Dear Tribal Leader:
I invite you to participate in a consultation on the legal authority and process for the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) to take land into trust in Alaska. I am enclosing a list of questions to help guide our discussion. This list is certainly not exhaustive and is intended to serve only as the starting point for discussion.
In accordance with President Trump's direction to conduct a review of new and pending regulations and agency statements of general applicability,1 the Department is reviewing M-Opinion 37043 (Sol. Op. M-37043). The Solicitor of the Department issued Sol. Op. M-37043 on January 13, 2017, to assess the Secretary's authority to take land into trust in Alaska under the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA)2 in light of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA)3 and the Supreme Court's decision in Carcieri v. Salazar. 4 On June 20, the Department determined it was necessary to withdraw Sol. Op. M-37043 pending further review and consultation because the M-Opinion fails to fully discuss the possible implications of legislation enacted after AN CSA upon the Secretary's authority to take land into trust in Alaska. Such legislation includes the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA),5 the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA),6 the 1988 amendments to ANCSA,7 and 1994 amendments to the IRA.8
We are interested in your thoughts on the Secretary's exercise of his authority to take land into trust in Alaska and on the issues left unresolved by Sol. Op. M-37043. Consultations will be held with both federally recognized tribes in Alaska and the Alaska Native Corporations, as required by law.9 Additionally, we will hold a public meeting, which will be open to anyone else who may wish to participate in this process.
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