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 JEROME TRIGG, SR., PRESIDENT OF THE ARCTIC NATIVE BROTHERHOOD, NOME, ALASKA (spoken)
I am Jerome Trigg, Sr., President of the Arctic Native Brotherhood. Our organization office is in Nome, Alaska, and represents the Seward Peninsula Natives.
I would like to give a few reasons why we desire and need a full and just settlement. First, I would like to point out we are permanent residents. Even after our land was exploited, we remained. We love our land. We have united with the Alaska Federation of Natives. We are proud to be part of that organization.
We are in need of housing with utilities. We have Eskimo kids who have never had a bath. We have much skin disease and ear problems, many related health problems due to poor housing and water problems.
We have one of the lowest death ages of any group in the Nation.
We cannot borrow from banks to build houses, for you must have an adequate income to pay a loan back. Our children are going to school in distant places. We want them home. We would like to improve our villages to meet modern living conditions with running water. We would like to send our children to institutions of higher learning of our choice. We would like job training for the workers of our area.
We do not want to always live off the taxes other people pay. We want to earn our own way and pay taxes to support public services we all need, and to have the same freedom to make the choices in our lives as other people do.
The single greatest cause for our present situation, as second-class citizens, is too much dependence on welfare and decision-making by Government agencies.
The gold rush, even for all the gold taken from Native lands, left the Native worse off. Will the oil rush trample us, too, and destroy the game and resources of the wide areas of land we still must depend on for food and clothing? The Native, too, desires to benefit from development of the resources of the land, but we wish, for once, to guide this development so that our children will never have to suffer the hardships that absentee exploitation brought to my generation and older generations.
We are prepared to take on the job of managing a large sum of money and to invest that money in our people, the future generations of our people, and in the good of our State and our Nation.
If the settlement is too small, we will only be able to attack the symptoms of our problems. This is all the tax money so far has been able to do. There must be large settlements in the beginning to establish the system and the means of accomplishing all that must be done. There must be a regular amount of money which can be expected and planned for.
We think the federationís proposal for 40 million acres and $500 million with a 2 percent overriding royalty is a reasonable and just solution to our land claims. This combination of ownership in land and settlement money will allow the Native people to promote and guide development of the land. This proposal will allow us to meet the demands of the future.
We believe our Eskimo lands were illegally sold without our knowledge or consent by a country which had not conquered or lived on those lands. We also believe that our lands were sold by Russia to the United States when neither country had true knowledge of their use, occupation or ownership. We believe we are justly entitled to payments for nonrenewable resources which were removed without benefit to our people and for the lands which are now occupied by the descendants of others.
We have here in Alaska, Native bank officers, commercial airline pilots, commercial boat and barge operators, airline managers, and other executives, air station mangers, military officers, and school teachers. We have members of our people in other States who occupy a wide range of occupations. We have some Native corporations.
The money received in the final settlement will provide the capital to enable us to obtain education, advice, and technical assistance for ourselves and our children. It will provide money for building safe, sanitary and adequate housing for our people. It will provide the foundation and support for private ownership of property and business. It will equip us to compete for jobs and to obtain funds for major construction in our communities, and give us the freedom to make our own choices and mistakes and to profit from them.
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.