Koniag, Inc., Village of Uyak v. Andrus, Nos. 76-1325

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
Writing for the CourtBefore WRIGHT, Chief Judge, BAZELON and ROBB; Opinion for the Court filed by ROBB; ROBB; BAZELON
Citation580 F.2d 601,188 U.S.App.D.C. 338
PartiesKONIAG, INC., the VILLAGE OF UYAK v. Cecil D. ANDRUS, Secretary of the Interior, Appellant. The VILLAGE OF LITNIK KONIAG, INC. v. Cecil D. ANDRUS, Secretary of the Interior, Appellant. SALAMATOF VILLAGE ASSOCIATION and Cook Inlet Region, Inc. v. Cecil D. ANDRUS, Secretary of the Interior, Appellant. The VILLAGE OF ANTON LARSEN BAY KONIAG, INC. v. Cecil D. ANDRUS, Secretary of the Interior, Appellant. The VILLAGE OF UGANIK KONIAG, INC. v. Cecil D. ANDRUS, Secretary of the Interior, Appellant. The VILLAGE OF BELLS FLATS KONIAG, INC. v. Cecil D. ANDRUS, Secretary of the Interior, Appellant. The VILLAGE OF AYAKULIK KONIAG, INC. v. Cecil D. ANDRUS, Secretary of the Interior, Appellant. The VILLAGE OF PORT WILLIAM KONIAG, INC. v. Cecil D. ANDRUS, Secretary of the Interior, Appellant. The VILLAGE OF SOLOMON BERING STRAITS NATIVE CORPORATION v. Cecil D. ANDRUS, Secretary of the Interior, Appellant. VILLAGE OF ALEXANDER CREEK COOK INLET REGION, INC. v. Cecil D. ANDRUS, Secretary of the Interior, Appellant. to 76-1334.
Docket NumberNos. 76-1325
Decision Date28 April 1978

Page 601

580 F.2d 601
188 U.S.App.D.C. 338
KONIAG, INC., the VILLAGE OF UYAK
v.
Cecil D. ANDRUS, Secretary of the Interior, Appellant.
The VILLAGE OF LITNIK KONIAG, INC.
v.
Cecil D. ANDRUS, Secretary of the Interior, Appellant.
SALAMATOF VILLAGE ASSOCIATION and Cook Inlet Region, Inc.
v.
Cecil D. ANDRUS, Secretary of the Interior, Appellant.
The VILLAGE OF ANTON LARSEN BAY KONIAG, INC.
v.
Cecil D. ANDRUS, Secretary of the Interior, Appellant.
The VILLAGE OF UGANIK KONIAG, INC.
v.
Cecil D. ANDRUS, Secretary of the Interior, Appellant.
The VILLAGE OF BELLS FLATS KONIAG, INC.
v.
Cecil D. ANDRUS, Secretary of the Interior, Appellant.
The VILLAGE OF AYAKULIK KONIAG, INC.
v.
Cecil D. ANDRUS, Secretary of the Interior, Appellant.
The VILLAGE OF PORT WILLIAM KONIAG, INC.
v.
Cecil D. ANDRUS, Secretary of the Interior, Appellant.
The VILLAGE OF SOLOMON BERING STRAITS NATIVE CORPORATION
v.
Cecil D. ANDRUS, Secretary of the Interior, Appellant.
VILLAGE OF ALEXANDER CREEK COOK INLET REGION, INC.
v.
Cecil D. ANDRUS, Secretary of the Interior, Appellant.
Nos. 76-1325 to 76-1334.
United States Court of Appeals,
District of Columbia Circuit.
Argued March 24, 1977.
Decided April 28, 1978.

Page 603

Appeals from the United States District Court for the District of columbia.

Jacques B. Gelin, Atty., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., with whom Peter R. Taft, Asst. Atty. Gen., Edmund B. Clark, Raymond N. Zagone and Herbert Pittle, Attys., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., were on brief, for appellant.

Edward Weinberg and F. Conger Fawcett, Washington, D. C., with whom Frederick L. Miller, Jr. and John P. Meade, Washington, D. C., were on brief, for appellees.

Avrum M. Gross, Atty. Gen., State of Alaska, Juneau, Alaska, filed a brief on behalf of the State of Alaska as amicus curiae urging reversal.

Before WRIGHT, Chief Judge, BAZELON and ROBB, Circuit Judges.

Opinion for the Court filed by ROBB, Circuit Judge.

ROBB, Circuit Judge:

The plaintiffs, eleven Native Alaskan villages, filed this action to challenge decisions of the Secretary of Interior which found each of them ineligible to take land and

Page 604

revenues under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), 43 U.S.C. § 1601 Et seq.

