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.
STATEMENT OF EMIL NOTTI, PRESIDENT, ALASKA FEDERATION OF NATIVES (spoken)
Thank you. Mr. Chairman.
My name is Emil Notti. I am president of the Alaska Federation of Natives.
I appreciate the opportunity to appear before this committee again. I have been before it previously. I will limit my remarks this morning to the provisions of the bill because I think you have seen great areas of Alaska and the problems that face us.
One of the provisions of the bill is the 40 million acres of land that we request. We think it is a reasonable amount of land and it is a necessary amount of land for people to make a living from. It is a minimum amount of land. Forty million acres of land will not provide a total subsistent living for our people, but it will allow the option for those who continue the old way of life. For those who will not, it can provide a base for moving into the mainstream.
The $500 million provision of our bill may seem like a lot of money, but after looking at the conditions in our villages, $500 million will only give our Native people a chance to operate on a standard of living of what we consider basic minimums, I think, for the rest of the United States.
The $500 million, as we have written in our bill, will be paid over an 8-year period. It works out something less than that to money value. We think it is a reasonable amount to ask. It is in the neighborhood of a dollar and a half an acre, and based on past dealings this is in line with other settlements.
Our bill has built-in safeguards. The money would not be wasted. The total of what the people think is needed will not be wasted. Part of the money, will go to regional corporations and nonprofit affiliates which would provide for health, education, and welfare, things that are priorities with most of the people of Alaska.
he 2 percent overriding royalty, this 2 percent would provide our people, a continuing interest in the land. As you talk to these people, you understand they feel the land is vital, it is needed for the future. Two percent would, I think, provide a means of preventing our people from coming back to Congress in the next generations and saying a fair settlement -was not made.
On the administration of the money, you have seen the competence of our people, you have seen people in the executive offices of airlines, you have seen people in business for themselves, you have seen students who are in college now. We think we need to be able to determine our own future, we have the competence and we have the young people coming up who would administer this money wisely.
One of the provisions of our bill calls for 12 regional corporations. Other bills call for one statewide corporation. We think the State of Alaska is too big to have just one regional corporation. We feel the structure of such a corporation would not be responsive to the people. We feel the 12 regional corporations would bring the administration closer to the people, they would have some say in how the money is spent and how much of it is used in the various regions of Alaska. I have no further comments on the provisions of the bill. I would be glad to answer questions.
Question: Mr. Chairman, first I would like to ask Mr. Notti if he would submit for the record any detailed plans the Alaska Federation of Natives has in mind for the expenditure of the $500 million capital sum. I realize it would have to be tentative. If you have specific plans as to the amount which you hope to put in housing and the amount which you hope to put into hospital services and things of this sort, it would be helpful. If that could be submitted for the record I would appreciate it.
Also, the same as to any estimates you have as to the revenue anticipated from the 2 percent override and any specific plans you have for that revenue. If that could be submitted for the record it would be appreciated.
(The detailed plans referred to follow):
The Alaska Federation of Natives has not at this time attempted to earmark specific sums of money for specific projects. The many needs of the Native people are clear. But specific cost estimates for various strategies of response are more difficult to obtain. The Federation has submitted an application to the Ford Foundation, endorsed by the members of the Alaska Delegation to Congress, for funds to begin a comprehensive study of Native needs. If this application is approved, the Federation itself will be able to prepare estimated fund allocations of the sort requested by the Committee.
Whether or not the Federation is able to conduct such a study, however, the Native Development Corporation provided for in the AFN Bill will undoubtedly itself wish to make a careful study of native needs before allocating funds. It would, indeed, be irresponsible to allocate such a sizable amount of money upon any more casual basis.
While dollars-and-cents estimates of amounts to be devoted to various purposes are impractical at this time, however, it is possible to detail the various areas which will require sizable funds. The vast majority of Alaskan Natives live in substandard housing. If the Natives are to enjoy a decent way of life this situation must be remedied. The task will be a costly one.
Closely tied to the housing problem, of course, are the inadequate supply of clean pure water and the almost total nonexistence of sewerage facilities. These problems also must be attacked, and the effort will be expensive because of the permafrost which makes the drilling of wells and the laying of sewerage lines expensive in Alaska. Land conditions in Alaska also result in exceptionally poor drainage of the surface in many areas. Consequently, many villages may wish to take steps, and plans have been made in several villages, to improve drainage by the strategic placement of gravel in various portions of the village.
If the Natives are to become contributing, self-sufficient members of Alaskan society, a strenuous campaign will also be necessary to improve educational levels and employability. Public schools, of course, are traditionally the responsibility of state and local government in most areas of the country, and the State of Alaska is presently assuming responsibility of many of the schools hither to managed and operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Natives expect to pay for and benefit from public schools on an equal basis with citizens elsewhere in the State. But the unique difficulties of providing schools in the more sparsely settled parts of Alaska mean that the Natives themselves will wish to devote special attention to school problems.
Hitherto, many Native children could obtain a high school education only by traveling hundreds and even thousands of miles from their homes to attend BIA schools. These dislocations are hard on the children, hard on the families. Because of the impracticability of providing high schools in the smaller Native villages, some arrangements for education away from home will always be necessary. But much can be done to make the boarding school experience more rewarding for the students involved, and less disruptive of family ties.
In addition, Alaskan society, like society everywhere, is increasingly college oriented. The Natives will wish to provide scholarships to enable their children to benefit from opportunity of college educations, whether in Alaska or in the lower 48 states.
