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 SAM KITO, PRESIDENT, FAIRBANKS NATIVE ASSOCIATION (spoken)
My name is Sam Kito, I am president of the Fairbanks Native Association, and I am presently employed with RCA Service Co. at Delmore Creek as an operations controller.
Before I go any further, I would like to apologize for not being here earlier this morning, but I had a little car trouble on my way.
I would like to state now that I have been employed by RCA since 1962 and I have traveled throughout the State with the organization on different jobs and I have also been to Florida with RCA, transferring back up here 2 years ago.
I also would like to inject now that I am on the board of directors of the Tundra Times, and I am chairman of the Fairbanks Opportunities Industrialization Corp. As the Congressman from Philadelphia probably knows, this corporation was founded in Philadelphia in 1964 to assist underemployed and undertrained people. We are moving this corporation into Alaska, into the Fairbanks area, and we hope to open our first prevocational class the first part of November.
I am also active in the Fairbanks Jaycees and have been since I was 27 years old. I would like to give just a brief background of Fairbanks Native Association.
Like Mr. Perdue stated, we were incorporated as an organization by Ralph Perdue and Nick Gray basically to assist in education and solving the land problems. We also right now oversee the regional boarding home school or boarding home project in the State of Alaska, whereby students from the villages come into Fairbanks to live in foster homes, as you might call it. I think right now we have somewhere in the order of better than a hundred students in this program.
We as the Fairbanks Native Association were also very instrumental in the development of the regional high school program which is now becoming a reality through the State of Alaska. This brings students closer to home and we feel that our organization has been beneficial in this field.
That is all of the statement.
Question: What is your native village?
Petersburg in southern Alaska. I was born in Petersburg and I am presently a permanent resident of Fairbanks.
Question: And you belong to what Native group?
Question: Were you present when I asked Mr. Peterson the question that I did about the transfer of the stock ownership of the regional corporation?
Yes, would you like me to comment on it?
Question: I would like to have you comment on it also.
I believe that the 20 year period is needed because we are talking about a people that are going to be able to have to cope with large amounts of money and be able to operate within a corporation, and the longer the period up to 20 years, just gives them the opportunity to transform into the operations so that they will be able to better know how to utilize their votes and their stocks over. In other words, I think it is an educational period and sometimes educational periods are, in matters such as this, they do not happen very fast, and a 20-year period, I believe, will give them the opportunity to do this.
Question: I have a quick question. Assuming that each town were assigned the township or, whatever amount of land you are asking for, two or three or 10 or half or whatever, would the title to this land, if it is what you are asking, will the title rest in the name of the village, the particular village, in the name of the regional corporation, or in the name of the State corporation, do you know how you want it?
I think I would like to see the title remain in the village corporations. In other words, the four townships or whatever is being proposed now, this doesnít mean that if some village may want some of the land outside of the townships, in other words, it wouldn't all be granted in and around the village, then just conglomerated in that area.
Question: What I am wondering about is the title to the land.
The title to the land, I would favor it remain with the village corporations.
Question: Is this the position of the Alaska Federation of Natives?
Question: Would you be in favor, then, of the local corporation transferring the homesite to the individual, legal title to the individual?
It may not happen initially, but as the people prove competence, that they are able to show that they can own a homesite and build as individuals within the village, yes, the title should, because they would also be owning and building homes. This is a second step in our system of ownership, and this is where we start. I think we should start ownership right on the village level, that when they are capable of retaining title to the land and build a home on their land, then, yes, I believe they should.
Question: Let's get down to the town of Sitka where you have some of the Natives there who have built homes. They do not own but they've got their homes there. We were in some that were fine; we were in some that left a great deal to be desired. Should not those individuals who already have those homes built be entitled to a deed to that piece of property rather than say it went to the corporation? Should it depend upon the director of the corporation as to whether or not that individual received a deed for his property?
I believe that they should get title to the land if they are building on the land.
Question: Suppose a lot are already built there?
Then in this case I believe they should have title to the land that they built on.
Question: So that a provision that says that those areas where you have established towns and townsites, those people who have homes, should get title at once, do you think that?
Question: Where were you educated, where did you go to school?
I went to grade school in Petersburg, high school in Petersburg, Alaska, also. I started college and I didn't finish. I went in the service, the Marine Corps. Upon release from the Marine Corps, I went to school at RCA Institute in New York under the BIA scholarship program which is for their electronic technician program.
Question: I want to commend you on the job that you are doing. Do you think a certain amount of the money that is paid in settlement should be set aside for education, both vocational and otherwise, in this bill?
Yes, I do, but I don't believe that it should be a fixed amount, because sometimes education needs vary, depending on the time. There are times, if it was a fixed figure, you would not utilize everything and there are times when you would overexpend it and thereby cut people out of the program.
Question: But it would be a bulk sum of so much which would be put on the list until it is necessary to use it. To begin with, you probably wouldn't be using any of the principal.
As long as it is not prorated that you utilize so much every year, in other words, If you can vary the amounts that you use over the period of time, or, you know, just to say that this is there and then the regional and the village corporations and your statewide corporations would be able to identify what they need for the certain period of time. If it is flexible in that sense, that is the way I would like to see it.
