NARF Staff Attorney Heather Kendall-Miller argues on behalf of Alaska tribes in US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit


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Heather Kendall-Miller

Photo credit: Loren Holmes / AlaskaDispatch.com

Late last week, NARF Staff Attorney Heather Kendall-Miller argued in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in the case Akiachak Native Community, et al. v. Department of Interior, et al. NARF represents Alaska tribes—the Akiachak Native Community, the Chilkoot Indian Association, the Chalkyitsik Village Council, and the Tuluksak Native Community IRA—who challenged the Department of Interior’s previous “Alaska exception” rule which kept the Department from taking lands into trust for Alaska tribes.

On March 31, 2013, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued an important ruling which affirmed the ability of the Secretary of Interior to take land into trust on behalf of Alaska tribes and also acknowledged the rights of Alaska tribes to be treated the same as all other federally recognized tribes. The Department of Interior has since issued regulations authorizing petitions for lands to be taken into trust status on behalf of Alaska Native tribes and individuals, but the State of Alaska decided to continue to fight the case and appealed the case to the D.C. Circuit.

Press about the oral argument can be found at the Alaska Dispatch News website. Interested in listening to the oral argument yourself? It’s available online at the court’s website.