2000 V. FAGERSTROM 799 P.2d 304 (1990)


During the warmer seasons, property in Osborn is suitable for homesites and activities. During the colder seasons, little or no use is made of Osborn property. Fagerstrom’s (D) earliest recollection of the disputed parcel is his family’s use in 1944. D’s family used an abandoned boy-scout cabin on the parcel during the summer months. In 1947, they moved their campsite to an area south of the disputed parcel, but D continued to make seasonal use of the disputed parcel for subsistence and recreation. In 1963, D got married and brought a small quantity of building materials to the north end of the parcel to build a cabin. In 1970, D used four corner posts to stake off a 12-acre parcel for purposes of Native Allotment application. In 1970, D built a picnic area on the north end of the disputed parcel, and this included a gravel pit, beachwood blocks as chairs, firewood and a 50-gallon barrel to use as a stove. In 1974, P placed a camper trailer on the north end of the disputed parcel. The camper remained from June through September. D also built an outhouse and a fish rack on the north end. D also planted spruce trees, which were not indigenous to Osborn. In 1977, a reindeer shelter was built on the north end along with a pen. D testified that they were in use of the land every other weekend from 1974-78 and even a couple of times during the week. They used the entire parcel with the north end as a base camp. In 1987, Nome 2000 (P) filed suit to eject D from a disputed parcel of land. P placed into evidence testimony by an expert in anthropology, who stated that D’s use of the land was consistent with the traditional Native Alaskan system of land use. That system does not recognize exclusive ownership of land and only establishes a first priority claim to the land’s resources. Such a claim is not exclusive and is not a matter of ownership but is more of a stewardship. The only exclusion that D performed was because other campers were attempting to use D’s firewood. D got several witnesses to testify that D’s use was consistent with ownership. In 1978, a cabin was put on the north end of the property. P conceded that from that time forward, P adversely possessed the land. D claimed ownership of the property by adverse possession and counter-sued. Those statutes provide for a 10-year limitation period. P moved for a directed verdict as to the southerly portion of the land. P was denied. The trial court denied the motion. The jury found that D had adversely possessed the entire parcel. P appealed.