On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied
Kodiak rancher Omar Stratman's petition for review of his court battle with a
local Native group over land rights, putting an end to the case after 33 years.
KMXT's Erik Wander has more.
Stratman first contested Leisnoi
Incorporated's right to approximately 115,000 acres of land in 1976, when the
Native corporation received lands on Kodiak and Woody islands under the Alaska
Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971. The drawn-out legal process has resulted
in several court decisions and overturns since 1976, the most recent coming in
2008, when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided in favor of Leisnoi. The
high court's Monday decision affirms the 2008 ruling.
Stratman's attorney, Michael J.
Schneider, said he and Stratman are understandably disappointed with the
outcome of the case, although not completely surprised.
1 30 sec. "It is very, very difficult to get ...
sure did the best we could.")
expressed some relief that the case is finally over, despite the disappointing
outcome. He said that those similarly frustrated that Lesnoi now gets to keep
the land and can restrict its use have no choice but to accept the court's
decision and move on.
2 36 sec. "It's just the way it is ... but we lost that debate.")
said he admired Stratman for being able to withstand the pressures he's had to
endure throughout the years. He also explained the ultimate goal of the case
and said it never would have reached the nation's highest court without
3 42 sec. "This guy has really stood ... to
their lands as they choose.")
shareholder Roy Madsen said his first reaction to the decision was relief. He
described recent reports on the case as one-sided both regard to the facts and
the portrayal of Stratman.
1 50 sec. "The Secretary of the Interior ... because
he had motive.")
Charlie Powers, Koniag
Incorporated's Vice President for Corporate Affairs, declined to comment on the
Supreme Court's decision. However, Koniag President Will Anderson issued a statement
saying, "Koniag is very pleased that the litigation is finally over and that Woody Island's
eligibility has been upheld." Anderson's
statement continues, "It is very unfortunate that this litigation has lasted
for such a long time and has been the source of a lot of hard feelings on both
sides. Now we can finally put this issue behind us and focus on working together
as a community."