"Borbridge Knocks Nixon Claims Bill"

Anchorage Daily News, April 17, 1971, p. 1

Tlingit-Haida central council president John Borbridge is taking issue with the Nixon administration’s land claims bill as one that could destroy his tribe’s regional organization.

Borbridge told the Daily News "The administration’s new proposal does not make provision for meaningful regional corporations. It opts instead for a single statewide corporation which would be the recipient of all the monetary compensation . . ."

After citing the effectiveness of the Tlingit-Haida council as a regional organization, Borbridge said, "The question is no longer—will it work?—but one of—will we receive the opportunity to proceed?"

One major difference between the Alaska Native position and the administration is the administrative method of the settlement. The Natives want 12 regional corporations formed along ethnic lines, while the administration would erect one statewide organization.

Borbridge also criticized the administration’s outline of how land would be selected. "The administration bill would subordinate the land retention rights of the Natives . . . even to state tentatively approved lands."

"As many Native villages are completely surrounded by state tentatively approved lands, this provision would effectively preclude such villages from retaining the land to which they are historically or geographically tied," Borbridge said.

"The draftsmen of this bill apparently failed to take into account that the Native villages did not impose themselves on the state selections and the federal reserves. The villages were there first and always had preeminent possessory rights," Borbridge said.

He also criticized the Interior Department’s "concoction" of a transportation corridor and what he called "discriminatory aspects" of the Nixon provisions for settlement with Tlingit-Haida claims.

"In short, the Native rights are treated in this bill the way Native interests are usually treated when they come into competition with other interests in the Department of the Interior: last!", Borbridge said.

"While we welcome the generally more liberal Native land provisions of the administration’s new bill, and would express our appreciation to President Nixon and Secretary Morton for the new thinking," Borbridge said," the bill in its present form is not acceptable to the Tlingit and Haida Indians."

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