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 RONALD SENUNGETUK (spoken)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I am honored and I am grateful to be here. I will make some remarks on the statement I prepared for you, first, on my own educational background. I was raised here in Alaska, but I went outside for a while and then came back and I have lived mostly up here in Alaska for most of my life. I was in Rochester, N.Y., for my college years. My years there were interrupted by the Army for a couple of years. Then after the Army I came back to Rochester to finish, and then applied for and received a Fulbright Scholarshlp to study in Oslo, Norway. When I came back from Oslo, I came back to join the University of Alaska as a visiting Carnegie professor when I started the art departmentís metalcraft program.
I have been involved here in Alaska for the past 8 or 9 years in various art programs, and as a citizen of the State of Alaska I most recently have served as a member of the Alaska State Council on the Arts. Just recently I served as consultant and guest speaker at Washington, D.C., with the National Endowment on the Arts Conference. I was privileged to be with the Congressman from South Dakota, Ben Reifel, on a discussion on the Indians and their arts.
To cover briefly where I came from, I come from Wales. Wales is located on Seward Peninsula on the Bering Strait. I was raised, I lived in Wales for 15 years before going away from Wales to go to school in Sitka. At Wales we spoke English, not English, but Eskimo, mostly Eskimo. Although I understood English, I really didnít speak it until I left Wales.
I remember the time when I left Wales. Going by airplane from Nome to Sitka, I had to copy, in a sense, other people using forks and spoons. So it has been kind of like this ever since that time, to observe another culture. In a sense, then, this makes you a bicultural person.
I observed some of the changes in Wales. I appreciate the things that were a method up there at that time. I feel the Eskimo is not as well spoken today, and, on the other hand, English is not well spoken, either, so I feel that the culture is becoming, is developing to some sort of gray area, and as a person I am very much interested in getting some kind of a change in this. I would like to see it going from gray to something exciting, and I believe that some of these activities we are talking about today will help give it roots, to give the people identity again.
I was privileged to be in Greenland just two summers ago to observe educational opportunities there as compared to here. There I noticed they were very proud people. The foods, some of the foods are basically Eskimo. Their language is Eskimo, it is written, it is taught in schools. So they have allowed their culture to become a culture of today, I feel, in a very fine manner.
I was going to comment on leaders, but this has been taken care of for the most part of the day.
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.