The Alaska area director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) had determined initially that all eleven villages were eligible under ANCSA but on administrative appeal the Secretary of the Interior ruled to the contrary. Granting summary judgment to the villages 1 the District Court vacated the Secretary's determinations and ordered the BIA decisions reinstated. Koniag, Inc. v. Kleppe, 405 F.Supp. 1360 (D.D.C.1975). The District Court did so in four of the cases on the ground that the BIA decisions had been appealed to the Secretary by a party without standing to do so; the appeals were therefore unauthorized and invalid, and under Department of the Interior regulations, the BIA decision, if unappealed, constituted the final decision of the Secretary. In the other seven cases, the court held the procedure followed to determine the appeals failed to comply with due process and further, that congressional interference had infected the determinations. The court ordered the BIA decisions reinstated in these seven cases because the effects of the congressional interference lingered and the BIA decisions were the last untainted decisions of the Secretary's delegate.

On appeal the Secretary attacks each of the District Court's rulings on the merits and argues that the proper remedy under any circumstances is a remand to him rather than reinstatement of the BIA decisions. We conclude that the District Court erred on the standing and congressional interference issues. We agree with the District Court, however, that the appeal procedure used here does not meet the requirements of due process. Accordingly, we hold that the proper remedy is a remand to the Secretary to redetermine these cases.

THE ACT AND THE REGULATIONS

Claims of Native Alaskans have long created obstacles to development of Alaska's oil and other natural resources and have raised questions of the state's ability to take dominion over public lands that it might otherwise select under provisions of the Alaska Statehood Act. To deal with this problem Congress intended ANCSA to accomplish a fair, rapid settlement of all aboriginal land claims by Natives and Native groups without litigation. The District Court's opinion contains an excellent summary of ANCSA, 405 F.Supp. 1364-67; for our purposes here, however, the complexities of the Act can be simplified. Under ANCSA, 40 million acres of land and $962,000,000 are to be distributed to Native villages and regional corporations; in exchange, all aboriginal titles and claims are to be extinguished. The funds and lands made available through the Act are to be divided among 13 regional corporations, in which the Natives hold stock, and whatever villages are found to be eligible. Depending upon their population, eligible villages may select between 69,120 and 161,280 acres from the public lands in their vicinity. The village will receive a patent to the surface estate and the regional corporation will receive a patent to the subsurface estate. Village eligibility requirements are set forth in the Act. 43 U.S.C. § 1610(b)(2), (3). The Secretary of the Interior is charged with making village eligibility determinations and with implementing the Act.

The Secretary adopted regulations to govern the decision-making process. 43 C.F.R. Part 2650 (1973). These regulations were applied in deciding the cases of the eleven villages. The Alaska area director of the BIA made initial eligibility determinations on all applicant Native villages. He published his proposed decision in the Federal Register and it became the final decision of the Secretary unless protested by "any interested party" within thirty days. Upon receipt of a protest, the area director evaluated it and rendered his final decision within thirty days. This decision, in turn

Page 605

was appealed to the Secretary by an "aggrieved party" filing notice with the Alaska Native Claims Appeal Board. 2 43 C.F.R. § 2651.2 (1973); Id. § 4.700 (1973). Although the regulations did not require a particular type of hearing on appeals, the Board referred all appeals to a Department of the Interior Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who conducted a full De novo hearing on the record. The parties were permitted to submit proposed findings and conclusions to the ALJ.

At this point the procedure veered from the usual course of administrative law. The recommended decision of the ALJ was forwarded to the Board without being served on the villages concerned. The Board made formal decisions based on the hearing record in each case and forwarded its recommended decisions to the Secretary, also without service on the villages. Only after the Secretary personally decided to accept the Board's decisions were the recommended decisions of the ALJ and the Board revealed to the parties.

STANDING

The first issue we must resolve is whether appeals from the BIA decisions were properly taken. The BIA area director determined that all ten of the villages before us here, See note 1 Supra, were eligible under ANCSA. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Forest Service, and the State of Alaska appealed one or another of the decisions, arguing that the villages did not meet the requirements of the Act. After separate De novo proceedings before an ALJ and review as described above, the Secretary ruled that the villages were not eligible under the Act.

In the District Court the villages renewed the argument which they had pressed before the ALJ that neither the federal agencies nor the State had standing to appeal from the BIA decisions. The District Court rejected the argument with respect to six of the villages because of the possibility that they might select land from a Wildlife Refuge or National Forest. The court noted:

some presently immeasurable degree of disadvantage may result if an unqualified village obtains authority over a portion of the lands now in the exclusive care of the United States and that this is sufficient to provide standing. . . . Moreover, the Forest Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service have broad mandates to protect our forests and wildlife, E. g., 16 U.S.C. §§ 551, 553; 16 U.S.C. § 742a Et seq. The Court is particularly reluctant to deny standing to those most likely in fact to have a legitimate concern about these lands and to come forward to protect the public interest, especially where the effect of finding standing is simply to allow adversary proceedings to be held which, if properly conducted, could contribute to fair and informed decision making.

405 F.Supp. at 1368-69.

We agree with the District Court's reasoning here and adopt it. 3 However the District Court went on to hold that the appeals from the BIA decisions in four other cases were invalid because as to two, Anton Larsen Bay and Bells Flats, the federal agencies had no standing to take the appeals, and as to two others, Alexander Creek and Solomon, the State of Alaska had no standing.

