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.


For the record my name is William Lewis Paul. I am a legal resident of Juneau, Alaska but now living in Seattle, Washington because my wife can get the kind of medical service there she needs. She and I have grown old together during the 58 years of our married life for I am now in my 85th year. My life almost spans the years when nobody seriously denied that the Indians and other Natives of Alaska were the true owners of all the land called Alaska.

My mother remembered when the American soldiers came to my town of Wrangell, a town we called by an unpronounceable name by you but which means something to us but of no emotional meaning to you. It emphasizes the difference between the attitude of the real owners and you of the white race. To the white race land is land but to us our land is associated with our traditions and history from time immemorial. When I asked my mother "who am I and from whence did I come" she answered, "your grandmother 12 generations ago was Kah-kli-yudt who married our head chief named Goo-glow whose brother was Goo X-nah-woo whose other name was Snook. We then lived at…" and then she went on and on describing where we came from, where we tarried, at what point this group splintered off to form their own nation and are now called…all of which I can verify from memory.

I suggest that this means nothing to you for under the scheme of congressmen you are dealing with the present. Still when you talk of Indian title, you use the phrase "use and occupation of land from time immemorial," a phrase that saves a lot of time but unfortunately for us is really meaningless. I say "meaningless" because you are seriously considering the claim of ownership advanced by the State of Alaska which only came into existence a few years ago.

The State’s claim is based on a law creating the Territory into a State conditioned however by a section in which the proponents said:

Sec. 4. "As a compact with the United States and its people do agree that they forever disclaim all right and title to any lands or other property not granted or confirmed to the State…the right or title to which may be held by said Natives…"

In every deal the United States has made with Indians, we always come out with less and I think that is what the result will be now. Your theory of land title for Indians is not the same as for whites. You seem to have repudiated the classic definition uttered by Chief Justice John Marshall in what we now call "the Indians’Bible" namely the case of Johnson vs. McIntosh recorded 8 Wheat. 543 in 1823 which I will read just to refresh your memory;

"This principle, acknowledged by all European nations, because it was the interest of all to acknowledge it, gave to the nation making the discovery,…the sole right of acquiring the soil and of making settlement on it. It was…not one which could annul the previous rights of…(the) aboriginal occupants. It gave the exclusive right of purchase."

The second chapter of the Indians’ Bible, namely, the case of Mitchell v. United States decided in 1835 and recorded in 9 Peters 711;

"Indian possession or occupation was considered with reference to their habits and modes of life; their hunting grounds were as much in their actual possession as the cleared fields of the whites; and their rights to its exclusive enjoyment in their own way and for their own purposes were as much respected, until they abandoned them (2) made a cession to the government, or (3) an authorized sale to individuals."

" It is enough to consider it as a settled principal, that their right of occupancy is considered as sacred as the fee-simple of the whites." Pp. 745-747.

This is the rule of law laid down by a court which was created by the constitution and which operates within the limits laid down by Congress. This court acknowledge that possession of our lands on a claim or discovery was immoral, but said its Chief Justice, this court could not challenge its creator but must abide by the rules laid down. And so we are now faced by the one power that can deal out justice.

You can do justice without equivocation or simple evasion. I will not say anything at this time about the false claim that Russia conquered Alaska, false because that claim is based on the allegations of a nation whose duplicity and whose conduct toward others has been exposed and revealed to the civilized world, and you being under a duty to protect the United States know this full well.

But I will ask those of you who visited Barrow and the Arctic slope if you have any doubt about the claim of the Eskimos that they alone used and occupied all that area. Is there one of you who would of your own free will and choice make a home there, marrying a woman indigenous thereto or bringing your bride and raise your children there? Are you not wondering why these Eskimos stay in what many call "God forsaken country". Who disputes their ownership?

I was in our delegates office when Sourdough Smith in 1922 came back from Barrow and announced to the world that he had discovered a great lake of petroleum and on the strength of this claim, the Explorers Club of New York made him a member as did the Cosmos Club of Washington and other honors were given him. I then asked him:

"Didn’t the Eskimos know about this lake within 50 miles of their village?" to which he answered, "Oh, yes". But the United States immediately created the "Naval Petroleum Reservation No. 4" without inquiring if the area was owned by the Supreme Court’s formula or not, and ever since, the United States has denied the Eskimos access thereto until by act of congress they are permitted to use the gas that formerly was piped right past their doors.

I was raised in a mission school and guided by my saintly mother; I went to church twice a Sunday and listened to sermons on texts one of which sad; "what doth God require of man but to do justly, love kindness and walk humbly with thy God".

But what is this I see; agents of the Bureau of Land Management approving the applications for homesteads whose lines came plumb up to the doors of our great community houses; trade and manufacturers sites that cuts off the only water available to villages of several hundred natives; soldiers’ script selections that appropriated half the water-front of an Indian village fostered by one of our great churches; and now you are here to decide why the British Petroleum Exploration Company should not keep their great pumps going tho planted in the very midst of our sacred grave yards now empty they say because the descendants of the Britishers who were driven out of Boston Harbor by your ancestors have indeed thrown the bones of these brave people to one side.

They could have bargained with us to seek the black gold that seems to have demoralized the conscience of governors, lieutenant governors, cabinets, and indeed almost the entire white race. Do you deny this? Learn something of the history of white migration. Every town which you now call "white" was an Indian village – Ketchikan, Wrangell, Juneau, Douglas, Skagway, Haines, Anchorage, Cordova, and the rest. The so-called pioneers were welcomed by us. We gave them land to build houses, before that we took them in and gave them our most beautiful girls, girls whom we loved preciously because we though the white man was the promised supernatural being who came from beyond the horizon and so we called them "gooze-ki-qwon".

Congress made a law which required secretarial approval before whites could buy Indian title land. But none of these sales have been so approved. I am heir to some such land but cannot get title. However if I would quitclaim it to a white man and if he applied for an unrestricted deed, it would be given.

Will you allow me to cite three or four incidents to illustrate my statements?

The case of Frank St. Clair wherein he applied for a patent to his residence in a small bay, he was opposed by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. He won his case and figured it was finished. But it wasn’t. By agreement with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, his 160 acres were cut down to 9.8 acres because said the two departments, he didn’t need more.

In the Juneau case, the agent of the Bureau of Land department surveyed tightly around the Indian village and approved a homestead application. In another Juneau case, the light company build their tanks and told the Indians that they left a path so that the Indians could go to the other half of their village. Today that path is closed altogether.

You could see the Indian village of Sitka where a thousand Indians are confined within an area of ¼ mile, and then gave out deeds whose boundaries were traced by a non-resident of the village.


Do you doubt that the Eskimos occupied all this land? Secretary Julius Krug testified before your committee that it took over 150,000 acres to enable an Eskimo family to earn a subsistence of $1200 per annum. Why do these natives stay in such a forbidding country? The answer is plain to us who know them and who know our own people. Perhaps your tears have flowed when you read Hale’s Man Without a Country and read;

Lives there with soul so dead

Who never to himself hath,

This is my own, my native.

This is our land. There lies the graves of our ancestors. There too are buried our recent loved ones, a child, a wife, a father. This land is our land even under your own rules, and yet here comes respected agents of the State of Alaska who say Congress gave it to the State and as they argue their case, never do they repeat the section which disclaims their right to appropriate land owned by the Natives of Alaska.


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.

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