Frequently Asked Questions

First Steps as Landowner

Call Trust Beneficiary Call Center

The Trust Beneficiary Call Center is a centralized location for asking questions and receiving timely responses.

  • Hours: 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM (Mountain Time) Monday through Friday
  • 8:00 AM to Noon (Mountain Time) on Saturday
  • Ensure your contact information is correct
  • Ask any questions you may have about the Program
  • Indicate your desire to sell


Who is involved in the Buy-Back Program?

The Buy-Back Program is an office within the Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior.  The Program works closely with the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians (OST), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to implement the Program across Indian Country. 

An Oversight Board, chaired by the Deputy Secretary, also works to ensure the Program is carried out effectively and efficiently.  The Board is comprised of key Departmental leadership, including the Solicitor, the Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs, and the Director for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. 

In addition, the Program is working with tribes to ensure the best information is available to landowners.  Tribes participating in the Buy-Back Program have an opportunity to enter into cooperative agreements, when feasible and practical, or other arrangements with the Program to access potential resources to assist in Program implementation.

What makes a tract eligible for the Buy-Back Program?

To be eligible for the Buy-Back Program, a tract must have: more than one owner; at least one trust or restricted interest; and appraised values. In addition, the tract must be mappable (i.e., legal description of a tract does not require further research) and not be 100 percent comprised of ineligible interests. Finally, the recognized tribe must exercise jurisdiction over the tract.

What makes an interest eligible for the Buy-Back Program?

Interests must be located within an eligible tract and must be individually owned in trust or restricted status to be eligible for the Buy-Back Program.

What makes an interest not eligible for purchase?

An interest is not eligible for purchase through the Buy-Back Program if it is: owned in fee status or by the tribe; subject to life estate or joint tenancy; owned by a minor; or owned by an individual unable to make decisions on their own behalf (under a legal disability based on restricted status of landowner’s IIM account). In addition, if interest ownership is pending legal transaction (such as probate), it will not be considered.

How does the Program determine what interests it will seek to acquire?

The Buy-Back Program will send offers to as many individuals as possible considering the following purchase factors to identify tracts:

  • Completed appraisal;
  • Tribal priority tracts;
  • Level of fractionated ownership;
  • Tract values; and/or
  • Interested/willing sellers. 

There is no fixed formula.  The purchase factors and associated values/rates will be different for each reservation.  The Buy-Back Program continuously analyzes and adjusts the purchase factors during the time it spends at each reservation to obtain the most benefit for both the willing seller and the tribe.

How long does the Program plan to be at each location?

Due to limitations on implementation costs as set forth by the Cobell Settlement Agreement, the Program cannot support a long-term presence at each location.  The Program plans to spend 12 to 18 months at each location; however, this timeframe may be adjusted.  Tribes may work with the Department to determine an appropriate timeframe based on their individual needs.

American Indian Probate Reform Act of 2004, PL 108-374
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Land Buy-Back Appraisal Fact Sheet
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Understanding Appraisals and the Valuation Process in the Land Buy-Back Program
Information related to the appraisal process to make sure land owners are offered Fair Market Value (FMV) for their land interests. All appraisal methods used by the Department of Interior are in compliance with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).
Adobe Acrobat Document 1.2 MB