News & Announcements
Read the latest news, announcements and events, such as the Tribal Land Staff National Conference, CLE opportunities, land issues, and items in the press about activities of the Indian Land Tenure Foundation and our grantees and affiliates.
Elk River Law Office to host AIPRA seminar July 24-26 in Billings
July 6, 2018
The Elk River Law Office, which has more than 28 years of combined experience in federal Indian law, will be hosting a three-day training session on the American Indian Probate Reform Act (AIPRA) July 24-26, 2018 in Billings, Montana. Training will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. The topics to be covered include:
- History of Indian title and ownership
- Legislative efforts to address fractionation
- Why AIPRA was enacted
- Inheritance rules for trust land ownership
- Specific AIPRA terms
- Single heir rule
- Impacts of AIPRA on LTRO
- Land record keeping before and after AIPRA
- Will drafting issues
- Impact of AIPRA on other trust transactions and practices
Majel M. Russell Esq., Elk River Law Office PLLP – Majel Russell was raised on the Crow Indian Reservation and is an enrolled member of the Crow Tribe. Ms. Russell graduated from the University of Montana School of Law in 1992 and is a founding partner in the law firm. She practices primarily federal Indian law representing tribes and tribal entities and litigates matters involving tribal jurisdiction, authorities, Indian businesses, school districts and civil litigation in Federal, State and Tribal Courts. Ms. Russell has also served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C. where she gained experience working with federal budget priorities, policies and regulations developing strategies for overcoming bureaucratic obstacles.
Clark Madison, former Regional Realty Officer, DOI, BIA – Clark Madison is an enrolled member of the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribe(s) of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation and a graduate of Montana State University-Billings. Mr. Madison, now retired from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, was the Regional Realty Officer in the Rocky Mountain Region for the last 19 years of his career. Mr. Madison was a member of the national American Indian Probate Reform Act (AIPRA) team that provided training to regional BIA staff, Land Titles and Records Offices, and BIA agency staff regarding AIPRA. Mr. Madison also participated in developing regulations for Title 25 of the Code of Federal Regulations, including surface leasing, conveyances, easements and land records. Mr. Madison has vast experience dealing with trust land transactions and a unique insight into the impact AIPRA has had on regulatory procedures.
Course registration fee is $800. For more information, please contact Stephanie Harris at Elk River Law Office by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or telephone (406-259-8611).
Landowners with Fractional Interests at Umatilla Receive Buy-Back Program Offers
Interested sellers have until August 14, 2018 to respond
June 19, 2018
WASHINGTON – The Department of the Interior announced today that more than 2,000 landowners with fractional interests at the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon have been sent purchase offers from the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations.
The Buy-Back Program implements the land consolidation component of the Cobell Settlement, which provided $1.9 billion to consolidate fractional interests in trust or restricted land within a 10-year period set to expire in November 2022.
As a result of the Buy-Back Program, tribal ownership now exceeds 50 percent in more than 27,000 tracts of land (representing an increase of approximately 120 percent for the locations where implementation has occurred), strengthening tribal sovereignty and self-determination. Since the Program began making offers in December 2013, more than 762,000 fractional interests and the equivalent of nearly 2.2 million acres of land has been transferred to tribal governments. To date, the Program has made nearly 240,000 offers to Indian landowners.
“The Buy-Back Program provides a range of benefits – to landowners, to tribal nations, and to local communities,” said Program Director John McClanahan. “Landowners receive fair market value payments for voluntarily transferring their interests, which are immediately held in trust for the Tribe, preventing further fractionation. In addition, the strong communication and cooperation among various Interior and Umatilla Tribal staff has produced greater opportunities and new resources for landowners. Their efforts to share appraisal information for possible co-owner purchases represent a positive step toward leveraging the Program’s funding to achieve the Settlement’s goal of consolidating fractionated land.”
