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Alaska Native Issues

This page contains links of interest to Alaska Natives as well as others in Alaska.

Supreme Court asks for DOJ views on Alaska ICWA case - The U.S. Supreme Court has asked the Department of Justice for the views of the federal government to help it decide whether to accept Hogan v. Kaltag Tribal Council, a case in which Alaska questions whether federally recognized tribes can resolve Indian Child Welfare Act cases, as reported by Indianz.com on April 26.

In the case, Alaska questions whether federally recognized tribes can resolve Indian Child Welfare Act cases. Attorney General Dan Sullivan believes the state’s court system takes precedence over tribal court judgments. The case involves a mother who was convicted of murder and had a drinking problem. The father did not want anything to do with the child. The Kaltag tribe took custody, and the child was adopted, with the consent of all parties involved, by a Native family that lives in Huslia. But the state’s attorney general, contending that the state’s court system takes precedence over a tribal court, wants to put a stop to it. Indianz.Com. In Print – http://www.indianz.com/News/2010/019465.asp

Learn More About the Case

Supreme Court Order List:
Orders in Pending Cases (April 26, 2010)

9th Circuit Decision:
Kaltag Tribal Council v. Jackson (August 28, 2009)

Related Stories:
Alaska Native ICWA case considered a petition to watch (4/20)
Alaska presses Supreme Court in tribal adoption case (3/11)
Alaska attorney general nominee has Native ties (6/17)
Failed Alaska nominee signed land-into-trust letter (5/11)
Alaska lawmakers reject attorney general nominee (4/17)
Editorial: Bigotry an issue for Alaska attorney general pick (4/16)
Alaska nominee grilled on Native rights issues (4/9)
Editorial: Alaska nominee’s past views not an issue (4/8)
Alaska nominee won’t discuss tribal sovereignty (4/3)
Alaska Natives oppose state attorney general pick (4/1)

Alaska State Court SAMPLE Forms

The Tribal Law and Policy Institute has developed the following Alaska State Court Sample Forms to assist Tribes filing interventions in Alaska Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) cases. Forms and Directions are in Microsoft Word format.

  1. Notice of Intervention
  2. Directions - Notice of Intervention
  3. Certificate of Mailing
  4. Directions - Certificate of Mailing
  5. Designation of Tribal Representative
  6. Directions - Designation of Tribal Representative
  7. Substitution of Tribal Representative
  8. Directions - Substitution of Tribal Representative

Community Facilitator's Guidebook - The Tribal Law and Policy Institute announced the release of Pathway To Hope: Healing Child Sexual Abuse at the January 2008 Alaska Native Summit on Child Sexual Abuse which was held in Anchorage, Alaska. The video was developed through funds from the Office for Victims of Crime as a resource to Tribes receiving the Children's Justice Act Partnerships for Indian Communities grants to address child sexual abuse and serious child abuse. This video, which presents the voices of over 40 Native people, many of whom are survivors of child sexual abuse, and the Community Facilitator's Guidebook provide a step by step process for Tribal communities to end silence about child sexual abuse, support child victims and promote healing of those who suffered childhood abuse. The video opens with five different languages spoken by Native elders in Alaska as they give permission and urge attention on the issues of child sexual abuse for the sake of our children. Due to the sensitive issues addressed by the video and the need for guidance in using this product and the Guidebook for community education, we welcome the opportunity to provide onsite training and technical assistance on the use of these products.

Public Law 280 was applied to Alaska upon statehood (January 3, 1959) - see Public Law 280 Resources for more information concerning Public Law 280.

The state of Alaska is divided into four judicial districts. You may Download a Judicial Venue Map or for more information and a full listing of the Revised Venue map and Chart of Communities refer to Criminal Rule (18(a)) on the Courts Website.

