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Interior: Alaska Native veteran land process to proceed

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks during a news conference on a proposed land exchange for Alaska Native Vietnam War veterans on Wednesday, May 5, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. The proposal comes during what is expected to be the final weeks of the regular legislative session. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Native Vietnam War veterans can continue applying for federal land allotments, including on lands under review by the Biden administration, according to the U.S. Interior Department.

The department last month said it was halting plans advanced during the Trump administration that proposed opening 28 million acres in Alaska to mineral development and for land selections. It cited issues including “inadequate review of potential impacts on subsistence hunting and fishing,” and said the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which falls under the department, would “engage the public” and consult with tribes. The decision called for a two-year delay.

Members of Alaska’s congressional delegation raised concerns with possible land allotment delays.

The department later said it would accept applications from Native veterans seeking lands in the area during the two-year review. Tyler Cherry, a department spokesperson, told the Anchorage Daily News Monday allotments can be awarded before the review is complete. Lands are available for selection until late 2025.

Some veterans have said that lands being made available are difficult to access or outside their cultural homelands.

The program seeks to fulfill promises made under the 1906 Alaska Native Allotment Act, which allowed Alaska Natives to apply for up to 160 acres of land.

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