“The Umatilla Tribe is pleased to be working again with the Buy-Back Program to achieve our mutual goals,” said Bill Tovey, the Umatilla Tribes’ Director of Economic and Community Development. “In anticipation of the Buy-Back Program’s implementation and appraisals, the Umatilla Tribe has partnered with the Indian Land Capital Company (ILCC) to make available loans funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to individual Umatilla members who want to obtain a controlling interest within their allotments for farming or ranching operations. The collaborative efforts involving the Umatilla Tribe, ILCC, and the Buy-Back Program demonstrate a multi-pronged approach to addressing fractionation at Umatilla.”
Landowners with fractional interests at the Umatilla Indian Reservation have until August 14, 2018, to consider and return accepted offers in the pre-paid postage envelopes provided.
Various informational tools are available to landowners, who are encouraged to think strategically about their options and carefully consider how to use the funds they receive from selling their land. Detailed frequently asked questions are available at https://www.doi.gov/buybackprogram/FAQ and additional information to help individuals make informed decisions about their land can be accessed at https://www.doi.gov/buybackprogram/landowners/informeddecisionmaking
Landowners also can contact the Trust Beneficiary Call Center at 888-678-6836 or visit their local Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians to ask questions about their land or purchase offers, request a copy of the appraisal completed for their land, and learn about financial planning.
Bush Foundation Grant Supports Organizations Helping Native Nations Recover Land
August 1, 2017
The Indian Land Tenure Foundation (ILTF) is a national, community-based organization that works with American Indian tribes and organizations that support Native nations and people in the recovery of their rightful homelands. Thanks to a $200,000 Ecosystem grant from the Bush Foundation, ILTF will be able to financially support several American Indian start-up organizations that are helping to return Indian lands to Indian hands.
The Bush Foundation provides Ecosystem grants to help sustain organizations such as ILTF that create unique and significant value by providing critical data and analysis, spreading great ideas and building capacity, advancing public awareness and policy, and building and supporting leadership networks. Established in 1953 by 3M executive Archibald Bush and his wife Edyth, the Foundation invests in great ideas and the people who power them. Inspired by the Bushes’ desire to build their community and encourage innovation, the Foundation has invested nearly one billion dollars in grants to thousands of organizations and individuals.
“ILTF is helping tribes rebuild and strengthen their land base so that full ownership and control of Indian land returns to, and remains in, Indian hands,” said ILTF President Cris Stainbrook. “This grant will allow us to help many small, regional organizations that are doing good work toward this goal.”
Through a variety of innovative programs and initiatives, ILTF works to promote education, increase cultural awareness, create economic opportunity, and reform the legal and administrative systems that prevent Indian people from owning and controlling reservation lands. As a community foundation, ILTF accepts contributions from foundations, tribes, corporations, organizations and individuals to support its grant making and program initiatives. Since its inception in 2002, ILTF has provided more than $40 million in grants, loans and program services throughout the nation in support of Indian land recovery and management efforts. ILTF has a variety of innovative programs and grants, including:
- Estate Planning – Providing education and estate planning services for tribal members as a way to stop the continued division of Indian land titles, and to ensure that Indian lands are controlled and managed by Indian people.
- National Tribal Land Association (NTLA) – Professional association for tribal land and natural resources staff to learn, share and network with their colleagues from other tribes. (ntla.info)
- The Tanka Fund – National campaign to bring renewed health and opportunity to American Indian communities through buffalo restoration, promoting healthy lands, healthy people and healthy economies. (tankafund.org)
- Spirit of Sovereignty – A National Indian Gaming Association-advised fund at ILTF that makes the opportunity for higher education a reality for Native American students by providing scholarships to attend tribal college. (spiritofsov.org)
- Lessons of Our Land – Pre-K through grade 12 curriculum that enables teachers to easily incorporate Native American stories, lessons and games about land, cultures, histories and languages into regular classroom instruction. (lessonsofourland.org)
“The Bush Foundation has been a great supporter of helping Native nations implement positive change,” Stainbrook said. “They understand the importance of nurturing start-up organizations that can make a significant difference in Indian Country, and we are pleased to help them do that. It is also gratifying to be recognized by the Indian community as a trusted source of information and assistance. ”
About the Bush Foundation – Established in 1953 by 3M executive Archibald Bush and his wife Edyth, the Bush Foundation invests in great ideas and the people who power them. Inspired by the Bushes’ desire to build their community and encourage innovation, the Foundation has invested nearly one billion dollars in grants to thousands of organizations and individuals. (bushfoundation.org)
NoVo Foundation Grant Supports American Indian Land Recovery and Management
July 12, 2017
Land has never been more important for American Indian people as they pursue economic development, financial independence, and the preservation of their culture and history, and the Indian Land Tenure Foundation (ILTF) is committed to serving Native nations and their citizens in the recovery and control of their rightful homelands. Thanks to a $1.5 million operating grant from the NoVo Foundation, ILTF will be able to continue its innovative programs and initiatives that are helping return Indian lands to Indian hands.
