ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The state's decision not to appeal a recent federal court ruling will ease the way for Alaska Native communities to put their lands into federal trust.
The practice has long been allowed for Native American tribes in the Lower 48. But Alaska tribes have been barred from seeking trust status for decades under a federal regulation that was based on an interpretation of the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.
That law compensated tribes for the loss of historically used lands and established regional and village Native corporations in the state. It let the corporations select 44 million acres and appropriated them nearly $963 million.
Only separate lands officially owned by tribes will be allowed to qualify for trust status, and it's unclear how much property that amounts to.