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Grant to Help Tribes Reclaim Land

November 13, 2002

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ Millions of dollars descended from a railroad mogul’s family was pledged to help tribal members reclaim millions of acres lost to fraud more than a century ago.

The Northwest Area Foundation will grant $20 million over the next decade to the Indian Land Tenure Foundation, which it helped form last year.

The grant, announced Tuesday, was believed to be the largest ever to an Indian-controlled organization, said Karl Stauber, president of the St.-Paul based Northwest Area Foundation.

The group’s money comes from the family of James J. Hill, who ran the tracks of his Great Northern Railway across the Plains and through American Indian land, once wangling special legislation to transfer Montana reservation property to his railroad.

Stauber said the grant was aimed at reducing poverty _ ``a reality for native populations since they were forcibly relocated on the reservations.″

The plan involves ``absolutely some irony,″ Stauber said. ``And some payback. ... Land is a critical cultural, economic and spiritual asset in Indian country,″ he said.

As part of the program, Indian Land Tenure will educate tribal people about land ownership and management, said its president, Cris Stainbrook.


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