The federal government is doubling the number of American Indian communities involved in a $1.9 billion tribal lands consolidation program.
Deputy Secretary of the Interior Mike Connor announced Thursday that 21 Indian communities in 12 states will join the land buyback program by 2017.
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That brings the number of locations in the program to 42.
The buyback program is part of a $3.4 billion settlement of a class-action lawsuit filed by Elouise Cobell of Browning, Montana, who died in 2011. The lawsuit claimed Interior Department officials mismanaged trust money held by the government for hundreds of thousands of Indian landowners.
Connor says in its first year, $225 million was paid to individual Native Americans for restoring the equivalent of 375,000 acres to tribal governments.