National | Trust

Craig Tribal Association celebrates 'historic' trust land acquisition






The Andrew Hope Building in Juneau, Alaska, owned by the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes, is the subject of another land-into-trust application in Alaska. Photo: Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall

Tribal leaders in Alaska are praising the Obama administration for helping them achieve a land-into-trust milestone.

President Clinton Cook of the Craig Tribal Association called the acquisition of the 1.08-acre site "historic." It covers a building in the city of Craig that houses the tribe's headquarters, a community hall, a Head Start, a business and other programs that provide services to tribal citizens.

"This land, which is located within our traditional homelands, is the center of our government," Cook said in a press release on Friday after being informed of the decision.

The land-into-trust application is the first approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs under a new rule was finalized in December 2014. The regulation reverses a policy, dating to 1971, that barred the BIA from processing applications in the 49th state.

"Alaska tribes have been unfairly left out of the fee to trust process for decades," Cook said. "This decision not only reflects a firm commitment by the United States to move forward in treating Alaska tribes like those in the lower 48 by providing us the same opportunities to exercise tribal self-determination; but recognizes the importance of rebuilding and restoring tribal homelands."

The decision is also being cheered by the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes, whose leaders have submitted an application for a community building and the surrounding parking lot. The site is located in an area of Juneau known as the Juneau Indian Village.

“Gunalchéesh, Háw’aa to Secretary Sally Jewell for her commitment to restoring tribal homelands and congratulations to Craig Tribal Association for their foresight and leadership,” said Central Council President Richard Peterson. “With the Alaska exception removed, we finally have new Indian Country in Alaska – this is great progress for all Alaska tribes.

Forthcoming Federal Register Notice:
Land Acquisitions; Craig Tribal Association, Craig, Alaska (To Be Published January 17, 2017)

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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