Managing Indian Trust Assets

This page provides basic information about Indian trust assets. Covered topics include:

What are Indian trust assets?

An Indian Trust Asset is something the Federal government holds in trust for the benefit of a Native American individual or Tribe. In the case of trust lands, this means that an individual or Tribe earns money when companies lease rights to that land and earn income.

How are Indian Trust Assets acquired?

Indian Trust Assets are inherited, gifted, or received as part of a legal settlement.

How does trust land generate money?

Trust land generates money when a person or company pays for the rights to use that land and profit from that use. Uses include:

  • commercial, industrial, recreational, mineral, or agricultural leases
  • grazing and range permits
  • timber sales and permits
  • rights-of-way uses
  • land sales
  • court judgment or settlement awards

How do I get paid?

We transfer money to your account through direct deposit, debit card, or check. Learn more about choosing how to receive your money.

What leases do I have on my land?

We send quarterly statements to all Individual Indian Money account holders. These statements describe what's happening on your land. Please contact us if you don’t receive your statement or have questions about it.

Trust Assets & Taxes

Income Tax

Most income derived from land held in trust by the U.S. Government is exempt from Federal and state taxation. All interest income, capital gain income, and certain royalties are subject to Federal and state taxes. Read more about income taxes and Individual Indian Money accounts.

Property Tax

Property tax laws vary by state. Most states do not charge property tax on Indian trust land. Check with your state tax agency to see if you need to pay property tax. 

What is fractionated land?

Fractionated land has many owners: sometimes hundreds or even thousands of owners. This happens every time more than one person inherits a land parcel or allotment. For example, an owner dies and their spouse and children then become joint owners. Fractionation increases with each generation. An allotment passed down through many generations may have hundreds or thousands of owners.

What you can do on trust lands

Active Management

You can encourage commercial use of your trust assets by creating a business plan. The Bureau of Indian Affairs must approve all business plans. Contact a regional office to learn more about this process.


You must have a lease agreement to live on or use the land in which you own an interest. Contact your local Tribal government or Bureau of Indian Affairs Realty Office to learn more.

PROTIP: The Native American Direct Loan Program helps Native American veterans get loans to buy, build, or improve homes on trust lands.

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