Fractionated land tracts on Native American reservations are the result of the 1887 Dawes Act, which created parcels that have been divided and subdivided through the generations. Many have been reduced into hundredths-of-an-acre in size.
The federal land buy-back program is the result of the Cobell Land Trust Lawsuit. Its goal is to consolidate those tracts into tribal trust land.
Some 4,000 fractionated tracts of land on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation alone have the potential to deliver $69 million into the pockets of 8,000 tribal members.
Four Bands Community Fund is located on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. Director Tanya Fiddler observes that Native Americans have only a recent history in dealing with banking institutions. As a result, says Fiddler, it’s vital that they be offered guidance in how to manage the large amounts of money many may be receiving.
“We’ve been doing this work for about fifteen years,” Fiddler explains. “We have an education platform called ‘Make Money Matter’ and are promoting throughout the reservation ways to make money matter with the land buyback program.”
Those ways include creating a savings account, investing locally or taking a personal investment training class to learn more ways to make your money matter.
The Four Bands Community Fund is also working with banks in the area to apprise them of the land buy-back program and prepare them for the large volume of business that may soon be coming their way.