HELENA — The U.S. government has signed agreements to extend a land buy-back program to three Montana reservations.
The agreements announced Wednesday between the Interior Department, and leaders from the Crow, Fort Belknap and Fort Peck reservations pave the way for the government to buy fractionated land parcels from their multiple owners and give them to the tribes.
The $1.9 billion program is the largest piece of a $3.4 billion settlement of a lawsuit claiming Interior Department officials mismanaged trust money held for hundreds of thousands of Indian landowners.
The program began with the South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation and so far has spent $72 million to restore 203,000 acres of land to tribes.
This spring, Interior Department officials said the program would expand to 21 reservations, including the three named Wednesday.