“The Foundation’s goal is a large one, and it’s going to take a very long time to accomplish,” said ILTF President Cris Stainbrook. “This grant from the NoVo Foundation will enable us to provide more support and services to Native nations and individual Indian landowners as we work toward that end.”
The NoVo Foundation is dedicated to building a more just and balanced world. Founded in 2006 by Jennifer and Peter Buffett, NoVo has become one of the largest private foundations in the world to support Indigenous communities and organizations in North America as they determine their own priorities for the future.
ILTF is a national, community-based organization that works to promote education, increase cultural awareness, create economic opportunity, and reform the legal and administrative systems that prevent Indian people from owning and controlling reservation lands. As a community foundation, ILTF accepts contributions from foundations, tribes, corporations, organizations and individuals to support its grant making and program initiatives.
Since its inception in 2002, ILTF has provided more than $40 million in grants, loans and program services in support of Indian land recovery and management. The Foundation makes a positive impact on the lives of Native Americans through a variety of innovative programs and grants, including:
- Estate Planning – Providing education and estate planning services for tribal members as a way to stop the continued division of Indian land titles, and to ensure that Indian lands are controlled and managed by Indian people.
- National Tribal Land Association (NTLA) – Professional association for tribal land and natural resources staff to learn, share and network with their colleagues from other tribes.
- The Tanka Fund – National campaign to bring renewed health and opportunity to American Indian communities through buffalo restoration, promoting healthy lands, healthy people and healthy economies.
- Spirit of Sovereignty – A National Indian Gaming Association-advised fund at ILTF that makes the opportunity for higher education a reality for Native American students by providing scholarships to attend tribal college.
- Lessons of Our Land – Pre-K through grade 12 curriculum that enables teachers to easily incorporate Native American stories, lessons and games about land, cultures, histories and languages into regular classroom instruction.
“Despite the many challenges, Indian nations are gradually regaining control over their homelands. ILTF’s role is to provide the tools and resources to help them do that,” Stainbrook said. “We are making an impact in Indian Country thanks to the support of foundations like NoVo, and the many individuals who believe in our mission.”
About the NoVo Foundation – The NoVo Foundation is dedicated to building a more just and balanced world. Founded in 2006 by Jennifer and Peter Buffett, NoVo supports Indigenous communities and organizations in North America as they determine their own priorities for the future; works to end violence and discrimination against girls and women; advances social and emotional learning in schools; and promotes healthy and sustainable communities. (novofoundation.org)
Indian Land Recovery Celebration
April 23, 2015
In a special ceremony held at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul, the Indian Land Tenure Foundation was pleased to honor the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota tribes whose efforts resulted in saving and protecting the Pe’ Sla sacred site located in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Watch a slideshow of the celebration.
Learn more about Pe’ Sla.
BIA Tribal Leaders Directory Map
July 7, 2016
Developed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) as an interactive reference tool for its employees, the Tribal Leaders Directory map is now widely used by government, news media, business, researchers, and the public as a resource to help guide communication in Indian Country.
On Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the Indian Land Tenure Foundation as one of its 2015 Conservation Innovation Grant award recipients. The grant will utilize its National Indian Carbon Coalition (NICC) program to develop environmental markets in Indian Country involving rangeland management and several different Native nations. Learn more about the project on the NICC website at indiancarbon.org.
