Governor Bill Walker was in Akiachak and Tuluskak Tuesday to discuss a lawsuit involving tribal lands into trust, according to officials in Akiachak. Walker’s office kept his first visit to southwest Alaska since his election low profile amid high interest in a case that could reshape jurisdiction on Alaska Native lands.
The Governor was traveling Wednesday on the North Slope where he was talking with other tribes about trust lands and was unavailable for comment. Press Secretary Katie Marquette says Walker is reaching out to tribes like those in Southwest Alaska.
“…To talk to them about lands into trust issues, he has additional meetings across with other tribes in villages across the state to continue to talk about land into trust issues,” said Marquette.
The Department of the Interior announced new rules last year to allow Alaska tribes to put land into trust. Alaska Native leaders say the change, after years of litigation, brings them one step closer to self-determination.
The state has fought the issue over the years. Walker inherited the 2013 lawsuit from the Parnell administration. Most recently, Governor Walker asked earlier this year, for a six-month delay in the case. The state is not talking about its plans now, but Akiachak officials say the Governor wants another six months.