Question: Sam, do you think it would be a desirable thing for the purpose of the legislation to indicate that certain amounts or that some amount would be spent for education or for other purposes, or do you feel that the statewide organization, the Alaska Federation of Natives and the regional and the local organizations should make a decision based upon their needs on how this money should be allocated and spent?
In the field of education, I think that it wouldn't hurt to have a certain portion of it allocated in the bill. That is not to say now that your regional corporation or your statewide corporations don't have the ability to make a judgment. If it is the case that there is a portion earmarked from Congress for the field of education, it is very important to the people, and there are fallacies within the system. There is a possibility that there may not be, that the educational funds, if it was to be decided by your corporations, there is a possibility in the future that the educational funds may not be, may be depleted. As long as it is there, that is fine. But if it is the feeling that the statewide corporation has the ability to distribute the funds for education, then we can go that way, too.
Question: Do you think it would be desirable to have a provision in the bill that would prevent the alienation of a majority of the stock of the regional corporation outside of the Native community? In other words, you are talking about a 20-year period in which it could not be alienated, could not be given to someone else. Do you think there should be a provision that would say that at no time can more than a majority of the stock or majority be alienated from the Native ownership?
Up to 49 percent, I would say.
Question: What would be your proposal, Mr. Kito, about not spending the principal, say that you were awarded the $500 million, and investing that money, say, 8 percent would be $40 million a year? I know there is some thought being given now to perhaps the State of Alaska not spending the $900 million, and of course, others would say, well, let's spend it all. What would be your feeling on that, that that would be a permanent fund and only the interest from that be used for that purposes?
My feeling there is I don't see that we should tie a corporation this large to just being able to spend the interest, because there are times that you can invest the money and you may go into the principal, but the return on your investment would be such that you should, you know, utilize a bigger percentage. But, you know, you may want to go into the capital of the settlement in order to achieve these goals. By being tied to just utilizing the interest, there may be projects or businesses or something that I might want to get into that you may not have the capital without going into the principal but the return would justify the means.
Question: What I am talking about is investing those $500 million, if that is the figure, within certain guidelines. Yes, not spend it for programs or anything like that, the $500 million, but use just the income, just the interest. I am not talking about interest on the Government bond or interest just on deposits, invested in certain areas that are approved in such a way that you can invest and have a return for it, but never spend the principal for a program.
I think that your village corporation, your regional corporations and statewide corporations will have the expertise and they would be able to justify if they ever did. I would not want to see it tied down to just being able to spend the interest, because we have programs within the rural areas of the State that we may go into the spending of it to bring up our water and sewer system and housing systems. For the first few years there is a possibility that we wouldn't be able to do it with the interest. But I think that the corporations would have the ability to judge, if they ever did go into the principal, whether or not it is justified for the expenditures.
Question: Do you think it would be improper, then, for the bill to stipulate that only the interest could be spent and not the principal?
Question: I would like to get a comment from the witness, for whom I certainly have respect, on a program that the chairman and Mr. Berry and several others among the committee have been discussing as to the possibility of securing the participation of the State with resources in the overall objectives of the legislation we have here. If, following along the lines that the gentlemen from Alaska has discussed, a dedication of a certain percentage of the money that is provided for in this bill were made to the field of education with a provision that a certain percentage of that money should go to the public schools, a certain percentage of it to the University of Alaska, and its extension division, with the requirement that these funds be spent on public schools, the upgrading of those public schools and extension of the activities, scholarships, and fellowships and so on to the University of Alaska to serve the Native communities, to serve the villages, the areas in which you do have a real requirement for improvement of educational opportunity, if this were done on a matching basis, where certain amounts of money from the Federal Government were dedicated to that purpose on condition that the State match those funds dollar for dollar, do you believe that we would have success in getting the cooperation of the State in such an endeavor and do you believe that such a program would meet with the support of the Native people?
As to securing the State's cooperation on this, I believe that we would probably have to consult the State and talk to them and explore this route. I believe that the people would support it for the simple reason that the State is now in the process of taking over the schools in the rural areas of the State, and it is being done on the transfer of BIA schools to the State, and we have regional advisory school board members throughout the State, and I am sure that for me to comment right now on this as to my feeling, I think that I would probably consult with the regional boards as to their feelings when they start meeting and discuss the projects such as this, because they may have other plans right now, and this may be in conflict with these plans.
Question: I recognize you can't commit any organization, but I was wanting to get your personal reaction to such a program.
To such a program, my personal reaction would be in the affirmative.
Question: I think I will take this time just to ask you a clarifying question. I assume that all of the answers that you have given with regard to the question of education and utilization of these funds which are proposed under the various bills are not in any sense meant to deteriorate from the responsibility of the State of Alaska to provide the quality of education for all citizens of Alaska, which include all people included in this bill.
Question: And that the funds contained in this bill and the revenues would be used primarily for special education programs, not to detract from the responsibility of the State to provide quality education?
Yes, I will agree with that.
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.