Why didn’t Navajo landowners take Interior Department’s buyback offers this year?

 
Monument Valley during a lightning storm. Photo by fhhoq.com/CC BY 4.0

By Parker Shea | Arizona Mirror

The U.S. Department of Interior’s latest round of its land buyback program ended in September for all Navajo Nation applicants, and DOI’s early data show a sharp decline in participation.

As of Sept. 27, only 23% of Navajo landowners who had offers participated in the program, compared to 43% in the program’s last round in 2016. Of the $157 million the Interior Department set aside for Navajo Nation landowners, only $39 million was accepted. 

By comparison, in 2016 the government set aside $259 million, of which $108 million was accepted. To date, the U.S. has bought back nearly 200,000 acres from landowners on the Navajo reservation.

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