Today, Village Earth launches a new section on our website to promote strategic land planning on Native American Reservations. While the site is focused on the Pine Ridge reservation, it is hoped that it will also provide information and resources for individuals and families interested in consolidating and utilizing their allotted lands on reservations throughout the United Sates. Why Strategic Land Planning?
Approximately 24.5 percent of Native American’s, an estimated 800,000 people, are living in poverty at or below the national poverty level. Despite this dire economic situation, Native Americans own a great deal of land, approximately 112,637.29 square miles, second only to the federal government. Yet, many Native American’s have not been able to fully benefit from these vast resources because of various contradictions in the Federal land tenure policy for Indian lands. In particular, the obstacles created by the General Allotment Act (GAA) signed in to law in 1887.
Today, many Native Americans would like to live on and utilize their lands. However, from over 120 years of unplanned inheritance under the GAA, Indian lands have become so fractionated (divided from generation to generation) that in order for someone to utilize their lands for agriculture, business development, housing etc. they might be required to get the permission from hundreds or even thousands of individual land owners.
How Can Strategic Land Planning Help?
Village Earth supports individual land owners by providing education, resources, and support to analyze the different options they have for the management, use and inheritance of their lands, now and for future generations. But also, to choose an appropriate course of action and move towards it. This might include but is not limited to:
Consolidating fractionated pieces of land.
Creating wills to lessen further fractionation.
Creating agreements between landowners for the use of specific undivided allotments of land.
Accessing the resources, information and training needed to utilize their lands on their own.
Participating in Federal/Tribal land consolidation programs.
Village Earth’s newly launched web resource will help consolidate and disseminate information and resources for individuals interested in strategic land planning. Indian land owners on Pine Ridge can also download an application to participate in Strategic Land Planning Initiative. The URL for Village Earth’s Strategic Land Planning Web Resource is: http://www.villageearth.org/pages/Projects/Pine_Ridge/SLP/index.php