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Court rules Tribe can make traditional use of Valles Caldera NPres under Aboriginal title

A split 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has given the Jemez Pueblo rights to use a portion of Valles Caldera National Preserve in New Mexico as its ancestors did, a ruling that raises the prospect that tribes elsewhere in the United States will seek to regain access to their traditional homelands.

The decade-old case before the 10th Circuit revolved around whether the pueblo had "the exclusive right to use, occupy and possess” the lands of the national preserve under its continuing aboriginal title to the 89,000-acre National Park System unit. A lower court in 2013 had dismissed the claim, ruling that an 1860 act of Congress gave the land to the heirs of Luis Maria de Baca and ended any aboriginal claims to the land.

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