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Rep. Young won't support Alaska tribes for land-into-trust fix

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs, supports a fix to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar as long as it doesn't include Alaska tribes.

Alaska is home to more than 200 federally recognized tribes. But Young, whose late wife was Alaska Native, said there's a "different standard" in his state.

"I'm not going to undo Alaska, although some people may want me to do it," Young said at a hearing on Tuesday in which he brought up the Carcieri fix. "But I'm not going to do that."

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has declined to approve land-into-trust applications for Alaska tribes ever since the Supreme Court's 1998 decision in Alaska v. Native Village of Venetie. The court held that the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act extinguished all Indian Country in the state except for one reservation.

As a result, many Alaska politicians believe Alaska Natives can't assert sovereignty in the same manner as tribes in the lower 48 states. The issue has impacted the Carcieri fix, with some versions excluding Alaska tribes, and even S.47, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

Young isn't listed as a co-sponsor on Carcieri fix bills that have been introduced so far in the House. However, he said he will work towards passage of a fix as long as it doesn't include tribes in his state.

"I plan on having a bill on the floor. It may not be clean," Young said. "I don't know why anyone has an idea of a clean bill because we have a different standard in Alaska."

Young's comments can be found in the "Q&A Part 4" audio file.

Carcieri Fix Legislation:
H.R.666 | H.R.279

Committee Notice:
Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Oversight Hearing on "Authorization, standards, and procedures for whether, how, and when Indian tribes should be newly recognized by the federal government: Perspective of the Department of the Interior" (March 19, 2013)

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