BLM Finalizes the Return of Nearly 60,000 Acres of Land to the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians in Minnesota
January 20, 2017
In support of meeting the nation’s obligations to the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians in Minnesota, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) announced Friday that the BLM has completed its land surveys and legal identification of nearly 60,000 acres that were restored to the Red Lake Band. The lands are scattered across northern Minnesota in five counties.
“Friday’s action underscores the Department of the Interior’s commitment to fulfilling its responsibilities to the Red Lake Band,” said Janice Schneider, Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management.
The action represents a significant milestone in meeting the requirements of a decades-old Secretarial Order signed in 1945 that mandated the return of lands to tribal ownership.
"The restoration of these lands to the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians is an example of the Department of the Interior working in collaboration with Tribal Nations to restore tribal homelands, which are the foundation of their cultures, livelihoods and sovereignty,” said Lawrence S. Roberts, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs. “Congratulations to the Red Lake Band leadership for their commitment to working collaboratively with the Department to restore nearly 60,000 acres of land.”
This is an important step in a process that started between 1889 and 1904 when the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians in Minnesota relinquished about 2.9 million acres of Indian lands to the United States for timber sales and homesteading. By the 1930s, the U.S. government had disposed of most, but not all of those lands. The 1945 Secretarial Order mandated the return of lands that had not been sold or homesteaded to tribal ownership.
“The BLM considers our work with Indian tribes to be one of our foundational responsibilities,” said BLM Director Neil Kornze. “We are proud to see these homelands restored to the Red Lake Band of the Chippewa and are grateful for their patience and partnership through this long process."
The completion of the surveys adds almost 60,000 acres to an already identified 121,000 acres of land that were returned to the Red Lake Band in 1999 and 2001, bringing the total amount surveyed and identified by the BLM to more than 181,000 acres.
The notification of this action was published in the Federal Register on January 13, 2017 - https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/01/13/2017-00556/identifying-lands-subject-to-secretarial-order-of-restoration-of-february-22-1945.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America's public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.