The Latest: Lawyer says Indian land buy effort to need money

AP News
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Posted: May 17, 2016 5:04 PM

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Latest on dozens of tribes joining a program that seeks to return land on American Indian reservations to tribal ownership (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

An attorney for an American Indian group says U.S. officials will need more money from Congress to cover the costs of an initiative to return land on reservations to tribal ownership.

John Dossett with the National Congress of American Indians says the U.S. Interior Department program is working well. But he says the $1.9 billion put into it under a 2009 legal settlement won't be enough to get the work done.

The program consolidates individual parcels of land with multiple owners and turns the property over to tribes to be put to beneficial use. It expires in 2022.

Interior officials on Tuesday added 63 reservations in 16 states to the initiative, bringing the total number involved to 105.

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11:30 a.m.

U.S. officials are adding 63 American Indian reservations across the Midwest and West to an initiative that seeks to return millions of acres of land to tribal ownership.

The move comes as the Interior Department warns the $1.9 billion effort to return land to tribes is running out of time and money.

The Associated Press obtained details in advance of a planned Tuesday announcement. Reservations in 16 states are joining the program.

It's the result of a legal settlement with American Indians led by Elouise Cobell of Montana, who said the U.S. mismanaged trust money held on behalf of hundreds of thousands of Indians.

Since 2013, the U.S. has paid $742 million to restore 1.5 million acres to tribal control.