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Indian Land Consolidation Act Amendments of 2000, Public Law 106-462 (114 Stat. 1992)

Passed Nov. 7, 2000

Amends the Indian Land Consolidation Act to revise certain Indian land consolidation provisions adds to the definition of "Indian" any person who has been found to meet such definition under a provision of federal law if consistent with the purposes of the act.

Declares that it is the policy of the United States:

  1. to prevent the further fractionation of trust allotments;
  2. to consolidate fractional interests and ownership of those interests into usable parcels;
  3. to consolidate fractional interests in a manner that enhances tribal sovereignty;
  4. to promote tribal self-sufficiency and self-determination; and,
  5. to reverse the effects of the allotment policy on Indian tribes.

Sets forth a provision requiring the approval of the secretary of the interior for trust or restricted land sales, except with respect to an Indian tribe that has a secretary-approved land consolidation plan.

Requires approval by the secretary within 180 days of any adopted Indian tribal probate code governing descent and distribution of trust or restricted interests. Outlines approval procedures, reserves life estates for non-Indian devisees who would otherwise be precluded from inheriting by reason of the adopted code, and authorizes payments by tribes to such devisees to acquire interests.

In the absence of tribal probate codes, this act provides uniform rules for descent and distribution of interests in Indian lands. 

To prevent Indian lands from passing out of trust, non-Indian heirs will only receive a life estate in Indian lands (a life estate is property that belongs to a person for their lifetime, but cannot be sold or passed on to anyone else until after the death of the person.) Because a non-Indian heir owns less than the full interest, a “remainder interest” is created, and this remainder interest must go to an Indian heir of the first or second degree. If there are no such heirs, the remainder may be purchased by any Indian co-owner of the parcel. If no offer is made to purchase the parcel, the remainder interest passes to the tribe. The rules are applicable to both testate (with a will) and intestate (no will) Indian estates.

The 2000 amendments provide an exception in cases where Indian owners of trust land may not have an Indian heir and the general rule would deprive them of the ability to devise more than a life estate to any of their heirs. They may devise an interest to either their heirs of the first or second degree or collateral heirs of the first or second degree. Because these people are non-Indian, the interest would pass in fee, not in trust. These interests may also be purchased by the tribe.

This act also limits the way that Indian land passes as a “joint tenancy in common.” If a person devises interests in the same parcel to more than one person, unless there is language in the will to the contrary, it is presumed to be a joint tenancy with the right of survivorship, meaning that each of a decedent’s heirs share a common title, so the last surviving member of the group obtains full interest as it was owned by the descendent. Any interest of less than five percent passing by intestate succession will also be held by the heirs with the “right of survivorship.” The secretary of the interior must certify that it has the capacity to track and manage interests that are held with the right of survivorship before this provision takes place.

Addresses descent of off-reservation lands. Provides for the descent and distribution of trust or restricted lands located outside of a reservation. Also provides for the authority of the official authorized to adjudicate probate to approve agreements between a decedent’s heirs and devisees to consolidate interests in such lands.

Requires the secretary to notify Indian tribes and owners of trust or restricted lands of the amendments made in this act with respect to testate disposition, intestate descent, and estate planning options, including opportunities for receiving assistance or advice.

Authorizes owners of interests in trust or restricted lands to bring administrative actions to challenge the application of provisions regarding descent and distribution after the secretary has certified that notice on the amendments of this act has been made to tribes and landowners. Permits judicial review of the secretary’s final decision.

Gives authority to the secretary to acquire factional interests in trust or restricted lands, with owner consent and at fair market price. The secretary may give priority to the acquisition of fractional interests representing two percent or less of a parcel of trust or restricted land, especially those interests that would have escheated to a tribe but for Babbitt v. Youpee.

At the request of any Indian person who owns at least five percent of the undivided interest in a parcel of trust or restricted land, the secretary shall convey an interest acquired under this section to the Indian landowner upon payment by the Indian landowner of the amount paid for the interest by the secretary. 

Provides for tribal administration of acquired fractional interest and the disposition of proceeds from leases, resource sales, rights of way or other transactions affecting interests in trust or restricted lands. Sets out conditions for such administration.

Grants authority to the secretary to develop a system for establishing the fair market value of various types of lands and improvements of interests in trust or restricted lands.

Establishes an acquisition fund.

Allows the sale or other exchange of interests in trust or restricted lands, including a prohibition on termination of trust or restricted status on land conveyed for less than fair market value until five years after approval of conveyance.

Requires reports from the secretary to specified congressional committees on fractional interests in trust or restricted lands acquired and the impact on Bureau of Indian Affairs financial realty recordkeeping systems.

Authorizes the secretary to approve leases, rights of way, and sales of natural resources affecting individually owned trust or restricted lands based upon the consent of specified percentages of the owners concerned (with decreasing percentages required the greater number of owners).

Requires the secretary to provide for estate planning assistance to Indian landowners. 

States that this act is inapplicable to land located in Alaska.

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