Historic: Craig Tribal Association Receives Approval for 1st Federal Land Trust in Alaska
January 16, 2017
This is the first application from Alaska to be approved by DOI since it issued a final revised rule in 2014 expelling the misguided “Alaska exception” that had unfairly excluded Alaska tribes from the fee to trust process. Under federal Indian trust status, Craig Tribal Association’s land parcel, cannot be sold, alienated, or transferred without federal approval. Craig Tribal Association’s parcel is home to its tribal government offices, a town hall, and commercially leased office space.
Prince of Wales Island (Alaska)
Craig Tribal Association’s President Clinton Cook said Friday morning was a historic day for the Craig Tribal Association and all Alaska tribes. Cook said, "The Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, Lawrence Roberts, approved our Tribe’s application to take approximately 1.08 acres of land into trust for our Tribe. This land, which is located within our traditional homelands, is the center of our government."
Cook said, " Alaska tribes have been unfairly left out of the fee to trust process for decades. 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."
Friday's decision ensures that our tribe will have a permanent center for Craig Tribal Association's government and will provide economic development opportunities for their children and grandchildren said Cook.
"Our tribe sincerely appreciates the comments that were submitted by both the State of Alaska and the City of Craig, neither of which opposed the tribe’s application, and looks forward to continuing to work together and build strong partnerships. We commend Assistant Secretary Roberts for all of the hard work that led to his decision to approve our application. We also thank Secretary Jewell for her unwavering commitment to Indian country and supporting the restoration of tribal homelands," said Cook.
According to a news release from Central Council, the ability for Alaska tribes to petition for trust land acquisitions will maximize tribal government resources, eligibility for federal programs and services, and will foster economic development. It will help address public safety and child welfare issues, protect historic homelands and cultural sites, and expand funding for services, education, and housing – above all else it is about Alaska tribes exercising their inherent sovereignty and self-determination.
“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. I look forward to working with President Clinton Cook and the Craig Tribal Council as we continue to advance tribal interest.”
The Craig Tribal Association is located in Southeast Alaska on Prince of Wales Island.
Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
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