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BIA extends public comments on land-into-trust rule for Alaska






A view of the Akiachak Native Community, the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit that prompted the Obama administration to include Alaska tribes in the land-into-trust process. Photo from Calista Corporation

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has extended the public comment period on the land-into-trust rule for Alaska.

The comment period was due to close yesterday. But it's been extended until July 31, Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn said in a press release, and a notice was published in today's issue of the Federal Register announcing the new date.

The rule was proposed after a federal judge said Alaska tribes cannot be excluded from the land-into-trust process. The BIA had claimed otherwise, citing provisions in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 that were rejected in court.

The Obama administration appealed the judge's decision but withdrew in June. The state of Alaska, however, is fighting the decision.

Judge Rudolph Contreras has told the BIA not to approve any land-into-trust applications in Alaska until the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals resolves the case. Washburn had already said the agency would not do so until the rule is finalized.

Get the Story:
Press Release: Interior Department Extends Deadline for Public Comment on Proposed Rule to Take Land into Trust for Alaska Native Tribes (BIA 7/1)

Federal Register Notices:
Land Acquisitions in the State of Alaska (July 1, 2014)
Land Acquisitions in the State of Alaska (May 1, 2014)

Relevant Documents:
Dear Tribal Leader Letter from Kevin Washburn (April 30, 2014)

District Court Decisions:
Akiachak Native Community v. Jewell (September 30, 2013)
Akiachak Native Community v. Salazar (March 31, 2013)

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