Law | Trust

Decision in Alaska case could reopen land-into-trust regulation





A court decision could force the Bureau of Indian Affairs to reopen its land-into-trust regulation.

The last major changes to 25 CFR Part 151 were developed during the Clinton administration. A final rule was published in January 2001 but the Bush administration held it back and eventually rescinded it in November 2001.

Since then there have been no new efforts to update the regulation. But a decision from a federal judge in Washington, D.C., could force the BIA to review the rule and open the land-into-trust process to Alaska tribes.

"The court will order briefing as to the scope of the remedy in this case: whether it is only the Alaska exception that is deprived of 'force or effect,' or whether some larger portion of the land-into-trust regulation must fall," Judge Rudolph Contreras wrote in the March 31 decision.

A 1978 opinion from the Office of the Solicitor at the Interior Department concluded that Alaska tribes can't follow the land-into-trust process. That opinion was withdrawn in 2001, on the same day the Clinton administration's land-into-trust regulation was published in the Federal Register.

However, the rule left intact the prohibition on Alaska, leading to the lawsuit before Contreras.

Get the Story:
US court expands Alaska Native land, equality rights (Russian Legal Information Agency 4/5)

District Court Decision:
Akiachak Native Community v. Salazar (March 31, 2013)

Federal Register Notices:
Acquisition of Title to Land in Trust (January 16, 2001)
Acquisition of Title to Land in Trust (November 9, 2001)

Related Stories:
NARF calls land-into-trust case 'victory' for all Alaska tribes (4/3)
Judge rules tribes in Alaska can follow land-into-trust process (4/1)
Rep. Young won't support Alaska tribes for land-into-trust fix (03/20)