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Alaska’s Woody Island Is a Native Village, Court Says

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - The Interior Secretary properly certified Alaska's Woody Island as a native village under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, the 9th Circuit ruled.

Omar Stratman has been challenging the certification for the last 32 years.

Judge Tashima dismissed Stratman's challenge, citing Congress' passage in 1980 of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.

By enacting this legislation, Congress ratified the Secretary of the Interior's 1974 determination of the island's eligibility as a native village. Woody Island qualifies because it contains more than 25 natives and it is not "of a modern or urban character."

The village corporation, Leisnoi Inc., was named in the 1980 legislation, entitling the natives to the land. This rendered Stratman's challenge moot, Tashima ruled.

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