Free Land Management and Economic Development Training in August 2015
July 29, 2015
Indian Land Tenure Foundation will be offering more free landowner training in August. We are hosting several upcoming free training sessions for Native American landowners and agricultural producers in South Dakota, Nebraska and Wisconsin. The training is free to anyone who would like to attend and includes lunch and refreshments. For more information, please contact Jim Wabindato (email@example.com or 651-766-8999) at ILTF.
2017 Tribal Land Staff National Conference Record Breaking Year
The 7th Tribal Land Staff National Conference was held at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa, Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico March 21-23, 2017. It was a record-breaking year with 344 attendees, representing 91 federally recognized tribes. Participants were able to learn, share and network with other tribal land staff professionals during conference sessions, and networking breaks.
This year’s theme focused on advancing sovereignty and self-determination through tribal land management. Attendees had the opportunity to choose from numerous sessions, including topics focusing on Land and Reality Offices, Cultural and Environmental, and Advancing Sovereignty and Self-Determination. Materials from the conference are available to tribal land professionals on the Indian Land Forum Website.
Learn more about the 2017 Tribal Land Staff National Conference at ntla.info/
The 8th Tribal Land Staff National Conference will be held in 2018 in Tulsa, Okla. Learn more about this event at ntla.info/events.
CLE: Continuing Legal Education Course on the Black Hills Settlement
July 22, 2016
The Indian Land Tenure Foundation announces a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) course on the Black Hills settlement. This two-hour session will be hosted at the Comfort Suites Hotel and Convention Center in Rapid City, South Dakota on Friday, July 22, 2016. The session starts with coffee and light refreshments at 9:00 a.m., program at 10:00 a.m., and will conclude at noon.
The course will cover the Black Hills Claim (Docket 148-78) and the 1851 Treaty Title Claim (Docket 74).
For attorneys seeking credit for this course, a registration fee of $200 is required. For the non-legal public interested in learning more about the settlement, we request a nominal contribution of $30 to help cover costs of offering the course. Current law students and the Governor of South Dakota may register for the program free-of-charge.
ILTF in the News
How to make millions while saving a forest
From Outside Magazine – May 7, 2018
By Jake Bullinger
The Sealaska Corporation is a for-profit company collectively owned by some 23,000 Native Alaskans from the Haida, Tlingit, and Tsimshian tribes. Since its creation in the 1970s, the company has made much of its money by logging in Alaska’s southeast islands. But beginning this year, that equation will flip: Sealaska stands to earn millions by leaving trees alone. In March, Sealaska received approval to participate in California’s cap-and-trade marketplace. That means the corporation will preserve 165,000 acres—45 percent of the forestland it controls—for 110 years to serve as a carbon sequestration bank. In return, Sealaska can sell carbon-offset credits to California companies that must curb their emissions under state law.
For now, investing in the carbon-offset market has been restricted to privately held land, which is why tribes and Native corporations like Sealaska have become such big players: They control a lot of forestland. In all, at least nine Native groups, from the Nez Perce in Idaho to the White Mountain Apache in Arizona, have invested in forest-based carbon-offset projects. Conservationists are keeping an eye on their success, because, if done right, it could also revolutionize the way companies profit on public land leases.
“We believe that it fits perfectly with our balanced land-management approach,” says Sealaska CEO Anthony Mallott. “We keep every acre with the foremost thought of best use in a community, cultural, and financial framework. Carbon was the perfect opportunity.”
California’s cap-and-trade program, which kicked off in 2013, promises to cut emissions in the state 40 percent by 2030. It will achieve this, in part, by setting pollution limits for certain industries and by requiring those that exceed the limits to invest in programs that offset their pollution, like carbon-trapping forests. Sealaska’s carbon-offsetting investment is expected to offset 11 million metric tons of carbon—the amount that 2.36 million cars emit in a year. With current offset prices at about $12 per ton, the credits could generate more than $100 million in revenue. No commercial logging will take place there, but that’s not to say the forest will remain untouched. Mallott says Sealaska can still develop its subsurface rights and tourism projects—think trails or lodges—and tribal members will be allowed to cut trees for totems, canoe construction, and other cultural uses.