Alaska Rural Justice Issues: a Selected Bibliography covers research undertaken in the areas of rural governance, policing, the courts, corrections, juvenile justice, and other areas pertinent to rural Alaska. The volume also includes a monograph discussing rural justice issues as revealed through the research, an index of important Alaska Native legal cases from 1918 to the present, and maps illustrating the Alaska criminal and civil justice system.

National Resource Center for American Indian, Alaska Native & Native Hawaiian Elders published Alaska Native Elders and Abuse: Creating Harmony by Voicing Traditions of Listening which synthesizes extended conversations with Yup'ik/Cup'ik, Athabascan, Aleut, Inupiat, Alutiiq, and Tlingit Elders from across the state. They were asked to express their ideas about the origin of abuse of elderly, and to share ways to reduce and control occurrences of abuse. This report is intended for Western practitioners, Alaska Native health organizations, and those involved in program design and policy making.

The Alaska Native Policy Center (Policy Center) is a project of the First Alaskans Institute created in response to the need for a greater Native voice in the public policy-making process. The mission of the Policy Center is to provide Native leaders with the best available knowledge in order that Alaska Natives be proactively involved in - and influence - the education, economic and social policy issues that impact our future as 21st century indigenous peoples.

When Men Murder Women is an annual analysis of national male on female homicide statistics in single victim/single offender situations. An updated publication is released each year from the Violence Policy Center. The report for 2003 came out in September. “Alaska is number one nationally in per capita domestic violence murder of women--again,” states Judy Cordell, Executive Director of AWAIC, the domestic violence shelter here in Anchorage. Visit the Alaska Center for Public Policy (ACPP) Blog for more information and statistics.

The Alaska ICWA Tribal Directory is available online!

"Indian Country" and the Nature and Scope of Tribal Self-Government in Alaska, by Geoffrey D. Strommer and Stephen D. Osborne
Today Alaska Native tribes face one of their most difficult challenges since the days of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). Ever since the United States Supreme Court ruled in Alaska v. Native Village of Venetie Tribal Government, 522 U.S. 520 (1998), that ANCSA largely extinguished "Indian country" in Alaska, and thus the tribes' territorial jurisdiction, the extent of Alaska tribal sovereignty and authority has been shrouded in uncertainty. Using rural justice and law enforcement as a central example, the authors demonstrate that restoring Indian country to Alaska would promote numerous public policy objectives, benefiting both the tribes and the State.

Resource Guide for Parents, Caregivers, and Service Providers working with Alaska Native Children Adobe Acrobat is required to view this file. is a Resource Guide that was designed to provide useful and practical information, ideas and tips to help with some of the difficult parts of the crime of Child Abuse. In Alaska Native communities, nearly everyone is impacted in some way by child sexual abuse in the past or currently. This Guide provides a way to reach out, share the load and offers information to help with coping, and to support a healing process—whether as a child, a parent or caregiver, a service provider and in the community where people are impacted by child abuse.

Alaska Native Self-Government and Service Delivery: What Works? The Native peoples of Alaska have governed themselves for far longer than either the State of Alaska or the United States. Indeed, their rights of self-government are properly defended as basic human rights that are not unilaterally extinguishable by these other governments. Yet, today an assortment of questions are being raised about key aspects of Alaska Native self-governance.

Domestic Violence and Child Abuse: Ten Lessons Learned in Rural Alaska is a paper which focuses on the impact of domestic violence on child witnesses in Alaska and explores the connection between domestic violence and child abuse; offers recommendations for domestic violence screening in pediatric healthcare settings;, recommends integration of programs serving domestic violence victims, and child protection agencies, and details on Alaska Family Violence Prevention Projects.

