Law
Alaska Republicans seek review of tribal status
The top Republicans in the Alaska Legislature have asked Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to review the legal status of the state's 200-plus tribes.

A letter from House Speaker John Harris and Senate President Lyda Green cites "profound policy consequences" created by tribal sovereignty. They refer to the tribes in Alaska as "purported" tribes.

The Legislature's Bush caucus, which represents many of the remote tribes, criticized the request. "It has been debated, regulated, legislated and litigated over time, with the same result: that Alaska Native tribes exist in Alaska," the group said, The Anchorage Daily News reported.

Back in 2001, Republican leaders asked then-Secretary Gale Norton to review the status of the Alaska tribes. Nothing ever came of the request but it caused trouble for Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who took up the issue through various legislative riders.

Former Indian Affairs assistant secretary Ada Deer, a Clinton appointee, made the administrative decision to recognize the tribes and village governments back in the 1990s.

In her days as an attorney, Norton was hired by Republicans in the Alaska Legislature to help their attempt to overturn the Katie John subsistence rights decision. She was paid about $60,000 for her efforts, for which she hired former employer Mountain States Legal Foundation to help draft legal briefs. She recused herself from subsistence issues when she joined the Bush administration.

Get the Story:
State GOP leaders fight tribal recognition (The Anchorage Daily News 5/4)
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Relevant Links:
Alaska Federation of Natives - http://www.nativefederation.org

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