“It’s another revenue stream that tribes are able to develop within their current conservation practices,” says Bryan Van Stippen, whose Minnesota-based National Indian Carbon Coalition advises tribes seeking to join carbon markets. “To me, it’s a win-win for everybody.”
It’s fitting that tribes and Native corporations are readily considering offsets. It wasn’t until the 1970s when most tribes were granted control of their forestland, and ever since they have been heralded for their resilient forestry practices. Some tribes sign on to these carbon-offset programs to preserve cultural resources, while others might do so purely to monetize land that’s less ideal for timber harvest—in fact, most tribes in the carbon market have maintained their logging operations, and instead of clear-cutting forests, they selectively harvest trees. For example, tribes could wait 60 years instead of 45 to cut second-growth trees, allowing more carbon to be stored before a tree is cut.
“Commercial logging operations are still able to operate with sustainable management practices,” says Van Stippen, adding that Sealaska and the other tribes around the country that are investing in carbon offsets are “maybe changing a few of their practices but are not putting a hindrance on their commercial operation.”
This system, so far, has been kept to privately owned forests. But the idea of leasing publicly owned land for carbon banks is gaining attention from researchers. Under the current system, forestland leaseholders turn a profit by cutting and selling trees. But what if companies could bid on leases with the idea of conserving the land as a carbon bank? It might actually be more profitable than doing so on private land, because federal leases present a relatively low-cost option on a massive scale. There is plenty of potential for national forests to act as a carbon sink, and according to the U.S. Forest Service, America’s public forests already offset 16 percent of our annual carbon emissions.
It’s not illegal to lease land for carbon sequestration. There just hasn’t been an executive order or any legislation that says you can do it. Because of that, most offset developers won’t consider projects on public land—yet. And all it might take is pressure from the private sector after they notice Sealaska and tribes turning big profits.
Carbon Credits Help Tribes Preserve Culture, Climate and Bottom Line
Feb. 16, 2016
The National Indian Carbon Coalition (NICC), a tribal non-profit, has received a three-year, $300,000 grant to improve access to carbon markets in Indian Country, enabling tribes to help mitigate climate change’s effects while improving their bottom line. “This is exciting for Indian Country,” said NICC Program Director Erick Giles, Muscogee (Creek) and a member of the Big Cat Clan. “Generating and selling carbon credits is a mostly untapped way for tribes to promote economic development on their reservations through resource management.”
Read the article at indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com.
Photo courtesy of Comanche Nation
Bureau of Indian Affairs places sacred site in Black Hills in trust
March 17, 2016
The Bureau of Indian Affairs placed a sacred site in the Black Hills of South Dakota in trust.The Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe raised $9 million to purchase Pe’ Sla, a 2,022-acre site that plays a central role in Lakota history, culture and cosmology. The tribes celebrated after learning of the BIA’s March 10 decision.
Read more at indianz.com.
Columbia Heights Public Schools recognized by Indian Land Tenure Foundation
Oct. 31, 2015
A representative from the Indian Land Tenure Foundation publicly recognized Columbia Heights Public Schools for its work in incorporating the Lessons of Our Land curriculum across the school district. The curriculum incorporates Native American Stories and lessons into regular classroom instruction.
Nichlas Emmons, program and development officer for the Indian Land Tenure Foundation, spoke to the School Board during its Oct. 13 meeting as part of a presentation with teaching and learning leaders on the curriculum integration, and also to recognize the district for its efforts.
Read more at focus.mnsun.com.
April 30, 2003
Through innovative programs, initiatives, and grants, ILTF is making a positive impact on the lives of Native Americans. These successes include:
- Assisting efforts by the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people to purchase and protect more than 2,300 acres at the Pe’ Sla sacred site in South Dakota.
- Helping create the National Tribal Land Association (NTLA) to bring together land professionals from Native Nations who are working to preserve, protect, develop and manage Indian land.
- Establishing the National Indian Carbon Coalition (NICC) to help Native Nations enter the emerging carbon credit markets, earning valuable income while protecting precious natural resources.
