About the www.Alaskool.org project and its developers
Land claims at the grass roots:
1966 letters and village newsletters

Box 33
Kotzebue, Alaska
Sept. 8, 1966

(In Kiana)

Dear Johnny:

      Before the passage of any more time than is necessary, I must write you. As you can see, I am presently in Kiana visiting the Scheurchs and doing a little hunting, fishing, and trinking (I won't way which is taking up more time.)

      The CINA has mailed out a form letter desiring the attendance of various association leaders at a meeting down there in October. Did you receive one? (Oh, by the way, how is Calvin? Rhoda now knows about her husband's namesake, but doesn't know if the Eskimo name is the same. She was very pleased.) The hope it will convene in early October--travel at our own expense. Do you think you'll be able to make it? (A letter of invitation went to Jerome Trigg.)

      I have been enjoying the election results out in the toolies for some time and am about ready to head back to work--whatever that means in my business. For one thing, it means communicating to you some of the responsibilities ahead of us.

      Sam Taalak has been very communicative and wants to work closely together--the news items about merging don't mean in the near future. However there's a lot we can do together. He called from Barrow one evening concerned about what to do prior to the coming election. His mind was on Rivers.

      Herb Soll also called from Anchorage--the airline strike kept him from making it up to the meeting. He expressed a deep interest in working with us--Rabinowitz was visiting him the time he called. He mentioned that the matter of compensation could be worked out if we decided to take him on. Sam will also send us some letters Herb wrote. I also wrote Wm. Paul. Sr. but, of course, with no commitments--just newsy.

      The 23rd and 24th I went to Noorvik, Selawik, Kiana, Kivalina, and Pt. Hope--there is a going interest/in the organization. We must keep it up. The musts before us, I see, are the following: 1. Sending out the tapes, 2. Writing each a letter about the last meeting, 3. Writing up the by-laws for amendment, 4. The referendum on the by-laws in the villages, 5. Election of officers, 6. Collection of information on the land use. Other matters are the October meeting in Anc., the natives' store-warehouse/which I find each village interested in, ASCAP fund, politics, etc. Foremost also is the Kotzebue lot situation

      We must be aware now that it is apparent that my winning the candidacy for the democratic party will lend a great deal of legitimacy to an already legitimate organization. We cannot fail the people in attempting to create a strong, reasonable, and effective association. We cannot forget our interested friends to the South of us--if possible, in your travels, have some of the guys drop us a line. In two years we really ought to have a going machine--provided all goes well. It will be in the hands of those interested in the welfare of the people, not in the lining of their own pockets or the protection of special interests.

      What is the feeling among those you talk to about or winning the nomination? From the trickle of gossip that comes up about it, most feel that I'm a "radical" and will be a maverick in the House. Guess they are not used to someone speaking out and sticking up for what he believes in.

      How are you faring? What was your impressions of the news coverage we received in the Nugget, Miner, Daily News, and T. Times? How do the Nome people feel about our group? Have you spoken to Nagozruk? I have written him a week ago requesting copies of association bylaws--no answer to date.

      Am in a quandary as to what to do next? I must get work. the problem is where would be best? Fai or Otz. Need to go to Fairbanks to do research on many subjects, talk to many people, and work at the same time. On the other hand, Should I leave Kotzebue? It may be that the leadership in Kotzebue could be strengthened by our absence--they'd have responsibilities to carry through. What do you think? Will you remain in Nome for the winter. (Stupid question)

      Anyway, that's how it stacks up. Have been impressed by your carrying through of the last meeting ever since. More power to you--as L.A. would say, not too fast though!

      Give my regards to Mary and the kids and little Cal.


                              William L. Hensley


Elsewhere on Alaskool - some items mentioning John Schaeffer:
Quoted in Smithsonian article, August 1981
Photographed in Muktuk Marston's book Men of the Tundra
Participation in early NANA meeting
Participation in Alaska Native Commission

On Alaskool by Willie Hensley:
"What Rights to Land Have the Alaska Natives?: The Primary Issue" - May 1966
at pre-ANCSA hearings - October 1969
Speech - "Why the Natives of Alaska Have a Land Claim" - November 1969
Bilingual Conference Speech - February, 1981
"The Founding and Formation of the Northwest Alaska Native Association" - March, 2000