As educational levels improve, so will the employment prospects of Natives. But special efforts will need to be made to enhance the employability of members of the present generation, many of whom have been forced to cut short their educations. Private employers in Alaska are increasingly aware of the importance of hiring Natives, and assisting Natives to qualify for jobs. The Natives welcome these efforts, and hope that they will continue to expand. But Native workers wish to be self-reliant and wish to win jobs because they can promise to do the work well. To enable them to do so, the Native corporations will wish to provide sizable sums for training to prepare Natives for responsible, rewarding positions.
In addition to job training, an important strategy for attacking the high levels of Native unemployment will be the stimulation of businesses where Natives can seek and gain employment. In selecting the sort of enterprises that the Native Development Corporations will wish to invest in, operate or support, another important factor will be whether the business provides a service or good which will benefit the Native people.
One critical need of the Natives in Alaska is for surface transportation. Consequently, airlines and companies providing water transportation are an attractive avenue for investigation. The need for streets and roads, together with the need for housing, makes construction companies an attractive venture also. Other possible business opportunities which will benefit Native producers, Native workers and Native consumers in Alaska would be tanneries for the fur industry, canneries for the fishing industry, and cooperatives to market fish and furs.
Hopefully, this brief discussion will offer the committee some useful insight into the sorts of ways that the Natives will use the cash compensation and the proceeds of the revenue sharing plan. It is impossible to delineate the precise amounts that will be channeled into various development projects and business ventures. But it is our wish to assure the Committee that careful, well-informed decisions will be made.
Question: In the bills there are 242 villages, you say, qualified for the 40 million acres of land. Are they to be all treated equally?
No, sir. Our plan calls for a minimum of four townships per village. That is in the neighborhood of 92,160 acres. If they pass – I think this figures 187 people based on this population of 60,000 – they would get an additional amount of acreage, the bigger towns would get larger areas.
Question: This legislation provides for both land and money. If Congress would grant only one, which would your organization prefer, land or money?
On land and money, we think they are both important. The land would provide for a base for future generations to build on; the money is needed now to correct some of the conditions that exist.
Question: If you had a choice, which would you say?
Well, I hate to answer that. The land is felt to be important. There are many people in the villages, especially the older ones, who tell us 40 million acres is not enough, that the land would be heritage for their children. There is a deep feeling for the land.
Question: I wonder if Mr. Edmondson would agree to expanding the request for a detailed plan for expenditure of the $500 million and the 2 percent, if that is the way it should turn out, to include some kind of a plan as far as the land is concerned, and what Mr. Notti’s feeling is as to the distribution of land for the homesite and this sort of thing. Would you expand it to include that?
(The information, referred to, follows)
The Natives of Alaska have requested title to 40 million acres of land to insure that they will be able to participate in the development of Alaska rather than be pushed aside by it. Most Natives still follow the village way of life and roam over large areas of the land in search of the fish, game, berries and so forth that make up their subsistence diet. Time may change this way of life. But it is important to protect the Natives during any transitional period, and to insure that Natives are able to choose a new way of life rather than have it thrust upon them. To meet this goal, it is important that the Native villages hold title to their land, and that the Natives hold enough land to protect their subsistence resource.
This statement of goals indicates the ways in which the Natives will use their land. In the short-run, lands at the center of present Native villages will be patented over the Natives non-Natives occupying homes and having primary places of business there, as provided in Section 12 (b) (2) of the bill submitted by the AFN. Land surrounding the villages selected by the Natives will permit the expansion of the villages and offer growing space for new developmental projects. In some cases, the village itself will wish to carry out plans on these lands. In many other cases, sites will be made available to individuals and business organizations that will use the land in ways that will provide services, goods and jobs that will benefit the villages.
Question: Mr. Notti, we have been advised by some people that instead of giving the substantial land grant we should instead give special rights to the Native people in land rather than just an outright grant of the land or surface rights, special rights of hunting for subsistence and things like that. Would you submit for the record your opinion as to whether this would be satisfactory and equitable and if so, why, and if not, why not.
Yes, sir; I will.
(The information referred to follows)
The Natives of Alaska wish a guarantee that enough lands will be available to them after the settlement legislation to permit them to carry on their traditional way of life and to participate in the development of Alaska. Any arrangement which offers this guarantee is, of course, satisfactory and equitable. A fact of modern life, however, is that land-use conflicts are resolved in terms of legally recognized interests in land. In Alaska as in all other states, a fee simple title offers its holder the most effective protection for the enjoyment of his lands. Since before the time of Blackstone, the importance of title to real property has been fundamental in Anglo-American law.
Different interests in land can be imposed upon the same tract of land, of course. But experience has indicated that whenever this is done, conflicts between individuals holding the different interests are inevitable. Consequently, the Natives of Alaska firmly believe that they must receive sizable quantities of land in full fee simple title if they are to be certain of its enjoyment and future use.
Sections 12 (c) and 16 of the bill submitted by the AFN made special provision for additional surface rights in land used traditionally for subsistence purposes and for a guarantee that the Natives will be able to use public lands elsewhere in the State for hunting, fishing and berrying for a limited period of time. These provisions, as drafted in the AFN Bill, would grant a legally recognizable and protectable right to the Natives. The Committee may well wish to consider other ways of protecting the Natives in their use of the land for traditional purposes. But the Natives believe that any such alternative arrangement, in order to be equitable and effective, must create a legal right for the Natives, enforceable by them, and which cannot be taken away from them except by procedures that are narrowly and carefully specified by the legislation.
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.