- Creating strategic land planning and educational tools used by tribal land planners and real estate professionals.
Watch for new success stories as these are added.
Kashia Tribe recovers its Pacific Coast homeland
Nearly 150 years after being forcibly removed from their ancestral homelands to an inland reservation, the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians in Sonoma County, Calif., once again have access to the Pacific Ocean. On June 15, 2016, the Tribe celebrated the recovery of nearly 700 acres, a milestone made possible with the help of the Indian Land Tenure Foundation (ILTF) and its affiliate, the Indian Land Capital Company (ILCC).
“This acquisition would not have been possible without the assistance of ILTF and ILCC,” said Kashia Tribal Chairman Reno Keoni Franklin. “Not only did they play a major financial role in our acquisition of the property, they also provided valuable advice and were a strong voice of empowerment for us when we doubted if we could complete the purchase.”
ILCC extended a loan to Kashia in 2015 to purchase the land north of San Francisco, which features redwood forest, towering coastal bluffs and spectacular waterfalls. The Tribe has established the Kashia Coastal Reserve, a protected open space and demonstration forest to educate and engage the public about the history and practices of the Kashia people.
Learn more about success stories made possible with financing from Indian Land Capital Company at ilcc.net.
2016 Tribal Land Staff National Conference a Success
The 6th Tribal Land Staff National Conference was held at the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel in Worley, Idaho March 22 – 24, 2016. As we traveled to the Northwest this year, tribal land staff from tribes who have not participated in the past were able to attend and experience a great opportunity to learn, share, and network with other tribal land professionals throughout Indian Country. A total of 68 tribes were represented with over 250 attendees. Participants had the opportunity to choose from 21 unique sessions including topics such as: Title Defects and Remedies, Tribal Airspace Rights, Contemporary Land Trusts, Fee-to-Trust Tribal Acquisitions to Federal Conveyance, Land or Real Property Codes, and Sustainable forestland managements. Materials from the conference are available to tribal land professionals on the Indian Land Forum website.
Learn more about the 2017 Tribal Land Staff National Conference at ntla.info.
Tribe-specific Curriculum for Montana Schools
Montana state standards include the teaching of tribal sovereignty, and this curriculum is an excellent fit with our state efforts to include authentic American Indian content in all Montana classrooms. – Mike Jetty, Curriculum Specialist, Montana Office of Public Instruction
In 2008, Indian Land Tenure Foundation (ILTF) funded the adaptation of ILTF’s K-12 curriculum, Lessons of Our Land, to reflect Montana tribal histories and cultures and to implement the curriculum in classrooms state-wide.
Montana public schools educate nearly 150,000 students each year, with Indian students making up about 12 percent of the student population. Montana has been on the front line of an emerging trend in state legislatures’ and education departments’ mandatory inclusion of tribal histories and cultural components into classroom materials. In 1999, the Montana Legislature passed the Indian Education for All Act, requiring all public schools throughout the state to include coursework in the history and culture of Indian tribes in the state. Teachers in Montana now have a wealth of resources to incorporate Native American perspectives in classroom materials.
The newly adapted curriculum was developed through extensive research and interviews with tribal elders and historians from Montana’s 12 tribes who reside on seven reservations throughout the state. The resulting product is a rich and varied source of lesson plans and materials, including photographs, slideshows, maps and a Montana tribal lands jeopardy game. All of the lessons align with Montana’s state-wide content standards.
ILTF hopes that the curriculum adaptation and implementation in Montana will serve as a catalyst for other states, especially those with significant Indian populations. In 2007, South Dakota, where nine percent of the total population and more than 11 percent of public school students are Native American, passed an Indian Education Act to support existing statewide Indian education programs and provide teacher training. Despite this progress, the state has yet to pass a mandate similar to Montana’s. To help them move in that direction, in 2008, ILTF made a grant to South Dakota’s Office of Indian Education to support the development of state academic standards in American Indian history and culture for the state’s K-12 programs.
The Head Start and K-12 curriculum is free and available to all at lessonsofourland.org.