"Arctic Slope Natives Withdraw from the AFN"

Southeast Alaska Empire, October 21, 1970, p.1

Anchorage (AP) — Charles Edwardsen Jr., Executive Director of the Arctic Slope Native Association, announced Tuesday his organization has decided to withdraw from the Alaska Federation of Natives.

Edwardsen said the decision was based on the association’s opposition to the AFN "philosophy" with regard to the pending native land claims bill in Congress.

He said the Arctic Slope Native Association has supported the AFN’s goal of a settlement of 40 million acres, $500 million and a 2 per cent overriding royalty on oil leases. But proposals currently under consideration are based on "social welfare," he said.

"The Eskimos of the Arctic Slope have asserted dominion over the entire 56.5 million acres of the Arctic Slope since time immemorial," he said. "Our ancestors have lived and died there for thousands of years. It is our land."

"We are being allowed to participate in a settlement whose framework is not based on rights in land, but rather is hinged on social welfare," Edwardsen added. "Both the AFN bill and the Senate-passed bill make population the basis for distributing the cash proceeds and for confirming title to land to the natives."

He charged the proposals "simply do not provide for a fair exchange between what is being taken from us and what we receive in exchange."

The Arctic Slope Association was one of more than 20 Indian, Eskimo and Aleut groups which formed the AFN to provide a unified voice in seeking a claims settlement.

Edwardsen warned has association is prepared to go to court, if necessary, to secure a settlement "that we and our children can accept with honor and dignity." He did not specify what action that might include.

Don Wright of Anchorage, newly elected AFN president, would not comment until he had Edwardsen’s statement, but he did say he does not regard the Association’s action as a complete withdrawal from the AFN.

"They have their special problems they want to emphasize," Wright said. "I think they'll still work with the federation. There doesn't seem to be any indication of a split or any disunity."

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