FEBRUARY 13, 1942


In United States v. Santa Fe Pacific Railroad Company, 314 U.S. 349 (1941), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the 1881 creation of a reservation by executive order at the request of the Hualapai extinguished the tribe’s Aboriginal title to lands outside of the reservation that they once occupied and used. However, the Court recognized Indian rights to occupancy as the basis for Aboriginal land claims.  In so doing, the Court jump-started Aboriginal land claims in Alaska where, unlike the Hualapai, the Tlingit and Haida had not extinguished their right of occupancy. Based upon the decision, a February 1942 opinion issued by the Solicitor of the U.S. Department of the Interior (“Margold Opinion”) affirmed Alaska Native fishing rights on the rationale that Alaska Native Aboriginal fishing rights had never been expressly extinguished by the U.S. and occupancy could likely be proven.  In response, the Alaska territorial government changed its regulations regarding Native fishing rights and the Tlingit and Haida saw the decision as a way to claim ownership of a vast portion of the Tongass National Forest.

Sources:  Bridget Lee Baumgarte, "Alaska Natives And The Power Of Perseverance: The Fight For Sovereignty And Land Claims In Southeast Alaska, 1912-1947" (2015). UNLV Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers, and Capstones. 2466. http://dx.doi.org/10.34917/7777294; Alaska Natives And The Power Of Perseverance: The Fight For Sovereignty And Land Claims In Southeast Alaska, 1912-1947 (unlv.edu)
“Rewriting History and Proving Property Rights: Hualapai Indian Activism and the Law of Land Claims in the 20th Century,” https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjw7JnspNrvAhWMXM0KHS2MBfQQFjAFegQIDBAD&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.doi.gov%2Fsites%2Fdoi.gov%2Ffiles%2Fm-37064-permanent-withdrawal-of-sol-op-m-37043-authority-to-acquire-land-into-trust-in-alaska.-01.19.2021-and-memo-executed.pdf&usg=AOvVaw1afPPKty274q2MLKZ1qNgt
Map: U.S. Department of Agriculture, undated.  Public Domain.

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