• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 11s

Supreme Court rules in ‘Katie John case’

By Heather Hintze 7:41 PM March 31, 2014

Denies the state's request to review a previous decision regarding the federal government's control over rural waterways

ANCHORAGE –

“I just want to say thank you,” said Kathryn Martin as she choked back tears. “Thank you to everyone. I thank the Lord for this day.”

Martin’s grandmother, Katie John, fought for decades for subsistence rights for Alaska Natives.

Monday morning the U.S. Supreme Court denied the State of Alaska’s request to review the initial ruling.

“This is also a victory for Alaska Natives and other rural Alaskans who depend on subsistence to feed their families,” said Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) Co-Chair Tara Sweeney. “And it’s also a victory for Alaskans who seek a prosperous, fair and equitable society. This really is a good day for the Alaska Native community.”

John initially took up the cause in the 1980s when the state closed fishing water she and her ancestors had used for generations.

By giving the federal government control over the land and the water, it would also allow Alaska Natives to continue to fish those waters.

Gov. Sean Parnell asked the court to overturn the federal rules regarding water rights that were promulgated in 1999. The case —  State of Alaska v. Sally Jewell, Secretary of the United States Department of Interior et al — which came to be known as the “Katie John case,” sought to keep the federal control.

“The state’s rural residents harvest about 22,000 tons of wild food each year, an average of 375 pounds per person, said AFN President Julie Kitka. “Fish makes up nearly 60 percent of the harvest by subsistence users each year. Nowhere else in the United States is there such a heavy reliance on fish and game to feed families.”

John’s family said they’re proud of the legacy she left behind and knows she’d be happy with the decision as well.

The Alaska Attorney General’s Office responded to the decision in a written statement:

The State is disappointed today by the news that the Supreme Court has denied hearing the case between the State of Alaska and the Department of Interior and will not move forward to clarify the lines of management authority between the state and federal subsistence programs in Alaska. Until this ambiguity can be removed and a clear definition of jurisdiction can be drawn, the dual management program will continue to lead to litigation and further uncertainty to the detriment of the Alaskan people as a whole.

John’s family said they’re proud of her legacy and know she’d be happy with the decision as well.

“She would be relieved. I can hear her saying, ‘Good, finally done.’ ‘No more,’” laughed Martin.

Latest Stories

  • Crime

    Man charged with pulling down telephone pole

    by Associated Press on Oct 31, 15:51

    A Fairbanks man suspected of shearing off a telephone pole when his truck pulled down an overhead wire has been issued a reckless driving summons. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://bit.ly/1pb91pU) reports 58-year-old James Knopke on Sept. 12 was pulling a trailer behind a 7.5-ton military surplus vehicle, which had a 16-foot homemade boom attached to […]

  • News

    Federal agency releases Arctic drilling review

    by Associated Press on Oct 31, 14:21

    The federal agency overseeing offshore petroleum development has released a revised environmental review of drilling off Alaska’s northwest coast, and critics say it shows the risk is too great. Mike LeVine of Oceana says it’s the third time the government has tried to justify offering leases in the Chukchi Sea based on an unfair evaluation […]

  • Politics

    Campaign 2014: Byron Mallott

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 31, 13:30

    This week, KTVA is running a series of interviews with the main candidates for office. KTVA’s Rhonda McBride brings us interviews with the candidates for lieutenant governor, starting with Byron Mallott — who has worn a number of hats, from mayor of Juneau and Yakutat to director of the Permanent Fund Corporation. For Mallott, however, […]

  • News

    Virgin Galactic spaceship crashes in Calif.; 1 reported dead

    by CBS/AP on Oct 31, 12:28

    Last Updated Oct 31, 2014 4:18 PM EDT MOJAVE, Calif. – A Virgin Galactic space tourism rocket, the SpaceShipTwo, exploded and crashed Friday during a test flight, killing one person aboard and seriously injuring another, witnesses and officials said. Wreckage was spotted in Southern California’s Mojave Desert. The spacecraft was carrying a crew of two. The Kern […]

  • News

    Fatal crash closes Seward Highway near Girdwood

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 31, 11:37

    One person has died and another sustained serious injuries after a multiple-vehicle collision on the Seward Highway Friday, Alaska State Troopers say. The crash — which occurred just before 11 a.m. north of Girdwood near Mile 96 — closed traffic in both directions as first responders assisted the victims, said AST spokeswoman Megan Peters. Beth […]

  • News

    Former Guard member speaks out about her assault

    by Emily Carlson on Oct 31, 11:23

    A former Alaska National Guard member says it wasn’t what Guard leadership did, it’s what they didn’t do that nearly killed her after she was sexually assaulted. In the wake of the September report that revealed claims of misconduct and mistrust within the Guard, Spc. Melissa Jones is speaking out. It’s agonizing, she says, but […]

  • On-Air

    Frost project hides art throughout Anchorage parks

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 31, 11:10

    The dark woods can be a scary place, so some local artists are helping to brighten them up this season. You can see new art installations popping up throughout Anchorage, if you know where to look. Every few weeks throughout the winter a new piece will be hidden in a local park and Daybreak will […]

  • On-Air

    Meet Baby Girl, this week’s Daybreak Adopt-A-Pet

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 31, 9:29

    Meet Baby Girl, a spayed, domestic short-hair kitty. She is social and affectionate and will greet you with a purr. She is full of love — even offering little kitty kisses — and loves to be pet, nudging you gently to ask for more. Baby Girl is a senior kitty who has lived with both […]