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Episode 49: John Sturgeon’s turf war continues

By KTVA Alaska 8:46 AM April 4, 2016

Although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on John Sturgeon’s case against the National Park Service, his battle is far from over. The justices, in a unanimous decision, sent his case back to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for more work.

What started out as a moose hunter’s fight to use his hovercraft in a national park has become much more. The legal frontiers cover a vast territory — encompassing the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act — landmark federal legislation that added greatly to the complexity of land ownership in Alaska.

In this week’s program, we explore this complicated landscape, which some state rights advocates say is littered with broken promises and serious threats to state and private land rights.

Here are some of the highlights of this week’s show:

  • We hear several perspectives on the Sturgeon case, which include:
    • Ryan Fortson, who teaches courses on tribal law at the University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Center
    • Aaron Schutt, CEO of the Doyon Native Corporation
    • Jim Adams, regional director for the National Parks Conservation Association
  • Our guests are John Sturgeon and his attorney Matt Findley

It’s not every day that you get to talk with someone who has taken a case all the way to the highest court in the land, nor the attorney who made the argument. One of the most interesting parts of our discussion was their analysis of Justice John Robert’s opinion, in which he went to great lengths to say Alaska is a state that is “different” when it comes to land rights, based on its history and unique use of the land for subsistence.

In a Frontiers Web Extra, you can hear more from Sturgeon and Findley.

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