Real Estate and Other Rights Protection

Real Estate

  • This program supports the Tribes goal of Serving Our Tribal Communities by fulfilling the responsibilities of improving Indian trust ownership. 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 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 land, acquisition of land for and/or other real properties for use by the Tribe required pursuant to the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (P.L.93-638). Land is acquired through the private sector. Some of the major cases processed are:
  • Fee-to-Trust cases which involve off reservation properties
  • Trust-to-Fee that involves conveyances from the Tribe to a non-Indian(s) and/or entity
  • Acquisitions and transfer from federal agencies and/or 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

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.

Tribal Rights

This program element supports the Tribes goal of serving the tribal community by fulfilling trust responsibilities. A portion of this program element (Water Rights Negotiation/Litigation Program) is administered within the Branch of Water Resources at the BIA Eastern Region Office level. Under the Tribal Rights Program, tribal staff provides advice and offers technical assistance to elected officials, tribal members and other tribal staff in various tribal rights issues. Funds under this program are also provided pursuant to Public Law 93-638, as amended. Department staff consult and cooperate with other agencies involved in negotiating or litigating the tribes water rights; establishing and/or protecting tribal treaty hunting, fishing and gathering rights; addressing issues concerning trespass on trust lands; protecting tribal cultural resources; natural resource damage claims; and addressing other unresolved land management issues. The functions performed by program personnel depend on the services and technical expertise required by the Tribe within the jurisdiction of the office that is not available in other programs. The staff may also be requested to assist in preparing applications for funding from the Bureau’s Attorney Fees and Litigation Support programs.

Land Use Ordinance

The Real Estate office works closely with the Tribal Planning Board to ensure compliance of the Land Use Ordinance that was passed by the tribe in the General Election on July 23, 2011. Please visit the Tribal Planning Board’s page for more information about the Land Use Ordinance.

Housing Improvement Program (HIP)

The objective of the BIA Housing Improvement Program is to assist the neediest of the needy Indian families who have absolutely no other recourse for housing assistance (documented proof required to qualify), in the immediate or near future, in attaining a decent, safe and sanitary living environment. 


HIP is a home repair, renovation and replacement program administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and federally recognized Indian Tribes. The purpose of this safety net program is to provide assistance to needy Indian families living in or near reservation communities within approved tribal service areas, who have limited resources and who are otherwise unable to obtain assistance from other housing programs. The Department of Housing & Urban Development has primary responsibility for new housing for low income families in Indian communities, while the emphasis of the HIP is on repair, renovation and replacement of existing housing.

Eligibility- a HIP grant recipient must be a member of a Federally-recognized American Indian tribe or Alaskan Native village; and, be living in an approved tribal service area; and, have an annual income that does not exceed 125% of the Department of Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines.


Persons in family/household

Poverty guideline

















For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $4,020 for each additional person

*Your family cannot have more income than shown in the table above based on your family size*


Interim Improvements – the program provides up to $2,500 in housing repairs for conditions that threaten the health and/or safety of the occupants.

Repairs and Renovation- the program provides up to $35,000 in repairs or renovation to improve the condition of a homeowners dwelling to meet applicable building code standards.  

Replacement and Housing- this program provides for a modest replacement home if the homeowner’s dwelling after a full inspection cannot be brought to applicable building code standards within the cost limitation cited for repairs and renovation ($35,000); or, if you do not own a home, but have ownership or at the minimum a 25 year lease of sufficient land suitable for housing.

Need more information or interested in applying? Contact Denise Williams, Real Estate Director at 366-4792 Final deadline for 2015 funding is September 30, 2014.  Download a copy of the application here: HIP Program Application