Navajo signs for second buyback program

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation again is trying to consolidate land that has multiple owners within the reservation.

The tribe recently signed an agreement with the Interior Department for a second phase of the land buyback program.

The program is part of a legal settlement that found the federal government squandered billions of dollars it held in trust for tribes from energy development or other uses of tribal land.

Federal officials agreed to spend $1.6 billion to purchase so-called fractionated parcels and transfer the land to tribes. About $322 million remains. The buyback program expires in November 2022.

In an initial phase, the Navajo Nation sent offers to more than 25,000 landowners and consolidated about 242 square miles.

About 50 tribal nations have participated in the program.

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