"AFN Gets Its Counsel Back"

"Justice Goldberg Now Reinstated as Chief Counsel for Federation"

Tundra Times, June 13, 1969, p.1.


After difficult and often agonizing moments, the Alaska Federation of Natives has now affected the reinstatement of the man it wished to represent the federation as general counsel during the land claims legislation in Congress, Justice Arthur J. Goldberg.

About a month ago, after concurring to represent AFN on land claims matters in Washington, Goldberg resigned after encountering a stiff controversy largely generated by the team of attorneys for Alaska native associations who questioned his fee contract with AFN.

Along with this, the Alaska lawyers objected to Goldberg's hiring of Edward Weinberg, former deputy solicitor for the Department of the Interior, saying that Weinberg would be violating the criminal code of the United States if he was to work with Goldberg on land matters.

Alaska attorneys said that Weinberg would be violating Title 18, Section 207, because of his prior work during Stewart Udall's tenure as Secretary of the Interior.

Justice Goldberg has since asked the Interior Department to make a ruling on the matter and that department has now handed the problem to the Justice Department for ruling. The ruling is expected to come out in the near future.

It has also become apparent that fee schedule will be written into the land claims legislation to determine the pay basis for attorneys who work on the land legislation.

"I believe the conditions now exist which make it possible for me to resume my representation of AFN and I am pleased to do so," Justice Goldberg said in his wire of acceptance to the AFN last Monday.

Goldberg said that his decision to come back to work for the AFN has been influenced by the 20 to 1 vote of the AFN board of directors asking him to reconsider his decision to withdraw about a month ago.

He said that many others have asked him to resume his representation of the AFN. He said this included Sen. Mike Gravel, Sen. Ted Stevens, Congressman Howard Pollock, various other federal officials, attorneys and native and non-native Alaskans from all walks of life.

"When I was first asked to represent AFN, I stated that I viewed the land issue as a matter of great public importance and deemed my representation to be a form of public service in which compensation was a secondary consideration. Upon resuming this representation, I wish to reiterate these statements," Goldberg declared this week.

He cautioned that all who are concerned with the native cause must now put aside extraneous issues and get on with the job of presenting the natives' position in the most effective way possible. He said his colleagues and himself shall dedicate themselves toward this end.

"The important thing, of course, he said, "is not who represents the natives. The important thing is for the natives to be unified and to work with federal and state officials in arriving at a fair and reasonable settlement."

"I have confidence," he went on, "that the very able native leadership will maintain and strengthen the unity which the natives have already demonstrated and will take appropriate steps to achieve a fair resolution of the native's claim.

"I also have confidence in our country and I am hopeful that the final settlement will reflect credit upon the natives of the State of Alaska and our nation."

Goldberg said that he and his colleagues have conferred with most regional counsel who represent native groups and associations and "it now appears that an effective team of attorneys will be able to work together in harmony to help the natives formulate and advocate their position on the land issue."

"And most important, the Alaska natives through the AFN have recently demonstrated a great unity and singleness of purpose," stated Goldberg. "I believe the conditions now exist which make it possible for me to resume my representation of AFN and I am pleased to do so."

Goldberg sent his associates, Jay Greenfield and Peter A.A. Berle, to Anchorage last Wednesday to confer and resume work on the substantive issues with the elected leaders of AFN and regional counsel.

"I am aware that work has progressed during the period that I was unable to represent AFN and I expect that such work will prove very helpful," said Goldberg.

Emil Notti said from Anchorage this week that he was extremely pleased with the work the AFN board of directors has done. He said that the AFN was unified more than ever before.

"The board is to be highly commended," Notti stated. "It worked hard. I think the recent difficulties we encountered have a lot to do with us getting together. They had the unifying effect."

[Alaskool Home]