Hoonah Indian Association v. Morrison

170 F.3d 1223 (1999)

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Hoonah Indian Association v. Morrison

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
170 F.3d 1223 (1999)

Facts

The Hoonah Indian Association (Hoonah) and Sitka Tribe (Sitka) (plaintiffs) filed an action against the United States Forest Service (defendant) for injunctive and other relief under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) to block timber sales on Baranof Island in the Tongass National Forest. The Hoonah and Sitka were tribal governments in southeastern Alaska, and they claimed that the timber sales would impact an area of the forest that was culturally important to their constituencies because the Kiks.adi clan of the Tlingit tribe passed over the area when retreating north after their fort came under attack by Russians in 1804. Known as the “Kiks.adi Survival March,” the event did not generate physical original source documentation, and although the fort from which the Kiks.adi retreated was already a designated historic site, the actual location of the trail or trails over which they travelled was not specifically known. Instead, its general location was memorialized largely by oral tradition. In preparation for the timber sales, the Forest Service prepared an Environmental Impact Statement and identified dozens of historic properties that were potentially eligible for inclusion on the National Register, but the Kiks.adi Survival March was not included; although the event was culturally important, the Forest Service was unable to identify the march’s exact path despite having sought information from local tribes and carefully evaluating the information that was provided regarding the area. The Hoonah and Sitka sued for injunction, claiming that oral history was sufficient to identify the correct route and the Forest Service’s decision otherwise was arbitrary and capricious. The district court denied the Hoonah and Sitka’s motion for summary judgment and injunction, and the Hoonah and Sitka appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kleinfeld, J.)

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