Acquisition and Disposal
Acquisition and disposal refer to all activities relating to purchasing, selling, and long-term encumbrance of the property. Such long-term encumbrances include rights of way, easements, and leases. The Nation is in a mode of expanding its land base by purchasing properties within a specific selected area of the former reservation area.
Long-term plans for CPN land acquisition and development include:
- Ownership of all of the land bounded by HWY 177 on the west, Brangus Road on the east, the right bank of the north fork of the Canadian River to the north, and the tertiary terrace of the north fork to the south. The southern boundary or tertiary terrace follows Squirrel Creek in the western portions of the described area, and the line meanders southeast nearly to Benson Park Road in the eastern portions. This area is to ultimately become the land base for an independent Indian community.
- Acquire ownership of and reassemble the divided interests in the individual trust allotments with the intent that the lands may be put to efficient beneficial use to support Tribal programs.
- Utilize available investment capital for short-term opportunistic investment in land parcels as they become available. These parcels to be held for short terms (3-6 years) and sold as the opportunity to profit presents itself.
- Utilize existing allotments and purchase additional lands as necessary to complete developments in the four identified development areas: FireLake, Sacred Heart, Wanette, and McLoud. These development areas were set out in the integrated resources management plan prepared by Dr. Jim Collard in 2012.
Fee to Trust
In pursuit of the mission and to increase the flexibility of land uses, DRES works continuously to place purchases of fee properties into trust. The result of this process is that deeds to properties read, “Owned by the United States of America in trust for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.” Although regulations exist to place property into trust for individuals, from a practical standpoint, the only fee-to-trust application that the BIA will consider is if the owner is incompetent or a minor.
Placing property into trust has a number of advantages for CPN, including:
- Tribal control of development policies and regulations
- Taxing to Tribal tax system rather than State system
- Expression of sovereignty
- Implementation of self-governance
- The methodology of building wealth
- A base for long-term enterprise development
- Putting assets in a form that is difficult for shortsighted leadership to sell, destroy or misuse
- Protecting land and wealth for future generations
When a Tribal member dies and they owned trust assets such as an interest in trust land or trust funds, these assets must be probated by the Department of Interior. The probate process begins with the collection of information about the person and their potential heirs. The rules of heir-ship are set out in the American Indian Probate Reform Act and administered by the Office of Hearings and Appeals. Once the family data is collected, the materials are forwarded to the Department of Interior Administrative Law Judge who reviews the materials and makes a determination as to who are the rightful heirs and orders the distributions of the decedent’s assets. As a part of this process and why this process is within the Department of Real Estate Services is the tracking of ownership of the various trust allotments.
Purchase at Probate
DRES has operated the Purchase at Probate program for several years and is the only Tribe in the Nation doing so. When a person dies owning trust land, the staff of DRES makes an offer to the heirs to purchase the interest they stand to inherit. At the heir’s option, they can sell their interest to CPN at or above appraised value. This process is procedurally much simpler than other types of ownership transfer of trust lands. The American Indian Probate Reform Act sets out rules for the transfer of trust lands to heirs, and the DRES purchase at probate program does simplify the process as compared to the trust-to-trust purchase process.
Trust-to-Trust Purchases & Gift Deeds
Trust-to-trust purchase is a process whereby trust landowners can sell their interest to another owner in the same parcel at a price that is at or above the appraised value. Gift deeds are a process where-by trust landowners can transfer their ownership in a trust parcel to family members or other owners in the same parcel for consideration, which is less than appraised value. These processes are somewhat lengthy, and the BIA must be assured that the transfer of the property will not have a substantial effect on the income or well-being of the owner. This attitude on the part of the BIA is a part of their trust responsibility. The staff of DRES is prepared to assist trust owners in the procedures of the trust-to-trust and gift deed processes.
DRES oversees the management and operation of the 77 allotments that remain from the 1,489 originally allotted. With few exceptions, the ownership of these allotments is fractionated to the point where owner management is not practical, and DRES compacts this management function from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Management activities include farming and grazing leasing, oil and gas leasing, property maintenance and improvement, and natural resource management. The staff of DRES is available to assist trust owners with allotment management issues.