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 PHILLIP GUY, PRESIDENT OF THE ASSOCIATION OF THE VILLAGE COUNCIL PRESIDENTS, INC. (written)
My name is Phillip Guy, president of the Association of the Village Council Presidents, Inc., AVCP, Inc., a southwest Alaska regional association. The association land claims area covers some 55,000 square miles and the population totals approximately 20,000 people. The association membership includes 57 presidents of villages from both the Yukon and Kuskokwim areas. The association members voted to become a corporation effective August 1, 1969, with intentions of eventually becoming a controlling body in the orderly development in coordination with the various Government and State agencies in the southwest Alaska region. The corporation has already contracted with the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and the Public Health service for administration of funds for payments of village health aides. This is one of the first steps in our endeavors to have regional control of various Government and State programs and funds in our area. It is the corporation’s contention that programs, both Federal and State, that come into our region should be advocacy planned programs – advocacy planned programs to encourage participation of as many people as possible when implementing desired projects.
The southwest Alaska region has a history of the highest tuberculosis rate in the entire United States, highest infant mortality rate, deplorable unsanitary housing, pitiful sanitary facilities, no stable or viable economy, and therefore no jobs for many of our Native people.
Our Native people, before the advent of this so-called disturbing civilization with its unrealistic regulations and policies which we never took part in formulating, have depended on the land and its resources for shelter, food, water, warmth, and weapons beginning from time unknown many eons ago. Our Native people, striving to survive, have traveled over many acres and square miles of our fertile land hunting the moose, caribou, reindeer, bear, mountain squirrels, sea mammals, and many more too numerous for me to name.
Our Native people not only hunt the wild game but also pick wild berries, such as salmonberries, blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, strawberries, and others.
Lately, our land has been a topic of discussion, argument, debate; all because we, as Natives, are conforming to our Federal Government statutes, laws, regulations, and policies. In so doing, we are putting our faith in our Government's democratic principles; the principles in which you distinguished men have a very important role. The 40 million acres of land is hardly enough for Alaska's Natives, but this is our compromised figure and agreement. You gentlemen must realize that we will develop our lands to combat the poverty conditions that exist because of lack of adequate communications, the lack of better sanitation facilities, lack of or absence of sanitary water wells, lack of and need for proper housing, and other human misery-producing conditions.
The $500 million is also a compromised and agreed upon figure but is insufficient in view of the fact that moneys exceeding the above amount will be necessary to eliminate, reduce, and rectify the poor conditions in which we exist. The moneys will be needed to establish business enterprises in the form of commercial fisheries, timber/sawmill operations, gardening cooperatives, road construction, construction of better updated indispensable facilities like regional high schools, village schools, better and more adequately provisioned hospitals, establishment of credit unions, scholarship programs for our increasing number of Native students pursuing higher and better education. These are only a few of the many needs that will require monetary funds to put our State, regions, and villages on a sound economic base. Furthermore, the above amount is insufficient in view of the fact that our Federal Government spent millions and even billions of dollars sending rocket ships to the moon, exploring other celestial bodies, detonating megaton bombs, like on Amchitka and other places, and even more so when a small, tiny tract of our land cost 10 times as much as the original cost of the whole State of Alaska when the Russians sold it illegally without our forefathers' knowledge and concurrence to our beneficial Government. Seventy-two million dollars was paid for a tract of land on the North Slope land and $7,200,000 was paid by the Government to the Russians, and we continue to suffer in the land of plenty.
Again, the 2 percent overriding royalty from mineral and oil reserves we are requesting a compromised and agreed upon figure which is but an invisible speck on a needle's point. This is so because it is becoming common knowledge that our land's natural wealth is abundant and enormous. This is evidenced by the discoveries of oil in the North Slope, Cook Inlet areas of our State. The moneys derived from overriding royalties will only supplement the $500 million we are requesting. The funds so becoming available will not but help enhance the socioeconomic conditions of our State. Our Federal Government is well know for its benevolent characteristics which is revealed by the presence of Federal and State agencies like the UPHS hospital, Alaska State Housing Authority, and others. However, even with these present, enough has not been accomplished. This can be clearly viewed in our region of 55,000 square miles which has only one hospital to serve the needs of the people, inferior, dilapidated housing, and so forth. Gentlemen, these are the conditions we are living in, are experiencing, and are desperately attempting to rectify. How successful we are in these attempts will depend on how this Alaska land claims issue is settled. The land, the moneys awarded for the relinquishment of Alaska Native land rights can only have returns in value. The returned values will be in the form of improved living environments and the betterment of humanity. The outcome of the Alaska Native land claims issue will reflect the wisdom, understanding, knowledge, foresight, insight, and realization of the conditions we live in by our great Nation's most distinguished, esteemed leaders. I am positively convinced that the American citizenry have seated in our Nation's Capital leaders with such traits who will not tolerate causes of human misery but will advocate eradication of such causes. No, I don't believe these leaders will allow American citizens to continue to suffer in the land of plenty.
Question: It is my understanding that $500 million and the overriding royalty proposed in one of the bills is compensation for rights taken rather than to rectify poor conditions. Is that not your understanding, sir?
Sir, I am not fully knowledgeable, but the $500 million that I hope to see or if we do get it, I know it will be put to good use to correct the conditions which exist.
Question: Where is your home?
My village is a small town of 400 people, the name is Kwethluk, Alaska, and it is 20 miles northeast of Bethel.
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.