LAND PURCHASE PROGRAM
Early Tribal Councilmen recognized that over the years more than 150,000 acres of Indian trust allotted lands have been fee patented and/or sold into non-Indian ownership creating a checker board of ownership between trust and non-Indian lands within their Reservation. By recognizing this loss of net acreage of the Reservation, the Yakama Tribe in the late 1940s and early 1950s engaged in a Land Purchase Program. They intended to use their timber and other limited income to accomplish these purchases.
Action to establish a land purchase program was officially instituted in 1950. A Plan of Operation was approved by the Tribal Council, General Council and the Secretary of the Interior on June 2, 1950. However, it was not operable due to the Appropriation Acts of 1950-51-52. These restrictive provisions were removed in 1953 and $50,000 of Tribal Funds was made available for purchases on April 2, 1954. Since that time, there has been an annual appropriation of Tribal money for this purpose. In 1983, Yakama Tribal Council changed this by no longer appropriating Tribal funds and required the Land Enterprise land purchase program to be self-sufficient.
The objectives of the Land Enterprise are to acquire key tracts plus those allotments held in multiple fractionated ownership; improve and develop land now owned so that maximum benefits will be returned to the Tribe; and, promote the better and fuller development and utilization of the resources of the Yakama Indian Nation. Purchase includes the acquisition of option estates due the Yakama Tribe's special Yakama Inheritance Law that allows only enrolled Yakamas with not less ¼ degree of Yakama blood to inherit land on their Reservation.
Land purchases will always continue to be the primary objective of Yakama Land Enterprise. All purchases are administered in accordance with the Bureau of Indian Affairs under Title 25 of the Code of Federal Regulations. However, all sales are administered by Land Enterprise staff. The purchase program operates on estimated income that is expected for each fiscal year (October 1st - September 30th). This means that more land can be purchased during high income years and less land during years of low income. The Tribe tries to purchase as much non-Indian (fee land) tracts as possible mixed in with Indian trust allotments that Indian owners request to sell to the Tribe.
During the last quarter of Fiscal Year 2000, Yakama Nation contracted the Real Estate Service program from the Bureau of Indian Affairs under a 638 Contract.