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.

Hon. James Haley

House of Representatives,

Washington, D.C.

I attended your committee hearing on the above subject matter in Anchorage, Alaska on October 18th from 8:00 a.m. until 3 p.m. in the afternoon. At that time you announced that you still had 25 people to hear from in the next two hours. I therefore decided to send you a written memorandum.

I would hope that you will make a very generous settlement. However, in making a generous settlement I would hope that you will consider the ramifications of your actions twenty-five, fifty and hundred years from now.

First of all the size of the land grant I believe important. I think that the Natives should get their historically used land but I think that land will constitute far less than 40 million acres. I think that one township per village is at least adequate. You could, if you desire, give some hunting and fishing rights for 25 years on some additional land; however, a fee simple title to anything above one township will create more problems than it will solve.

The land should vest in individuals as soon as possible. Under various proposals I know that most of the land would be inalienable for many years if conveyed to corporations. Further the land should be subject to state and local taxes.

The 40 million acres which was being requested by the AFN constitutes an area of land, for example, larger than the State of Pennsylvania. The Native population is somewhere between 30,000 and 60,000. To give the Native group 40 million acres with the right to select particularly non-contiguous land would completely end the land of the last frontier.

I would hope that the money settlement with the Natives would be a substantial sum. I think the basis of the settlement should bear some resemblance to what the United States has paid other Natives for aboriginal rights.

I believe that we definitely should not pay an overwhelming royalty in perpetuity and particularly the state should not participate in the settlement. The Natives, as a group, of course are members of the state and participate to the full extent in the revenue and assets of the state. To give them an additional large amount out of the stateís share would be manifestly unfair. Furthermore it will not result in bringing the Native more into the mainstream but rather perpetually exclude them.

It is assumed by most that there is considerable more ore and mineral development to occur in Alaska. But forgetting that for a moment, the Prudhoe Bay field as opposed to the entire North Slope will produce at least two million barrels of oil per day. This is the equivalent of $30 million dollars a year at 2% to the Natives of the state. There are somewhere between 30,000 and 60,000 Natives which results in the revenue of the Prudhoe Bay field alone being equivalent to somewhere between $500.00 and $1, 000.00 per man, woman, and child or between $2,500.00 and $5,000.00 per Native family. This is the type of preference which will not bring the Native into the mainstream but will take him right out of the mainstream. He will go from poverty to riches and never become part of the rest of our culture.

Of course, it is manifestly unfair to exact the state to pay for any part of the Native land claims, as I understand it no state ever before has been forced to pay for the settlement of aboriginal claims. Alaska because of the recent oil strike may be directed to do so.

Unquestionably, if you had settled the native land claims at the time of statehood, you would not be requested that the state participate in this program. However, since Congress has set on its hands for a hundred years, some congressmen now believe that the State of Alaska should break precedent and pay for the settlement of aboriginal claims.

I recognize you have a difficult job in arriving at a bill which will fairly and equitable solve the Native land claims problem and satisfy the majority of the people in the United States of America. I do want however to urge that you donít saddle us with a new impossible situation. We believe that we have been suffering from the intrusion of "do gooders" from the south 48 for a long time. Statehood was a great assistance to us and we began to develop our state. Now in an effort to be fair to the aboriginal descendants, we sincerely hope that you will look at all the ramifications of the possible actions you may take. I wish that each one of you could look at the final piece of legislation as if you were a resident of the State of Alaska and had to live with the final product. It may well be that a settlement which is too generous will reopen aboriginal claims in your own state.

Best regards.

TOM FINK

 

 

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.


[Alaskool Home]