Solicitor’s Memorandum on AK Land into Trust and the Approval of CCTHITA’s Land into Trust Acquisition


The Biden Administration has gone back and formally cleaned up the mess created by the Trump administration’s M-opinion on land into trust in Alaska. Don’t just take my word for it–the introduction of the m-opinion is quite clear about what happened.

And then the Administration started what will hopefully be many more approvals to come regarding land into trust acquisitions in Alaska by approving the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska’s acquisition. This is only the second application to go through (the first was also in Southeast for the Village of Craig on Prince of Wales Island).

An excellent announcement for a Friday afternoon!

Dear Tribal Leader Letter Regarding Alaska Land into Trust Consultations

Here. The letter is dated July 2–sorry for the delay in posting.

Public Meeting
Wednesday, August 1, 2018
1 :00 p.m. -3:00 p.m.
Juneau, AK

Tribal Consultation
Friday, August 3, 2018
1 :00 p.m. -3 :00 p.m.
Ketchikan, AK

ANC Consultation
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
1:00 p.m. -3:00 p.m.
Anchorage, AK

Tribal Consultation
Sunday, October 21, 2018
1 :00 p.m. -3 :00 p.m.
Anchorage, AK

Tribal Consultation
Wednesday, December 5, 2018
1:00 p.m. -3:00 p.m.
Bethel, AK

Tribal Consultation
Friday, December 7, 2018
1:00 a.m. -3:00 p.m.
Kotzebue, AK

Tribal Consultation
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
1:00 p.m. -3:00 p.m.
Tel: 877-716-4291
Passcode: 6919058

If you would like to provide written input, please email your comments to by midnight Eastern Standard Time on December 20, 2018.

Withdrawal of Solicitor’s Opinion Regarding Land into Trust for Alaska Tribes

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.

Picayune Rancheria Files Complaint Against DOI to Stop Off Reservation Gaming

Download complaint here.

Link to news coverage here.

BIA Issues Land into Trust Decision for Mashpee Wampanoag


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn today issued a decision approving a request by the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe to acquire 170 acres of land into trust in the town of Mashpee, Mass., for tribal governmental, cultural and conservation purposes, and 151 acres in trust in the City of Taunton, Mass., for the purpose of constructing and operating a gaming facility and resort. The lands in both Mashpee and Taunton will become the tribe’s first lands held in trust.

Land into Trust Gaming Application for Mechoopda Tribe Approved

And another here.

WASHINGTON, DC – Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn today approved a request by the Mechoopda Indian Tribe of Chico Rancheria to acquire 626 acres in trust in Butte County, California, near the City of Chico for gaming purposes. The Mechoopda Tribe will construct and operate a modest gaming facility on 91 acres of the site. The project is estimated to create 214 full-time jobs.

“The Mechoopda Tribe has pursued this initiative for more than a decade,” Washburn said. “The acquisition of the land into trust for the purpose of establishing a class III gaming establishment will result in substantial financial benefits to the Tribe and help stimulate economic development.”

Decision will be published here.