JANUARY 19, 1968


The case involved 17 million acres taken from southeast Alaska tribes.  Work began on the case in 1929, but it took years to prove both that lands had been taken & their value.  In 1959, the U.S. Court of Claims held that the tribes had established aboriginal title by exclusive use & occupancy from time immemorial, but remanded the case to determine damages.  By its decision, the court allowed damages in the amount of $7.5 million, but the real value was in economic development, creation of governments, and bidding on federal contracts.  The judgement was a pivot point between cash-only settlements of Indian land claims & settlements that return aboriginal lands.  The judgment, which led to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and invalidated a Supreme Court decision holding that the Tlingit did not have 5th Amendment rights for taking of lands by the U.S., was also an assertion of tribal self-determination which led to the Indian Self-Determination and Educational Assistance Act. 

Source:  Tlingit and Haida Indians of Alaska v. United States, 177 F.Supp. 452 (Ct. Cl. 1959) Tlingit and Haida Indians of Alaska v. United States, 389 F. 2d 778 (Ct. Cl., 1968).  Retrieved 6/28/2020, https://www.leagle.com/decision/19681167389f2d7781967 “Pivotal Court Case for Tlingit & Haida Explained,” KINY 800/94.9, 11/1/2019.  Retrieved 6/28/2020, https://www.kinyradio.com/
Seal:  Seal of the United States Court of Federal Claims. Public Domain. 

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