Tester meets with leader from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester this week met with Carole Lankford, the Vice Chairwoman of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, to discuss land and wildlife management issues.

Lankford and Tester discussed the U.S. Interior Department’s Land Buy-Back Program, as well as negotiations with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the management of the National Bison Range. On Wednesday, Lankford will testify before Tester’s Senate Indian Affairs Committee regarding the Buy-Back Program.

“Hearing concerns firsthand from Montana’s tribal leaders lets me stay on top of what’s happening in Indian Country,” said Tester, the Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. “Montana tribes have waited too long to reclaim their lands, and I’m looking forward to working with Carole and others from across Indian Country to improve the Land Buy-Back Program and keep the ball rolling on these important land purchases.”

The Land Buy-Back Program stems from the historic 2009 Cobell Settlement. The Program provides funding for the Interior Department to purchase land interests from individual Indians and transfer them to be held in trust for the tribe. Under the current guidelines, the Interior Department has ten years to complete purchases with the Land Buy-Back Program.

Tester previously pushed the Interior Department to work with members of Indian Country to move forward with the Department’s Land Buy-Back Program.