.