P.L. 280 and Alaska Tribes Tribal Transportation Conference September 2014 Prepared by Lisa Jaeger Tribal Government Specialist Tanana Chiefs Conference Fairbanks 1-800-478-6822 [email protected]
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“It’s often said that Alaska is unique in terms of federal Indian law, my own view is that all Native Americans are unique, each individual Native American nation is unique. Its own history, its own culture, its own relationship with the United States. And so to say that Alaska is unique is nothing more than saying Pueblos are unique, or the Navajo’s are unique, they are, and that ought to be acknowledged.”
1988 : Alaska Supreme Court decided that there were no tribes in Alaska except for Metlakatla and possibly a few others (Stevens Village Management case)
1986, 1987, and 1992: Native Village of Nenana v. Dept. of Health and Human Services, In re K.E., In re F.P., In re W.M. (Alaska Court System)…even if there were tribes in Alaska, Public Law 280 terminated any tribal jurisdiction tribes might have had.
1989: Nome Eskimo Community Case, Alaska Supreme Court ruled that land can’t be taken away from an entity organized under the Indian Reorganization Act.
1991: Blatchford v. Native Village of Noatak and Circle Village. US Supreme Court ruled against Noatak and Circle requests for state revenue sharing, but did not review the part of the case from the lower court that decided that both Noatak and Circle were both tribes.
1993: List of federally recognized tribes issued to make it clear that the tribes in Alaska were indeed tribes and were to be given the “same privileges and immunities’ as Lower 48 tribes
1994: Confirmed by Congress through the Tribal List Act.
Tribal courts in the TCC Region continued to conduct child custody and child protection cases, even experiencing some cooperation from state agencies. From somewhere in the 1990s, the number of children in custody began to run around ½ in tribal custody, and ½ in state custody. (currently around 150 child protection cases in each).
Some tribal courts were/are also addressing misdemeanors in a civil manner, domestic violence, banishments, trespass, animal control, alcohol regulation, status offenses, etc.
Child custody disputes and formalizing agreements
Terminating parental rights
Foster home licensing
Alcohol regulation Truancy
Underage drinking Curfew
Trespass Disorderly conduct
Vandalism Misuse of firearms
Theft Traffic – speeding - DUI
Minor assaults Harassment
the tribe, tribal land, and
tribal cultural resources
In spite of the lack of recognition by the State of Alaska, and the State’s insistence that P.L. 280 terminated tribal jurisdiction if tribes did truly survive ANCSA, Alaska tribes pursued exercising their sovereignty in the 1970s and 1980s. It has been by exercising their sovereignty that brought forth the court cases that proved P.L. 280 did not terminate their jurisdiction and that they have jurisdiction over a variety of subjects.