Alaska AG Withdraws 2004 AG Opinion on Tribal Court Jurisdiction that Conflicted with Alaska SCT Precedent

Here is the letter withdrawing “Jurisdiction of State and Tribal Courts in Child Protection Matters,” 2004 Op. Att’y Gen. No. 1:


The 2004 opinion is here (PDF).

The relevant Alaska precedent — State v. Native Village of Tanana, 249 P.3d 734 — is here:

State v. Native Village of Tanana

Alaska SCT Refuses to Take Jurisdiction over Internal Tribal Governance Matter

Here is the opinion in Healy Lake Village v. Mt. McKinley Bank. An excerot:

Members of Healy Lake Village Tribe who claim to constitute the newly elected tribal council brought suit in superior court against Mt. McKinley Bank after the Bank refused to change the signatory authority on the Tribe’s accounts to reflect the alleged leadership change. A second group of tribal members, who also claim to represent the Tribe based on a competing election, was granted intervention in order to contest the superior court’s jurisdiction. The superior court determined that the fundamental issue in the case was the determination of the legitimate governing body of the Tribe, which was an internal self-governance matter within the Tribe’s retained inherent sovereignty. The superior court dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and the group that brought the initial action now appeals. Because determining the real party in interest would have required the superior court to decide matters solely within the Tribe’s retained inherent sovereignty, we affirm the superior court’s dismissal of the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Interesting Tidbit on AGs Letter re: Carcieri Fix

According to an enterprising law student (not one of ours :)), “the signature on the letter representing the state AGs opposing a Carcieri fix has WAYNE ANTHONY ROSS as Alaska’s signatory.  He was summarily rejected by the Alaska Legislature on April 16, 2009, and definitely was not the AG on April 24 (date of the letter).

Assuming this is true, two questions. First, was Alaska officially represented on the AG letter?; second, what dog does Alaska have in this fight anyway, since DOI doesn’t take land into trust for Alaskan tribes (except one)?