Feds: 500,000 acres of land returned to tribes under Obama

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal officials say more than 500,000 acres have been returned to the control of tribes under the Obama administration, which made restoring tribal homelands a key part of its Indian Country policy.

The Obama administration says it surpassed the half-million acre benchmark last week with the transfer of a 71,000-acre swath of federal land to tribal control in Nevada.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says the administration’s goal of returning 500,000 acres, or roughly 780 square miles, of land represented a shift from federal policy that historically resulted in U.S. tribes losing millions of acres of land over hundreds of years.

The government’s move to place land into trust for tribes essentiallly ensures the tracts can’t be taken from them or sold because only a congressional vote can remove the land from tribal ownership or jurisdiction.

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