- Associated Press - Sunday, December 20, 2015

BELCOURT, N.D. (AP) - The federal government says it has signed an agreement with the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians to extend a land buy-back program to their reservation in northern North Dakota.

The agreement between the tribe and the Interior Department paves the way for the government to buy fractionated land parcels from their multiple owners and give them to the tribe.

Allotting reservation land to individual tribal members, who passed it to heirs, was once a government method for assimilating American Indians. Some parcels have several owners.

Tribal Chairman Richard McCloud says the program will bring economic development opportunities to the reservation.

The program has paid over $729 million to individual landowners and restored the equivalent of about 1.5 million acres of land to tribal governments since it began in 2013.

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