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


California has announced grant awards totaling $107.7 million to 33 tribes across the state for use in land projects. The awards stem from the Tribal Nature-Based Solutions grant program, announced in 2023. Funding will be used for land return deals, implementation of traditional ecological knowledge and tribal expertise, habitat restoration, and climate resilience. In total, land return projects funded by the grants are expected to return over 38,000 acres of land to tribal communities. Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel Chairman Kevin Osuna called the grant awards “a symbol of solidarity” and added that, “Today marks a pivotal moment in our journey towards healing and reconciliation.”


The city of La Center, Washington has voted to allow the Cowlitz Tribe to take between 50 and 55 acres into trust. The news comes from Battle Ground, Washington-based local paper The Reflector. The city land sits near Interstate 5, across from ilani Casino and Resort, the tribe’s gaming and hospitality enterprise. The tribe purchased the property in 2016, but had a standing agreement with the city not to attempt taking the land into trust. The city has since ceded that restriction, in exchange for payments made in lieu of lost sales taxes. 

In Minnesota, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community has applied to take 815 acres of land in Scott County into trust. The acreage is the total of 31 separate parcels extending into the cities of Prior Lake and Shakopee, per a Star Tribune report. The tribe wants to use the Inkpata land for preservation, to provide animal habitat and for housing, according to a tribal executive cited in the story.


The Canadian province of British Columbia has transferred 10,000 square kilometers of forested islands back into the Haida Nation’s control. In the Gaayhllxid/Gíihlagalgang “Rising Tide” Haida Title Lands Agreement, British Columbia’s leadership recognized tribal ownership of the Haida Gwaii islands just off the province’s coast. As reported by nonprofit climate publication Resilience, it’s the first such recognition by a provincial government in Canada’s history. After a two-year transition period, the tribe will take over full management and ownership of the 200-plus islands. 


Documentarian Laura Paskus has chronicled the efforts of the Pueblo of Santa Ana to restore 60,000 acres of their land in “Our Land: Ancestral Connections.” The film is the latest in New Mexico PBS’ ongoing coverage of the pueblo’s restoration efforts. The Pueblo purchased the land in 2016 for $30 million, after years as part of former Gov. Bruce King’s ranch. Paskus’ film walks viewers through what those restoration projects look like, such as removing interior fencing or reseeding grasslands. The film is available for free on Our Land’s Youtube channel.

Another new documentary, “Yintah,” follows the efforts of the Wet’suwet’en Nation’s fight for stewardship and sovereignty over their territories in Canada. As reported by film publication IndieWire, the documentary's production included more than three dozen Wet’suwet’en community members. The film focuses on the fight against fossil fuel companies building on Wet’suwet’en. Production actually led to the temporary arrest of co-director Michael Toledano in 2021. “Yintah” began its premiere cycle in film festivals in April, with a wider release planned later in 2024. 

In the podcast world, NDN Collective, a Rapid City-based organization advocating for indigenous rights, made waves in the podcast sphere with their series 'Landback.' Launched in January 2023, the podcast, spearheaded by CEO Nick Tilsen and his team, sheds light on the global indigenous struggle for land rights. Season One delved into the importance of advocating for land back, explored key issues, and shared poignant narratives of native communities' resilience. In an interview with KOTA, Tilsen emphasized the ongoing nature of the movement, with Season Two promising to spotlight recent land back victories.

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

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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