Alaska Native Indian Child Welfare Association is the only Alaska tribal child welfare organization focused specifically on engaging active tribal government participation to prevent and respond effectively to the multitude of tribal child welfare issues collaboratively with the state child welfare system and the state court system. ANICWA believes that engaging tribal leaders, tribal child welfare workers and strengthening tribal government capacity strengthen tribal family systems. It is within this scope of concern that the Alaska Native Indian Child Welfare Association endeavors to work and bring about positive change. Mission Statement illustrate the purpose and focus of the Association, "ANICWA strives to ensure that Native children and families who are "Children in Need of Aid" under State Child Protective Services, State Courts or Tribal Child Welfare systems are provided professional, unbiased service and the highest standard of care."

Victims for Justice, a small, non-profit agency provides a variety of services to residents of Alaska whose lives have been affected by violent crime, including:

  • Crisis Intervention services to those experiencing violence through crime or whose family member has died as a result of a violent crime.
  • Specialized Grief Education and Support Services available through peer groups or individual support.
  • Advocacy and Support throughout the law enforcement, criminal justice and medical systems.
  • Court Accompaniment and information about the criminal justice process for survivors and victims during the trial proceedings.
  • Private Remembrance Ceremonies for the family of victims at the Victims' Tree and the Victims' Memorial Monument.
  • Information and referral about other providers and professional organizations.

The Office of Victims' Rights is an agency of the Alaska Legislature that provides free legal services to victims of crime to help them obtain the rights they are guaranteed under the Alaska constitution and statutes with regard to their contacts with police, prosecutors, judges, and other criminal justice agencies in this state, as well as to advance and protect those victim rights in court when necessary and authorized by law.

Native Entities Within the State of Alaska Recognized and Eligible to Receive Services From the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs 2002.

Alaska Native Villages / Alaska Native Tribes is a comprehensive directory of federally recognized Alaska tribes from the American Indian Heritage Foundation.

In March 1999, the Alaska Judicial Council issued a Directory of Dispute Resolution in Alaska Outside Federal and State Courts that presents an overview of Alaska dispute resolution entities other than state and federal courts, including tribal courts, tribal councils that address individual legal matters, youth courts, community courts, alternative dispute resolution programs, and state and municipal programs. Tribal councils and tribal courts in both rural and urban communities may address such matters as child in need of aid cases, adoptions, property, and minor criminal matters.

Tribal Court Development - Alaska Tribes is a comprehensive guide for Alaska Tribal Court Development developed by the Tanana Chiefs Conference. It includes chapters on (1) an historical perspective on Alaska tribal courts; (2) tribal court jurisdiction; (3) tribal court structures; (4) tribal court procedures; (5) subject matter for tribal courts; (6) tribal youth court development; (7) judicial ethics; (8) tribal court management issues; (9) enforcement of tribal court decisions; and (10) sample tribal court ordinances.

The mission of the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) is to enhance and promote the cultural, economic and political voice of the entire Alaska Native community. AFN's major goals are to (1) advocate for Alaska Native people, their governments and organizations, with respect to federal, state and local laws; (2) foster and encourage preservation of Alaska Native cultures; (3) promote understanding of the economic needs of Alaska Natives and encourage development consistent with those needs; (4) protect, retain and enhance all lands owned by Alaska Natives and their organizations; and (5) promote and advocate for programs and systems which instill pride and confidence in individual Alaska Natives.

University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Center is an academic, research, and public education program serving Alaska. The Justice Center is responsible for the collection of University of Alaska Anchorage crime and arrest statistics, and it produces and distributes throughout the state the quarterly Alaska Justice Forum, which presents studies and explores issues related to crime and the administration of justice. The Center has a very extensive web site and is an excellent source for information on Alaska Natives and American Indians.

AFN Implementation Study Proposals to the United States Congress to implement recommendations of the Alaska Natives Commission pursuant to P.L. 104-270, Alaska Federation Of Natives, December 1999.

The Alaska Natives Commission (the Joint Federal-State Commission on Policies and Programs Affecting Alaska Natives) was created by Congress in 1990 at the urging of Alaska Native groups, and was jointly funded by the federal government and the State of Alaska.

