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.
October 28, 1969
DEAR CONGRESSMAN ASPINALL: The people of Stebbins, Alaska, and the Stebbins Village Council would like to explain to you our position and feelings on the upcoming settlement in the U.S. Congress of our rights to our land, and who will get these rights.
We have lived in Alaska for longer than anyone can remember, even the oldest persons here. As far back as time goes there have been Eskimos here, and many of us had parents who came here from Nelson Island to the South.
We are concerned that we will not be able to own our land that we live on and that we hunt and fish on. The total majority of the people here in Stebbins live off the land, catching salmon in the spring and summer, berries in the summer and fall, bird eggs in the spring, and tom cods all the time, especially in the winter. Some of the men go king salmon fishing down to the Yukon for a few weeks, usually in June, and some get to go firefighting in the summer. Other than this, we live by the fish we catch or the game we shoot, such as seals, bears, reindeers, and whales.
We hope you see by this that we in Stebbins really need the land to live off of. But more than this, we want some security that our children and their children will also benefit from the land that has been ours since a long time. If a fair and just settlement is made, we will know that our future will be protected by the United States government. However, if we are only given a little land or a little money we will never again have the chance to get more, and instead of having the government protecting us we will have it selling our land to people from the outside who will come in and kill our animals and fish.
We feel that the AFN bill in Congress comes the closest to meeting what we think is fair. They want to use the money for community projects and for better housing and food. They want all of us to own our own land, even in our fish camps and our hunting camps. We hunt a lot on Stuart Island and fish a lot all the way down the coast to Picmictalic, and if we canít own this land, then the State might take it and sell it to anyone who wants it, and then we would not have anywhere to fish.
We are Eskimos and we are proud of it! We are wise in the ways of our land and how to survive. We can live in freezing cold weather where others would die We can take our boats in stormy waters where other would drown. We can survive here. But we donít want to just survive. We want to get ahead. So please listen to us when we write and speak about why we need the land, because we live here and we know what we need, better than a man who has never lived through the storms and cold like we have. We ask you to help us to retain the land that is ours and to help us and our children to build a future that is bright and happy.
The People of Stebbins,
The Stebbins Village Council.
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.