Indian Programs:

Profile of Land Ownership at 12 Reservations

RCED-92-96BR: Published: Feb 10, 1992. Publicly Released: Feb 10, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the: (1) ownership of Indian land administered by the Department of the Interior; (2) Bureau of Indian Affairs' (BIA) work load in maintaining ownership records; and (3) Indian Land Consolidation Act's effect on the degree of fractionated ownership.

GAO held that: (1) tribes or individuals own in entirety over half of the 83,000 land tracts at the 12 reservations; (2) over 20 percent of the tracts are characterized by fractionated ownership, with at least one small ownership interest; (3) out of 4,752 tracts, about 40 percent of the tracts are subsurface, containing oil, gas, and mineral components, about 27 percent are surface tracts, and about 33 percent are both; (4) the BIA work load for ownership recordkeeping is substantial, since it maintains about 1.1 million records for the 12 reservations; (5) over 60 percent of the ownership records represent individuals' small ownership interests; and (6) while over 16,400 small ownership interests have been transferred to the tribes since the passage of the Indian Land Consolidation Act, the number of small interests at the 12 reservations has more than doubled, from about 305,000 to over 620,000, during the same time period.

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