  • Volume I: Healing, Harmony, Hope contains the essence of the Alaska Native Commission's findings. It documents physical, social, and economic changes that have occurred over the past two centuries which affect Alaska Natives; provides the commission's fundamental recommendations in key issue areas; and presents key statistical facts and findings of the commission.
  • Volume II includes the results of studies conducted by the commission in the areas of Alaska Native physical health; social and cultural issues and the alcohol crisis; economic issues and rural economic development; Alaska Native education; and Self-governance and Self-determination, including justice, law enforcement, and corrections.
  • Volume III contains the full text of two separate studies conducted by the commission in the areas of Alaska Native subsistence and Alaska Native tribal government, condensed forms of which are found in Volume I.
  • The Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) commissioned this report, Alaska Natives Commission, Final Report, in 1998 to follow up on the finding of the Alaska Natives Commission on the need for Native self-governance in Native communities. The report examines forms of self-governance presently in use in Alaska Native villages and describes several models of self-governance.

The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, enacted in 1971, is one of the most important pieces of Congressional legislation affecting Alaska. The legislation determines the ownership of almost all Alaska lands; it involves hundreds of millions of dollars, and it resulted in the creation of over 180 new and special corporations. Further, it influenced the development of over 80 million acres of new Federal parks, preserves and monuments in Alaska. Land ownership and land use in Alaska remain contemporary issues, as various interest groups try to resolve claims and legal interpretations through the court system.

Revisiting the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), by the Alaska Native Curriculum and Teacher Development Project (ANCTD), presents a very extensive series of Newspaper Articles, essays, and video instruction guides on the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and the 1991 Amendments to the Act.

What Rights to Land Have the Alaska Natives?: The Primary Question, by William L. Hensley (May 2001 Introduction), traces the general development of the controversy since the acquisition of the Alaska Territory in 1867 and attempts to clarify the issues (What are the rights of the Alaskan Natives to the property and resources upon which they have lived since time immemorial?) through the presentation of court rulings, Interior Department decisions, and Congressional acts, and indicates more recent developments which appear to be leading up to a final solution of the problem.

Alaska v. Native Village of Venetie Tribal Government, et al.
522 U.S. 520 (1998)
Decided February 25, 1998: Syllabus | Opinion
In an action challenging the authority of the Native Village of Venetie to impose taxes on the conduct of business activities on tribal lands, the U.S. Supreme Court holds the term "dependent Indian communities" as employed in the 18 U.S.C. 1151 definition of "Indian country" refers to a limited category of Indian lands that are neither reservations or allotments and that satisfy two requirements: (1) the lands must have been set aside by the United States for the use of the Indians as Indian lands; and (2) the lands must be under federal superintendence; and concludes that the lands at issue do not constitute Indian country.

Alaska v. Native Village of Venetie Tribal Government: Redefining Indian Country, by Warren Denetsosie
In Alaska v. Native Village of Venetie Tribal Government, the United States Supreme Court finally settled the meaning of the phrase “dependent Indian community” which is one of the three prongs of “Indian country”. However, the Supreme Court’s recent interpretation is unwelcome to Indian tribes for the reason that land over which tribes previously asserted sovereign authority can now be found to be outside their jurisdiction and within state control.

Indian Country: Two Destinies, One Land by the Anchorage Daily News, is a series of stories run over five days in July 1997. The stories examine the Venetie "Indian Country" case, the Yupiit Nation confederation in Western Alaska, the Indian Child Welfare Act, and other Native sovereignty issues in Alaska.

The Alaska Law Review provides an annual year-in-review of significant court decisions and legislative changes as well as scholarly articles in many areas such as natural resources law, environmental law, land use planning, economic development, and Native American rights.

The Alaska Native Curriculum and Teacher Development Project (ANCTD) brings together teams of teachers, elders, and community members in various parts of Alaska with university-based specialists to develop curricula on Alaska Native studies and language that is available to all schools through the internet or on CD. The project is supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

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