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Here’s our monthly roundup of recent landback deals, trust acquisitions, and other real estate deals involving Native American tribes and Indigenous businesses.  


The Hoopa Valley Tribe announced its largest-ever land reacquisition after buying back 10,395 acres of land along the western boundary of the tribe’s northern California reservation. The tribe finalized the $14.1 million purchase of the land in Dec. 2023, growing the tribe’s landbase to more than 102,000 acres, per a report from nonprofit joint venture Native Philanthropy. The property was previously held by Australian-based New Forests, a global investment manager of nature-based real assets and natural capital strategies.

The Elk Valley Rancheria acquired a 9.19-acre parcel along Highway 101 in South Beach, Calif. on Jan. 18. The land was acquired for the benefit of wildlife habitat enhancement and public access, and for the removal of invasive species, per a report from the Del Norte Triplicate. The $725,000 purchase was funded with a grant  from the California State Coastal Conservancy.  

The Kalispel Tribe has launched an effort to take 243 acres of fee land in Spokane, Washington into federal trust for further development. The land is part of the tribe’s Qlispé Raceway Park property, which they purchased from Spokane County in 2021 for $6.1 million, according to a report from local publication YubaNet. The proposed trust acquisition includes a quarter-mile drag strip, a 2.5-mile paved road course and half-mile oval track. 

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Two tribes, the Payómkawichum and Kumeyaay, have started a petition on Change.org in hopes of having roughly 1.5 acres of coastline recently purchased by the city of Encinitas, California returned to them. While the city bought the property to preserve open spaces, per a report by the Encinitas Advocate, tribal members in the area have since lobbied the city council to return the land to tribal use. As of this writing, the petition has gathered 471 signatures.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will close Upper Sioux Agency State Park and transfer the land to the Upper Sioux Tribal Community, adding a little more than 2 square miles to the tribe’s landbase. According to a report by Minnesota Public Radio, the park will close permanently on Feb. 16, at which point the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will tear down signs, buildings, and other infrastructure. The department expects the land transfer to be completed by mid-March. 

The Canadian province of British Columbia and the Snuneymuxw First Nation have completed the first of three agreed-upon land transfers on Vancouver Island. The province returned 212 hectares of land on Te'tuxwtun (also known as Mount Benson East) to the Snuneymuxw First Nation, according to a report on CTV. The nation also said last month that it had expanded its reserve by an additional 80 hectares under a new interim land-reconciliation agreement with the Canadian federal government. 

The Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, which is not a federally recognized tribe, announced last month that more than 500 acres in northern Los Angeles Country had been donated by Land Veritas, a Sausalito, Calif.-based land mitigation bank.  More information about specific plans and uses for the land will be shared by The Tataviam Land Conservancy and the Band as part of their 2024 planning, according to a statement. 


The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians asked the federal government to take 38.2 acres of North Carolina land into trust following a unanimous vote by its tribal council on Feb. 1, 2024.  The properties include a 32.45 acre tract of land in Graham County and a 5.75 acres tract in Swain County. The tribe plans to use the parcel in Graham County for a cultural and language facility, according to a local media report

The Pascua Yaqui Tribe completed the federal trust land acquisition process in late December 2023 for 31 acres of culturally significant land near the community known as Old Pascua. With the land now held in trust by the federal government, the tribe plans to develop a new gaming property in Central Tucson, the region’s first. 


The Ute Indian Tribe asserted its sovereignty over its land in late January when it terminated all active hunting, fishing and recreation permits for non-tribal members on more than 4 million acres of tribal lands in the Uintah Basin in northeastern Idaho. In an announcement, the tribe said the decision was “a response to recent events involving nonmember activities on Tribal land that gave rise to serious concerns over the safety of Tribal employees, officers, and members.  The Tribe has taken a hard stand to protect its people from nonmembers who exploit Tribal permits and disregard Tribal rules and regulations in place to protect Tribal communities and natural resources.”   

A newly established land trust in Lahaina aims to preserve local control over significant lands in the historic Hawaiian town, according to a local NPR station. The Lahaina Land Trust seeks to safeguard Lahaina's unique cultural and historical identity by ensuring the community's involvement in the stewardship of its lands. This initiative reflects a commitment to maintaining Lahaina's character and heritage for future 

The state of Utah has withdrawn its support for a proposed land swap involving state trust lands in the Bears Ears National Monument. Republican leaders argued that the federal government is neglecting the state's input on the monument's management plan, according to a local media outlet. The proposed exchange, now in jeopardy, would transfer 130,000 acres within Bears Ears from the state's Trust Lands Administration to federal agencies, affecting both cultural and natural resources.

Finally, since you’re reading about land back deals and other transactions about tribal lands, we’re going to encourage you to read the “Misplaced Trust” investigation by GRIST, a nonprofit online magazine. Over the past year, GRIST examined and analyzed public data on trust lands associated with land-grant universities and found that 14 public universities continue to benefit from extractive industries on stolen Indigenous land.     

If you have news or information about landback acquisitions or deals involving tribal land, shoot me a note at [email protected].

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About The Author
Chez Oxendine
Staff Writer
Chez Oxendine (Lumbee-Cheraw) is a staff writer for Tribal Business News. Based in Oklahoma, he focuses on broadband, Indigenous entrepreneurs, and federal policy. His journalism has been featured in Native News Online, Fort Gibson Times, Muskogee Phoenix, Baconian Magazine, and Oklahoma Magazine, among others.
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