"National Indian Congress Backs Alaska Natives on Land Claims"

by Gladys Reckley, Times Staff Writer

Anchorage Daily Times, October 26 1970, p.1

With the full support of the National Congress of American Indians, the board of the Alaska Federation of Natives was meeting today to map strategy for its push of a land claims settlement in the post-election session of Congress.

Don Wright, president of the AFN, said the board also would discuss the withdrawal of the Arctic Slope native Association from the AFN, although no official notice has been given.

The National Congress, which ended its week-long convention in Anchorage Saturday night, set settlement of the Alaska native land claims issue as its major priority of business.

The delegates gave "full support" Friday to two resolutions, one supporting the AFN position calling for a settlement of 40 million acres of land, $500 million cash and a 2 per cent overriding royalty on all state and federal leases.

The delegates also called on Interior Secretary Walter J. Hickel to "extend without modification" the land freeze on Alaska until such time as Congress has enacted legislation for the settlement of the claims. The freeze is due to expire Dec. 31 and Hickel has said he is considering a partial lift of the order.

"The NCAI will swing with the Alaska natives," said Jim Thomas, public relations director for the national organization. Thomas, a Tlingit from Yakutat, headquartered in Washington, D.C., said the NCAI will continue its lobbying efforts toward getting a bill through Congress in the post-election session. "Everybody should get behind getting a bill through congress without pressing their own particular interests . . . Congress will decide, using its own conscience," Thomas said.

Thomas said his organization would like to see a "unified effort" for settlement of the claims, regardless of any particular position held. He said this includes support of state and federal officials, the politicians, and all non-native Alaskans.

Thomas said to "completely cast aside what Congress has done to date would be extremely damaging."


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