Cobell payments

Donald Spotted Tail leaves the Crow Agency Post Office after picking up his Cobell land settlement payment in September. The U.S. government has made offers worth a total of $298 million to nearly 4,000 landowners on the Crow Indian reservation.

LARRY MAYER/Gazette Staff

HELENA — The U.S. government has made offers worth a total of $298 million to nearly 4,000 landowners on the Crow Indian reservation to buy their fractionated parcels and turn them over to the tribe.

The voluntary buy-back program is the second phase of the $3.4 billion Cobell class-action lawsuit settlement over mismanaged royalties that were held in trust for Indian landowners by the government.

The $1.9 billion program aims to buy land parcels owned by multiple individuals — sometime hundreds or thousands of people — and turn them over to tribal governments. U.S. Department of Interior officials said there are nearly 3 million fractional land interests over 150 reservations eligible for the program.

The Crow landowners have until Nov. 21 to accept or reject the offers.

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