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.
STATEMENT OF AGNES BROWN, FOR THE NATIVE VILLAGE OF TYONEK
(read written statement)
My name is Agnes Brown. I am from the Native village of Tyonek but presently residing in Anchorage. The Native village of Tyonek, made up of approximately 230 persons, located about 40 miles west of Anchorage on the shore of Cook Inlet has been extremely fortunate.
Good fortune began when the oil companies became interested in the reservation and in 1965 an oil lease sale, under the supervision of the Department of the Interior, produced bonus bids of $12 1/2 million.
One of the conditions of the sale required that the Council of the Native village of Tyonek consent to the leases. The Bureau of Indian Affairs attempted to have the council immediately approve all of the bids; however, the leadership group of the village did not agree with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and refused to sign any contracts to lease until the Bureau of Indian Affairs agreed that the village could direct its own planning and programming for the use of the proceeds of the sale.
As a result of this agreement with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Native people were able to develop and direct their own activities. The people of Tyonek secured the services of accountants, attorneys, architects and others in order to get capable advice and consultation. The council of the village became the decision making body for the community, and using information secured from its various consultants and advisors was able to develop its own comprehensive program.
It was necessary to establish priorities to meet the most serious problems faced by the village. At the time of the oil lease sale, the level of housing was extremely bad with as many as 12 people living in a single room of 16 by 20 feet in size.
A total community development program resulted through the efforts of the council working with various engineers and architects. The village secured an interest in the Braund Construction Co. and through the use of their own work force and the construction company completely rebuilt the village.
In 1965, there were approximately 24 inadequate dwellings, all of which have been replaced. There are now 60 all-modern, ranch-type houses and four mobile homes, permitting every family to be in its own housing unit. There is an adequate sanitary water system and all buildings have a safe sewage disposal system.
Through the use of natural gas, available on the reservation, the village generates the electricity with which to heat the homes. There is also over 8 megawatts of power available for sale to other buyers.
A new village-owned, modern school building consisting of four classrooms and a junior high size gymnasium is in operation. The village has operated its own Headstart program for 3 years and the academic level of the youngsters has been brought up from an average of 2 years behind to the norm or above the norm for youngsters their age.
A scholarship program is in effect. Four adults are presently attending college. There are two adults in a vocational training program and four additional adults are being considered for vocational training. Twenty high school age children are presently attending high school away from the village, with 19 in boarding school and one attending high school in Anchorage.
The village store and office buildings have all been renovated and are adequately staffed by members of the village. There has been considerable work done within the reservation by members of the village, including a roads system and recreation facilities. The airstrip, which was extremely dangerous, has now been widened and lengthened and will safely accommodate two-engine cargo aircraft.
Through the use of a family plan grant type program the village has given the opportunity to every enrolled adult member to secure adequate housing whether they live in Tyonek or elsewhere. The general health of all adults has been upgraded through purchase of private dental and medical care using budgeted funds.
In addition to the improvements made in Tyonek, the council has developed an investment program which is intended to protect the assets of the people and to provide the necessary income to maintain the activities of the village indefinitely.
Land was secured in Anchorage and two new office buildings valued in excess of $2 million have been built. Four additional office buildings have been purchased outright or are being purchased on contract.
Tyonek is the major stockholder in Braund, Inc., a major construction company now having over $10 million of work in progress. Tyonek owns 75 percent of the stock.
Tyonek also owns 67 percent of the stock of Central Alaska Utilities, a $12 million corporation providing sewer and water services to the Anchorage area outside of the city of Anchorage.
The village also holds a 50 percent interest in Spernak Airways, a charter air operation, servicing the west side of Cook Inlet and is the largest minority stockholder in Security Title and Trust Company.
The village of Tyonek is a Federal chartered corporation, organized under the Indian Reorganization Act, and has established a State-chartered nonprofit corporation, the Tyonek Management Corporation, for the purpose of operating and managing its investments in Anchorage.
While a number of Tyonek people are employed in the programs, Tyonek continues to employ such technical and professional help as is needed. It is the plan that with the accelerated programs in education, particularly with the members presently in college, that in a relatively short time Tyonek members will take over all of the management positions.
These results were achieved by a Native village, through its Native leadership with the help of specialists such as accountants, planners and lawyers, which the village hired to work for it.
No paternalistic federal bureaucracy supervised this activity. The results described could not have been achieved if the Village and its professional assistants had to work through layers of bureaucracy prior to undertaking any project. Tyonek Village has broken the dependency cycle which has gripped many Native peoples. As a result it has made tremendous progress. Progress has been made in both physical development of the Village and also in the development of the most important resource of any state - its people.
The Tyonek experience is an example of the capacity of Native leadership to effectively manage the assets that they have received. We believe that the Alaska Native people will be able to mange their resources if given an opportunity.
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.