The following are public statements provided at hearings held in Fairbanks and Anchorage the 17th and 18th of October 1969 prior to the passage of ANCSA. They provide the reader with some of the issues and concerns discussed prior to the passage of ANCSA.


Mr. Chairman, members of the House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee, honored guests, ladies and gentlemen, my name is Leo Mark Anthony. I have been active in the Alaskan mineral industry all of my adult life, first as a prospector, then as a mine operator, and for the last 12 years as manager of various exploration ventures. There is much more involved here than settling a land claim and it is of significance to our national well being.

Do you think that the Russian government would have sold Alaska to the U.S. if the Russians had discovered gold here? I doubt it. Mind you they tried to find it and they did find it but not in paying quantities. The first commercial gold strike in Alaska was made in 1870 near Sumdum in SE Alaska by a group of Iowa farm boys who had come north to seek their fortune.

In 1871 a mining engineer named George Pilz started the first gold stamp mill on Gravina Island across from where Ketchikan now stands. Pilz and his brother-in-law, Charles Hull of San Francisco, grubstaked a couple of prospectors named Joseph Juneau and Richard Harris. They found Gold Creek, where our capitol Juneau now stands. Just across the channel from Juneau, the stamp mill at Tredwell started grinding ore in 1882 and that marked the beginning of Douglas, Alaska. By 1890 gold had been found on Resurrection Creek on the Kenai Peninsula, Minnok Creek near Rampart, and Tramway Bar on the upper Koyukur River.

In 1896 a prospector named Robert Henderson discovered gold on Quartz Creek in the Yukon. He showed his discovery to another prospector, George Carmack, and Carmack, while stopping for a drink of water on his way back to camp, discovered Eldorado Creek and started the Klondike stampede.

Gold was located near Nome in 1898 by two reindeer herders grubstaked by a missionary. Fairbanks was struck in 1902 by a lone prospector, Felix Pedro. He walked 180 miles from Circle City with pick and shovel, rifle and gold pan and what little food he could carry. After digging his successful prospect hole he climbed a nearby hill and spotted the smoke from a river steamer. It had run aground on the Chena River. When Pedro showed up and purchased supplies with his newly mined gold, the captain unloaded the boat and that's the foot of the Cushman Street bridge in Fairbanks today.

By World War I copper had been found and the fabulous Kennecott Mines were in production. Tin had been found on the Seward Peninsula, mercury in the Kuskowim, gold in the Innoko, Iditarod, Ruby, Marshall and many more places.

Chromium was shipped from the Kenai during both World Wars, and platinum was discovered at Goodnews Bay in 1926 by an Eskimo with the unlikely name of Pete Smith. In 1952 another lone prospector, Rhiny Berg, found copper in the Brooks Range and the town of Bornite was born. In 1955 two Ketchikan prospectors located uranium on Prince of Wales Island. There were more, many more finds, but for every success there were a thousand failures. Many of our cities today started out as raw mining camps or communications and resupply centers for the camps - and that includes this one.

The Natives of Alaska have a heritage here but so do we and others. They should receive the lands they live on and utilize now. They do have some claims for past wrongs against the federal government. They should receive mineral rights to the lands conveyed to them and their settlement should be as free as possible from bureaucratic entanglement. But I fail to see any parameters in HR 10193, HR 13142, or HR 14212 for a just land settlement. You can't get parameters until you adjudicate the land claims in terms of use and occupancy. To do this requires a lot more homework than has gone into any of these bills. The Federal Field Committee thinks in terms of one township per village and they use a BIA defined village. The Department of the Interior is willing to settle the village lands problem for double the acreage proposed by the FFC. The Natives just point to a map of Alaska and think in terms of taking everything they can get. Congress or the court of claims should set some guidelines for proof of title. Then and only then will you have the basis for a just land settlement. For example: the people of St. Lawrence Island can prove beyond any reasonable doubt that they use and occupy the whole island, all 1,205,000 acres of it, but Manley Hot Springs is not and never was a Native village.

Suspending the mining laws on vast acreages of land doesn't make good sense. Neither does a production tax on locatable minerals. Neither is germane to this settlement. Just a week ago a consulting engineer from London called on me and he said that there seem to be many properties in Alaska which would be mines just about anywhere else in the world. I had to agree with him. We miners in Alaska live with the hope that somehow we can turn things around. If we don't succeed there never will be much meaningful employment in the Interior and Arctic. Just look at the land - there's not much on it whatever wealth is there lies under the ground.

The American mining laws are one of the most democratic sets of laws ever passed by a U.S. Congress. The very cornerstone of American mining law is equal opportunity for all seekers. That means rich or poor, Native or white, prospector or investment syndicate. Every important deposit of locatable mineral found in Alaska was discovered by a prospector, developer, or small mining firm. Even in Canada today, where the mineral exploration climate is a lot healthier than in the United States, four out of every five new finds are made by the "little man" and the big outfits buy in or buy them out. In Alaska mining claims are staked by Natives and non-Natives alike.

One-fifth of our populations in Native, but four-fifths is not. This land has always beckoned the poor young American with a dream, and these are the people who sowed most of the sweat to make Alaska the dynamic part of America which it is today. The heritage of Alaska is not just Native nor Miner, or Headsteader, or any other special group. It is the heritage of America - of all Americans.

Let the ashes of history lie where they have fallen. The future is what is important and it belongs to our children. Educate them, teach them the value of work, and the beauty of America.

Source: Alaska Native Land Claims Part II, "Hearings before the Subcommittee on Indian Affairs of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, House of Representatives, Ninety-first Congress First Session on H.R. 13142, H.R. 10193, and H.R. 14212, Bills to Provide for the Settlement of Certain Land Claims of Alaska Natives, and for Other Purposes. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1970.

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