Indian Affairs | Division of Real Estate Services

Division of Real Estate Services

This program supports the Departmental goal of Serving Indian Communities by Fulfilling Indian fiduciary trust responsibilities and improving Indian trust ownership information. Major responsibilities of the program include ensuring that the trust and restricted federal Indian-owned lands are protected, managed, accounted for, developed, and utilized, in a timely and efficient manner.

The program processes a multitude of transactions which range from the functions of Cadastral Survey; Acquisition and Disposal (A&D); Lease Compliance; Leasing and Permitting for both surface and sub-surface leases and permits; Unresolved Indian Rights; and Rights-of-way.

The program works extensively with the acquisition, transfer and disposal of federally-owned excess and surplus land, acquisition of land for and/or other real properties for use by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Tribes required pursuant to the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (P.L.93-638), P.L.93-599 and the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC). Land is acquired from the General Services Administration (GSA), Department of Defense(DOD), Indian Health Services (IHS), Army Corps of Engineers, and through the private sector through special legislation. Some of the major cases processed are:

  • Fee-to-Trust Cases which involve both on and off reservation
  • Trust-to-Trust that involve conveyances from individual Indians and Tribes
  • Trust-to-Fee that involves conveyances from individual Indians to non-Indians and entities
  • Acquisitions and transfer from federal agencies and the private sector
  • Surface for agriculture, residential and business
  • Subsurface leases for oil and gas, coal, copper, uranium amongst other hard rock minerals
  • Rights-of-way for roads, fiber optics, energy related type activity
  • Investigation of trespass related to numerous unauthorized use

Sub-activity under Real Estate Services:

Cadastral Services
Determination of the legal boundaries of Indian trust lands is essential to ensure that property and resources are properly accounted for and protected. The surveys are either original surveys under the Public Land Survey System (PLSS) or re-surveys that re-establish the boundaries executed in the original survey or restore boundary monuments lost or deteriorated since the original survey. The Bureau of Indian Affairs provides funding to the Bureau of Land Management under a Memorandum of Understanding to perform cadastral surveys on trust or restricted lands. The program implemented the following Fiduciary Trust Model components: BLM Indian Land Surveyor program, Certified Federal Surveyor program, Enhance Public Lands Survey System in Indian Country, and is in the process of developing a cadastral based geographic information system.

Lease Compliance
The program ensures that lease activities on trust and restricted Indian lands and their assignees are in compliance with the terms of the leases. These activities may result in the recovery of funds for the Indian landowners through the collection of late payment penalties and interest, damages or bond forfeitures. Compliance actions include physical inspections of lease file and site visits, lease cancellations for non-timely payment, non-rentals, non-compliance with terms of lease, and prevention of future lease violations. Many of the violations identified require extensive field site visits, which can be in very remote and isolated locations that demand in depth review and expertise. The Bureau’s program goal is to protect and enhance the Indian leasehold estate.

NEW Leasing Regulations 25 CFR Part 162: Residential, Business and Wind and Solar Resource Leases on Indian Land

This rule will be published in the Federal Register on December 5, 2012
The rule will become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register