A ruling from a federal judge in Washington, D.C., is a victory for all Alaska tribes, the Native American Rights Fund
said on Tuesday.
In a March 31 decision, Judge Rudolph Contreras
said Alaska tribes can follow the land-into-trust process. He rejected arguments that the Alaska
Native Claims Settlement Act
of 1971 requires Alaska tribes to be treated differently.
"This decision is a victory for all Alaska tribes," NARF said in a press release
. "The ruling will allow Alaska tribes to petition the Secretary to have non-ANCSA lands placed into trust and the opportunity to enhance their ability to regulate alcohol, respond to domestic violence, and generally protect the health, safety, and welfare of tribal members."
The historic decision sets the stage for the Bureau of Indian Affairs
to change its regulations to include Alaska tribes. But since the state of Alaska was allowed to intervene in the case, a trip to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals
From there, the U.S. Supreme Court
could end up hearing the dispute. Incidentally, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.
, as an attorney in private practice, represented Alaska in Alaska
v. Native Village of Venetie
, which held the ANSCA extinguished all Indian Country in the state except for one reservation.
NARF represented the Native Village of Venetie in that case.
District Court Decision:Akiachak
Native Community v. Salazar
(March 31, 2013)
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