From a Politico article entitled Sorry, Ranchers, You’re Actually Big-Time Government Moochers:
[L]egislation granting statehood to other territories in the 19th and 20th centuries—stipulates that its Legislature “forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands.” In fact, the land that these ranchers call their own belongs to the entire country—to school teachers in New York and shipbuilders in Virginia as much as to ranchers in Oregon.
What’s more, the West has historically been a beneficiary of the U.S. government, not a victim. You won’t hear any of this from Bundy or from elected officials who mimic his argument, if not his lawlessness.
The real story is one of a niche interest group (ranchers and their allies) that feels entitled to a federal handout—potentially one of the largest in American history—at the expense of residents of East Coast, Midwest and Southeast states.
...From the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 and the Oregon Treaty of 1846, to the Mexican Cession (1848), Gadsden Purchase (1853) and Alaska Purchase (aka Seward’s Folly, 1867), the vast majority of federal lands were paid for by the blood, tax dollars, deeds and misdeeds of residents of all the United States.
In fact, the only meaningful swath of territory the federal government obtained directly from states was roughly 233 million acres that New York, Virginia, Massachusetts and Connecticut agreed to cede to Congress. Congress, in turn, created the Northwest Territory, out of which it later carved out today’s Midwestern states. (New York and Virginia to Ohio and Illinois: you’re welcome.).