Alaska Natives win land rights case in federal court

    Alaska Native communities will now be able to have their land placed in federal trust after securing a victory in federal appeals court that could provide them with more federal funding to enforce criminal and civil laws.

    FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Native communities will now be able to have their land placed in federal trust after securing a victory in federal appeals court that could provide them with more federal funding to enforce criminal and civil laws.

    Attorney Heather Kendall-Miller told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner many Alaska Native communities desperately need the aid that comes with a land trust designation. She says it will help with enforcement of liquor laws.

    The state had appealed a federal district court ruling in favor of Alaska Native communities that challenged the Department of Interior's interpretation of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. The ruling struck down a decadeslong department rule that barred it from putting Alaska Native land in trust.

    The federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. determined Friday that the state's argument for an appeal was moot because the federal rule no longer existed.

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