Native American tribes in the United States will soon be given 10 million acres following a land buy-back program. The US government is currently preparing to spend almost $2 billion in purchasing privately owned lands.
This plan is the result of a lawsuit in 2010 that ended after Congress agreed to buy back the land to return to Native American tribes. The head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Ken Washburn, thinks the buy-back could have many benefits for Native American groups in the US, reports UPI. But he says it will be up to Americans to voluntarily sell their land to Congress.
No one will be forced to leave their property. The buy-back will be completely optional. Some expect many property owners to be resistant to selling their land, however.
One critic explains why some people will not want to give up their land to the government. Les Riding-In is assistant dean at the University of Texas. Riding-In teaches graduate studies there, and is an active member of the Comanche Tribe. He says that people, especially Native Americans with private land, may see the land buy-back program as another retaking of land by the US government — just another act in a long history of taking land away, like colonization.
Some leaders of Native American tribes in the US say the plan is not fair. They say that of the 10 million acres, nearly 4.5 million of it will go to just seven tribes. With 150 recognized Native American tribes in the US, Chief James Allan of the Coeur d’Alene Tribes says everyone else will be left to fight over scraps.
The Department of the Interior is still in consultation with several tribe leaders. The US government hopes to begin the buy-back program this year with hopes to be able to turn over 10 million acres to Native American tribes within several years.