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The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA) devised a land entitlement system markedly different from the Indian reservation system that prevailed in the Lower 48 states. It directed the creation of twelve, for-profit Alaska Native regional corporations and over 200 private, for-profit Alaska Native village corporations, which would receive the bulk of Native land in the state. This corporate model left nearly all tribes in Alaska without a land base. As such, there is very little Indian Country land in the state over which tribes can exercise territorial-based sovereignty. Yet, the Supreme Court has long recognized the power of tribes to exercise membership-based jurisdiction. This Comment analyzes a range of state and federal court decisions addressing the authority of tribes and argues that Alaska tribes, through membership-based jurisdiction, can exercise various sovereign powers, like the exclusion of nonmembers. Importantly, this membership-based jurisdiction does not depend on lands over which tribes can exercise jurisdiction. Therefore, the exclusionary orders imposed by several Alaska Native tribes during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 were valid exercises of the tribes' sovereign powers.
Mitchell Forbes, Beyond Indian Country: The Sovereign Powers of Alaska Tribes Without Reservations, 40 Alaska Law Review 171-188 (2023)
Available at: https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/alr/vol40/iss1/7