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Tribal Leaders Feel Left Out Of Land Buyback Program

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Tribal leaders from Montana, Oklahoma and Washington state say they feel shut out of decisions in a $1.9 billion federal land buyback program.

They told a congressional panel Thursday the program must be changed to be completed within its 10-year timeline.

The program is part of a $3.4 billion settlement finalized in 2012 over mismanaged money held in trust by the government for individual Indian landowners.

The program aims to consolidate land parcels across the nation that amassed thousands of individual Indian owners over more than a century.

The Department of Interior is identifying parcels for purchase and turning it over to the tribes.

The tribal leaders say they want to be more involved in approaching landowners and shaping agreements, but Interior Department officials have been unresponsive.

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