Working Effectively with Tribal Governments

Introduction to Tribal Concepts

Fee Land

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The term "fee land" refers to a parcel located within a reservation's exterior boundaries whose title is owned in fee simple. One attribute of "fee simple" land status means the parcel can be sold without U.S. government approval. Many fee lands are owned by non-tribal members, often a result of the allotment policies discussed later in this module. However, fee lands are defined as such because of the status of their title, not the race of their owners. While reservation fee lands are not held in trust by the U.S. government, they are still considered to be Indian country.

The New Mexico Pueblos hold their lands in fee simple as a result of historic Spanish grants, but the Supreme Court has held that these lands are nevertheless Indian Country and cannot be sold without the approval of the U.S. government. The Pueblo lands are administered by the federal government as reservations.

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