"Borbridge Critical of Miller’s Claims Stand"

Southeast Alaska Empire, November 2, 1970, p.1

Warning that the Alaska natives may turn to court action on their land claims, the president of the Tlingit-Haida Central Council has come out in opposition to the state administration’s position on the claims.

John Borbridge, Jr., contrasted the state position with that of the Alaska Federation of Natives, then said in a memorandum to members of the council, "I oppose the position of the State of Alaska on the native land claims issue!"

He warned, "The desire of the State of Alaska to lift the land freeze, whether or not claims legislation passes Congress this session, will force the Alaska natives into the courts.

"We have avoided adjudications thus far; but we are prepared to fight for our rights in the courts if we must."

The AFN is seeking fee simple title including mineral rights to 40 million acres of land; $500 million in federal funds; and a two per cent overriding royalty on all mineral production in the state forever.

The state, Borbridge said, has supported a settlement of 10 to 12 million acres, without mineral rights; $500 million in federal funds; and no two per cent royalty.

Further, he said, the AFN has requested an extension of the land freeze if no claims settlement bill passes the Congress this session, while the state wants the freeze lifted in any case.

In addition, according to Borbridge, the Southeast Tlingit and Haida communities seek land around their communities as part of the claims settlement, while the state has indicated it "will accelerate its selection of Tongass National Forest land under the statehood act without respect to the desire of Southeast communities to receive land out of the National Forest as part of a land claims settlement."

Borbridge wrote that the "state administration, under the leadership of Gov. Keith Miller, has taken a position which would substantially reduce the size of a claims settlement."

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