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Frequently Asked Questions


I want the land back, how do I go about doing that? 

One of the controversies surrounding the White Earth Land Settlement Act was the fact that the land would NOT be restored to individuals.  Instead, the Act consists of three major components: 

1) When a valid claim has been determined, the Issue Number, the allotment number, the name of the allottee, and the legal description are published in the Federal Register.  When this has taken place, it means, that according to Section 6(a) of the Act, “…Congress hereby does approve and ratify any such transfer effective as of the date of said transfer….”.  Monetary compensation is then provided to the present day living heirs of the original allottee whose allotment has been determined to be a valid claim under the Act.   

2) 10,000 acres of state land to be transferred from the State of Minnesota to the White Earth Band. 

3) $6.6 million dollars to the White Earth Band for economic development.

If you want the land back, you will need to locate the current owner and learn if he or she wants to sell their land to you.

Who owns the property now?

WELSA is only concerned with the first date of transfer that constitutes whether the allotment is a valid claim or not.  We do not track property ownership.  To find out who owns the property you are interested in, you should contact the County Recorder’s Office or the County Auditor’s Office in the county where the property is located.

The Becker County Courthouse is located in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota 
The Clearwater County Courthouse is located in Bagley, Minnesota 
The Mahnomen County Courthouse is located in Mahnomen, Minnesota

How much will my check be for?

The amount of monetary compensation is based on several variables.  The variables include:

1) What the land was appraised at on the date of transfer

2) When the date of transfer occurred

3)  If there is a deduction based on the consideration listed on the Warranty Deed or Mortgage

4) How many heirs share in the monetary compensation

When will I get my check?

If you are determined to be an heir who is due monetary compensation, it depends on when the Order Determining Heirs you are listed on is considered Final.  A Notice of Monetary Compensation will be sent to you.  According to a 1997 decision by a U.S. District Court Judge, each heir who receives a Notice of Monetary Compensation is required to have 180 days to decide if he or she agrees with the information listed on the Notice of Monetary Compensation.

If the heir does NOT agree, he or she files suit in U.S. District Court.    If the heir agrees, he or she signs the Compensation Award letter and returns it to the WELSA Project Office in Bemidji, Minnesota. 

When the WELSA Project Office receives the signed Compensation Award letter, the information is encoded into our Heirship Database and the check will be issued at the end of the sixth month after you were sent the Notice of Monetary Compensation.

Why can’t you just write me out a check from your office in Bemidji?

The funds for providing monetary compensation under the WELSA Act are from the United States Treasury.  This is a process with the United States Government, and therefore requires many steps to transfer the information from the WELSA Office to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Minnesota Agency to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Midwest Regional Office to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Central Office in Washington, D.C.  Once the information arrives in the Central Office, the information is then transferred to the United States Department of Treasury.  At the present time, monetary compensation checks are issued from the Treasury Office in San Francisco, California.

Once I receive my check, is that the last time I will get money from WELSA?  Or will I get paid again?

Every time an heir inherits, he or she receives a Notice of Monetary Compensation and therefore is due an amount of monetary compensation.    It is possible to inherit more than once, but it is not a common occurrence.  It depends on who you are inheriting from, and if they inherit from someone different than the first time.  Since only a portion of the claims have been processed for compensation, it is not possible for this office to determine for certain if a present day living heir will receive monetary compensation more than once. 

If an heir does inherit more than once, do not expect to receive the same amount as your first monetary compensation check. 

Why did my relatives receive monetary compensation checks, and my siblings and I did not?

The White Earth Reservation was initially divided into 5,178 original allotments. A person who met the requirements and was born on or before July 21, 1900 received an allotment. If a person was born after July 21,1900 he or she did not receive an allotment. 

This has resulted in several instances where a person has called the WELSA office, wanting to know why his or her cousins were receiving money from WELSA and they were not.  After completing initial research, it turns out that the person inquiring had an aunt or uncle who was born before July 21, 1900, and their own mother or father was born after this date.  Because of the difference in birth dates, their aunt or uncle had an allotment, which turned out to be a claim under WELSA, but since their own parent was born after July 21, 1900, there would not be an allotment to research.

I am sixteen years old.  How come I did not get a check from WELSA and my siblings did?

Although Section 14 of the Act includes the statement, “The Secretary shall give priority in making compensation determinations and payments under this Act to original allottees and elderly heirs”; there have been cases where a Final Order Determing Heirs includes an heir who is under the age of eighteen.

Usually, the heir waits until he or she turns eighteen years of age.  A Notice of Monetary Compensation Due is sent to the heir.  When the Compensation Award letter is signed on their eighteenth birthday or after, the monetary compensation due to that person will be issued.  Please note that the amount of monetary compensation due to someone who is a minor earns interest until the very date the check is issued. 

We have had cases where a Guardianship is obtained for the minor and the monetary compensation is issued to the Guardian without waiting until the heir is eighteen years of age. 

Is the money ever going to run out? 

As stated above, the monetary compensation funds are from the United States Treasury.  Contrary to rumors that have been circulating since the inception of the Act, the monetary compensation funds were not given to the White Earth Band to distribute.  

My ________________(insert name of parent, grandparent, or great grandparent) was not a mixed blood!  Why are you saying that?!

Two blood rolls exist for the people who were allotted land on the White Earth Reservation.  They are referred to as the 1910 Blood Roll and the 1920 Blood Roll.  Since the 1920 Blood Roll was signed by a U.S. District Court Judge, we are required to use it, as specified in Section 3 (a) and (c) of the Act.

Do I have to be enrolled as a White Earth Band Member to receive the monetary compensation due to me?

No, you do not.  The WELSA Act states monetary compensation is due to the present day living heirs of the allottee who have a valid claim on his or her allotment.  The WELSA project uses the Minnesota State Laws of Inheritance that were in effect on March 24, 1986 (the date of the WELSA Act).  The laws used for determining heirs does not delineate between enrolled members and those who are not.

Why haven't I received my money! My name is listed on the probate! Some of the others were paid, where's mine?

Look at the information you received from the Office of Hearing and Appeals.  There are two documents: a Notice of Final Order Determining Heirs and a Final Order Determining Heirs.  If your name is listed on the Final Order Determining Heirs and has a fractionated interest behind it, you have been determined to be an heir of the deceased and will receive the required documents for the compensation process.

However, if you see your name and address only on the Notice of Final Order Determining Heirs, it means that the Office of Hearings and Appeals is informing you that the Final Order Determining Heirs has been completed because you are a "party in interest".  Look at the Final Order.  Do you have parent or grandparent (or other person you might inherit from) listed as an heir of the deceased?  Is your parent or grandparent (or other person you might inherit from) deceased?  Then a Final Order Determining Heirs must be completed for their estate before you may be listed as an heir.

Contact Us: 1-888-760-6222 or (218) 751-6619

WELSA accepts no liability for the content of this website, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.

The White Earth Land Settlement Act - PDF