Inside Politics: U.S. outlines plans for Indian land buyback

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HELENA, Mont. — U.S. government officials Tuesday outlined a $1.9 billion American Indian land buyback program now that a nearly 17-year lawsuit about more than a century’s worth of mismanaged trust royalties is settled.

The 10-year buyback program is the largest part of the $3.4 billion settlement of a class-action lawsuit filed by Elouise Cobell of Browning, Mont., in 1996 and finalized last month.

Interior Department and Bureau of Indian Affairs officials laid out the program’s initial framework Tuesday in Washington. The program aims to purchase, mostly within the next four years, individual allotments from willing Indians and turn over the consolidated parcels to tribes.

Land fractionation was caused by the 1887 Dawes Act, which split tribal lands into individual allotments, which have been inherited by multiple heirs with each passing generation. Using or leasing those tracts requires approval of all owners, so many are undeveloped.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama sets prayer service after oath

President Obama is planning an inaugural prayer service at the National Cathedral the morning after he takes the oath of office.

An inaugural service has been a tradition for most modern presidencies. Mr. Obama plans to hold his Jan. 22 at 10:30 a.m. That’s according to people involved in the planning speaking on the condition of anonymity without authorization to discuss the event ahead of its official announcement.

Mr. Obama begins his second term at noon Jan. 20, and plans a private swearing-in at the White House with limited press. His public inauguration will be on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Monday, Jan. 21, since the ceremony is not traditionally held on Sunday.

SENATE

McCain recalls faltering on quiz-show question

Sen. John McCain — a war hero, longtime U.S. senator and presidential nominee — certainly has accumulated his share of knowledge on an array of subjects over the years.

Apparently Emily Bronte isn’t one of them.

Mr. McCain on Tuesday recalled his loss on the classic television game show “Jeopardy” in 1965. He won the game the first day but was stumped by the final question on the second day.

He shared the final clue with reporters: “Cathy loves him, but she married Edgar Linton instead.”

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