The Federal Agencies

The District Court ruled against the standing of the agencies to appeal the cases

Page 606

of Anton Larsen Bay and Bells Flats because

(e)ach of these two villages had made extensive good-faith commitments not to take land from a wildlife refuge or national forest. Even the most theoretical harm was removed by these commitments . . .

405 F.Supp. at 1369.

The issue is whether the Secretary has violated his regulations in permitting the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Forest Service to appeal administratively the decision on the eligibility of the two villages. Under the regulations, "any interested party" may protest the BIA initial decision, 43 C.F.R. § 2651.2(a)(3) (1973), and "any party aggrieved" by the BIA final decision may appeal to the Board. 43 C.F.R. § 4.700 (1973). The villages...

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42 practice notes
  • Mallinckrodt LLC v. Littell, No. CV-08-420-B-W.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Court (Maine)
    • May 20, 2009
    ...Lands Coal., 984 F.2d 1534 (9th Cir.1993) (executive official involvement with the Endangered Species Committee); Koniag, Inc. v. Andrus, 580 F.2d 601 (D.C.Cir.1978) (congressional involvement with the Department of the Interior); DCP Farms v. Yeutter, 957 F.2d 1183 (5th Cir.1992) (congress......
  • Preservation of Los Olivos v. Dept. of Interior, Case No. CV 06-1502 AHM (CTx).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
    • July 8, 2008
    ...appellate standing on anyone "whose interests could be adversely affected by a decision." See Koniag, Inc., Village of Uyak v. Andrus, 580 F.2d 601, 614 (D.C.Cir.1978) ("Such a general and indefinite provision [as 43 C.F.R. § 4.331] suggests no concrete standards for determining who should ......
  • Sierra Club v. Costle, Nos. 79-1565
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • June 1, 1981
    ...at nn.436-38, 448-49 supra. 533 EDF relies heavily upon Pillsbury Co. v. FTC, 354 F.2d 952 (5th Cir. 1966), and Koniag, Inc. v. Andrus, 580 F.2d 601 (D.C.Cir.), cert. denied, 439 U.S. 1052, 99 S.Ct. 733, 58 L.Ed.2d 712 (1978). Neither case is apposite to the facts here. In Pillsbury, severa......
  • Nichols v. Board of Trustees of Asbestos Workers Local 24 Pension Plan, No. 82-1959
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • December 11, 1987
    ...Pub.L. No. 93-406, tit. I, 88 Stat. 829, 891 (1974) (codified at 29 U.S.C. Sec. 1132(a)(3)(A) (1982)). 107 See Koniag, Inc. v. Andrus, 188 U.S.App.D.C. 338, 343, 580 F.2d 601, 606, cert. denied, 439 U.S. 1052, 99 S.Ct. 733, 58 L.Ed.2d 712 (1978); id. at 350, 580 F.2d at 613 (concurring opin......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
42 cases
  • Mallinckrodt LLC v. Littell, No. CV-08-420-B-W.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Court (Maine)
    • May 20, 2009
    ...Lands Coal., 984 F.2d 1534 (9th Cir.1993) (executive official involvement with the Endangered Species Committee); Koniag, Inc. v. Andrus, 580 F.2d 601 (D.C.Cir.1978) (congressional involvement with the Department of the Interior); DCP Farms v. Yeutter, 957 F.2d 1183 (5th Cir.1992) (congress......
  • Preservation of Los Olivos v. Dept. of Interior, Case No. CV 06-1502 AHM (CTx).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
    • July 8, 2008
    ...appellate standing on anyone "whose interests could be adversely affected by a decision." See Koniag, Inc., Village of Uyak v. Andrus, 580 F.2d 601, 614 (D.C.Cir.1978) ("Such a general and indefinite provision [as 43 C.F.R. § 4.331] suggests no concrete standards for determining who should ......
  • Sierra Club v. Costle, Nos. 79-1565
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • June 1, 1981
    ...at nn.436-38, 448-49 supra. 533 EDF relies heavily upon Pillsbury Co. v. FTC, 354 F.2d 952 (5th Cir. 1966), and Koniag, Inc. v. Andrus, 580 F.2d 601 (D.C.Cir.), cert. denied, 439 U.S. 1052, 99 S.Ct. 733, 58 L.Ed.2d 712 (1978). Neither case is apposite to the facts here. In Pillsbury, severa......
  • Nichols v. Board of Trustees of Asbestos Workers Local 24 Pension Plan, No. 82-1959
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • December 11, 1987
    ...Pub.L. No. 93-406, tit. I, 88 Stat. 829, 891 (1974) (codified at 29 U.S.C. Sec. 1132(a)(3)(A) (1982)). 107 See Koniag, Inc. v. Andrus, 188 U.S.App.D.C. 338, 343, 580 F.2d 601, 606, cert. denied, 439 U.S. 1052, 99 S.Ct. 733, 58 L.Ed.2d 712 (1978); id. at 350, 580 F.2d at 613 (concurring opin......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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