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Native American Trust Land Transfers in Minnesota.

Smith, Laura J.

Most Native American Indian reservations in Minnesota are geographically isolated from major urban centers, and this has resulted in the historic relocation of large numbers of tribal members to the Twin Cities metropolitan area for employment opportunities. Most Minnesota reservations are also faced with extremely high poverty rates among residents. The lack of an internal tax base makes it difficult for Minnesota tribes to invest in badly needed economic development ventures on their lands. In some cases, reestablishment of a tribal land base is necessary before economic development is possible. Native American tribes may reacquire reservation lands that fell out of tribal ownership in the past or tribes may attempt to acquire new lands outside of reservation areas, possibly in more advantageous locations for development such as urban areas. In either situation, tribes may apply to place these lands in trust with the federal government, which produces a range of political and economic consequences for both the tribes and for state and local governments. This article investigates the influence of government policy on the spatial distribution of Native American trust lands in the state of Minnesota, as well as the economic impacts of trust transfers based on location. The author discusses the ongoing conflict between tribes and state and local governments over trust land transfers, and outlines the current policy process for placing lands in trust. The spatial pattern of recent trust transfers is examined and two new trends that will likely impact future locations of trust transfers in Minnesota are discussed.

CURA Reporter
Publication date: 
Minneapolis: Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, University of Minnesota.
Dissertation research was supported in part by a John R. Bordhert Fellowship grant from CURA.
34 (2): 19-25.
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Reporter 34 (2)