"Native Groups Unite: Inupiat Paitot, Dena Nena Henash, ANB to Affiliate"

By Thomas Snapp, Times Staff Writer

Tundra Times, June 17, 1963, p.1.


Steps to unite three large Eskimo and Indian organizations in Alaska was one of the chief highlights of last week's Tanana Indian Conference.

Upon an appeal by Steven V. Hotch, first vice president of the Alaska Native Brotherhood, the Dena Nena Henash officially agreed to affiliate with the Alaska Native Brotherhood, Southeastern Alaska organization, and the Inupiat Paitot, Eskimo organization.

The provision to affiliate was written into the constitution and bylaws of the Interior Indian organization, Dena Nena Henash, and will become effective upon ratification of the two other groups.

But both Hotch of the ANB, who made the proposal, and Howard Rock, executive secretary of the Inupiat Paitot, both special guests at the conference, expressed confidence that the affiliation would meet with the approval of their organizations.

The proposal for unity was also spoken of in high regard by William Paul, grand president emeritus of the ANB and one of its founders, and Alfred Ketzler, chairman of the Dena Nena Henash.

In a special interview with Tundra Times, Hotch explained that in 1912 when his organization was formed, the name "Alaska Native Brotherhood" was suggested by the late Peter Simpson of Sitka, who said he could visualize the day when natives all over Alaska would be organized.

"Tonight I am happy because I feel at last his dream has been fulfilled," Hotch said.

Later, Hotch added, when the official ANB emblem was designed another leader suggested of having an arrow drawn through the letters, "ANB."

The leader explained that before we native people had guns, we defended ourselves and killed our enemies with bow and arrows," said Hotch.

"He predicted in our convention of 1912 the arrow some day would land westward and keep on defending the native people, and I believe his prediction has come true here today.

Other highlights of the meeting was strong disagreement with Secretary of Interior's Alaska Task Force report on land claims and needs.

Citing the land recommendations as "inadequate," the Indian organization made a series of concise but far-reaching proposals of its own including changes in the current Native Allotment Act to allow securing several tracts of noncontiguous land, the need for leasing for native benefit reserved tribal lands and future withdrawals, and the need for Congress to define aboriginal land rights of the natives and to establish a forum in which their claims may be heard.

The organization, made up of delegates elected or appointed by the governing bodies of 23 villages, also recommended that the U.S. not divest itself of its title to the state of Alaska or any division thereof until natives gain title to their ancestral lands.

The group further asked that congressional hearings be held in Alaska concerning any legislation affecting land claims.

Most of the villages represented gave reports in a special section of the conference regarding difficult land problems confronting their villages.

Hunting and fishing problems included changes in the moose season, excessive license fees for taking and selling fish in small numbers, and some delegates stressed the need of stronger conservation measures and local control in the making of game laws.

Practically all the delegates stressed the need for taking ducks and the inappropriateness of the fall season when ducks are not available for taking in Alaska. They also brought out strict enforcement by federal fish and wildlife agents was hurting their attempts to earn a livelihood.

Lester Oliver, tribal chairman of the White Apaches, White River, Arizona, showed a technicolor movie illustrating the tremendous strides his people have made in economic development.

In a talk afterward, Oliver stressed that his people progressed very little years ago when they were hostile to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the state of Arizona. He said he slowly reversed this trend by having projects and ideas come from the people instead of government officials, and by urging cooperation.

Oliver said his people worked with the state through a Commission of Indian Affairs made up of an equal number of Indians and persons appointed by Arizona's governor.

Later in the conference, Robert L. Bennett, BIA area director, suggested that much might be accomplished by such a group, an Alaska Commission on Native Affairs. He said the group could push the state to action concerning native problems.

The one highly controversial item discussed at the conference, the proposed Rampart Dam, that could have been a "bombshell" turned out relatively quiet.

There were practically no comments by delegates against the idea of the project or the project itself. Colonel Kenneth Sawyer, head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, however, was questioned for a lengthy period concerning the effect upon the people in the area that would be covered with water.

Particular concern was repeatedly expressed that adequate compensation would not be paid for lands, property, and intangibles.

Upon close questioning, Colonel Sawyer admitted that the cost estimate of relocating and compensating people was only a "shotgun" guess. He also said that he did not know about, nor take into consideration, large blanket ancestral claims of the villages in the Rampart area.

He pointed out these were not shown on the records on file in the Bureau of Land Management office in Fairbanks.

Officers of the Dena Nena Henash elected for 1963 were: Alfred Ketzler of Nenana, president; Ralph Perdue, Fairbanks, vice president; Secretary-Treasurer, Charles Ryan, Metlakatla; and Sergeant at Arms, Richard Grant, of Tanana.

In addition to the president and vice president, the following were elected to serve on the organization's executive committee: Louise Tansy, William Fredson, Markle Ewan, Joe Newman, and Benedict Jones. Ewan was elected chairman.

Tanana was selected as the place for the 1964 meeting of the organization.

[Alaskool Home]