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Opinion: Alaska enters a new era with tribes and land-into-trust

Filed Under: Law | Opinion | Trust
More on: alaska, bia, bill walker, byron mallott, land-into-trust
     
   

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I), standing left, and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott (D), standing right, at Celebration, an Alaska Native cultural festival hosted by Sealaska Heritage Institute in June 2016. Photo from Office of Governor Bill Walker

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott (D), who is Tlingit, plan to work with tribes and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to make sure the land-into-trust process reflects the unique needs of the 49th state:
Since we came into office, the topic of tribes placing lands into trust in Alaska has engendered some of the most passionate comments and concerns we have heard on any issue.

Many believe this action will further empower tribes to become more self-sufficient while improving the quality of life throughout rural Alaska — a goal we all share.

Those with strong state's rights convictions are concerned it may weaken state authority and make an already overly complicated fish and game management system more difficult and impact the constitutional requirement of sustained yield.

The reality is, as of Aug. 22, the federal government can take lands into trust in our state under a 2014 adopted federal regulation.

We recognize the validity of many of the concerns we have heard. But instead of litigating a resolution in court no one may be satisfied with, we think it is time to forge a new path forward of dialogue and collaboration to see if we can achieve a resolution that's in the best interests of all Alaskans.

Read More:
Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott: Let's talk, not litigate, over Indian country in Alaska (Alaska Dispatch News 8/27)

D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Decision:
Akiachak Native Community v. Department of the Interior (July 1, 2016)

Federal Register Notices:
Land Acquisitions in the State of Alaska (December 23, 2014)
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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