A day after Tara Sweeney, an Executive Vice President of Arctic Slope Corporation, was appointed as the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, the Department of Interior Solicitor’s Office withdrew a previous opinion regarding the authority of the government to take land into trust for Alaska Natives pending a (you guessed it) notice and comment period:
The Department allowed only 60 days for comment when it proposed removing the Alaska exclusion from its trust land acquisition regulations in 2014. That is in stark contrast to the three years the Department proposed in 2001 to consider the legal and policy implications of removing the Alaska exclusion. Based on the geographical distribution and cultural diversity of Alaska Native communities, a minimum of six months would seem appropriate to provide adequate notice and a meaningful opportunity to comment on the Secretary’s exercise of his authority to take off-reservation land into trust in Alaska and the issues left unresolved by Sol. Op. M-37043, followed by a further six months to allow the Department to conduct a considered review of any and all comments received.
Twitter coverage of this from Indianz on Friday is here.
The Teller Aklaqs Girls Basketball Team made their first appearance ever at the 2014 Alaska School Activities Association’s 1A State Basketball Championship. They finished in 4th place. Congratulations on a great season team! We hope to see you back at state next year.
*Aklaq = Grizzly Bear in Inupiaq
The Alaska Native Subsistence Co-Management Demonstration Act of 2014 proposes a new co-management structure in the Ahtna region. The new structure would include tribal officials in the management of the land and resources, replacing the current dual federal and state management structure.
The House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs will hold a hearing on the Act March 14, 2014, 11:00 am (EST). The hearing will be available online here.
AFN has released an overview video to explain some of the complexities of protecting subsistence rights and the strength of co-management here.
Ahtna, Inc. has also released a video here.
Bob Anderson has posted his paper, “Alaska Native Rights, Statehood, and Unfinished Business,” published in the Tulsa Law Review, on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Alaska Native aboriginal rights to land and associated resources were never dealt with in a comprehensive fashion until 1971, when Congress passed the Alaska Native Lands Claims Settlement Act. Although general principles of federal Indian law provided strong support for the proposition that Alaska’s Native people held aboriginal title to much of the new state, the Alaska Statehood Act itself carefully disclaimed any effect on aboriginal title. This approach was in keeping with the Congress’s past dealings with Alaska Native property rights. This article outlines the history of Alaska Native aboriginal rights through the Statehood Act along with their post-statehood treatment in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. The article closes with a look at the unsatisfactory treatment of two important aboriginal rights – access to fish and game and tribal sovereignty – and suggests that these areas should be revisited in consultation with Alaska Native peoples.