The Prairie Band Potawatomi, along with the Citizen Potawatomi, were initially established in Kansas on 576,000 acres of land, due to actions of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Within 40 years, that area was reduced to the present day 77,357 acres, 13% of its former size. With the Dawes Act of 1887, a portion of the land was “allotted” to each tribal member, leaving no lands held in common.
It took over 80 years before the PBP Nation was able to re-establish common land holdings. In 1969, the Nation purchased four tracts of land, totaling 250 acres. Since then the Nation has slowly accumulated more tracts as they work toward the overarching goal of re-acquiring reservation lands.
In 2018, the Tribal Land Office purchased five new properties of crop, pasture and timber, increasing the tribe’s land mass by 437.50 acres. In addition, 71 acre-equivalents of undivided interests in US Trust land were also purchased. Along with purchasing land, a total of 680.55 acres have made application for the fee-to-trust process.
Today the Nation’s land mass currently consists of 35,447 acres. The Nation combined with individual tribal members hold 43.6% of the land within the 11 by 11 mile boundary of the reservation, along with an additional 1,744 acres outside of the reservation as illustrated in the chart below.
Steve Duryea, Tribal Land Planner is tasked with managing the Nation’s land assets under the direction of the Tribal Council. Duryea is responsible for fee and trust land purchases, coordinating the purchase of undivided interests in trust lands along with developing and executing the Nation’s fee-to-trust applications and maintaining all records and necessary documentation of the Nation’s land holdings.
Duryea transitioned into the Tribal Land Office in 2011. He began his employment with the Nation in 2003, and has also worked for the Fire and Planning and Environmental Protection departments. In 2015, Duryea wrote a land consolidation plan to expedite the land acquisition process. The plan has since been adopted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and allows for the buying and selling of trust lands by the Nation directly, although the Nation has never sold land nor does it intend to. Most importantly, the plan opens an avenue for the Nation to trade land with allotment owners. In such a trade arrangement, the land must be appraised and the process requires oversight by the BIA and final approval by the PBPN Tribal Council.
A couple of other relatively new tasks of the Tribal Land Office are to administer commercial business site leases and to act as the recording office for mortgages on tribal trust lands. Most lending institutions will not lend money to homeowners on trust land because the land cannot be used as collateral unlike regular fee land. However, the BIA will do a lease loan. More information regarding these functions can be referenced in the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Tribal Law and Order Code, under Title 20: Mortgage Lending Act and Title 31: Business Site Leasing Ordinance, available on www.pbpindiantribe.com.
The Tribal Land Office is located at the Government Center, on the upper level. The office can be reached by phone at 785-966-3928.