Congress Fulfills ANCSA Promise to Sealaska

The 113th Congress approved S.340

Sealaska is celebrating the passage of H.R. 3979, which includes the Sealaska land entitlement bill, a comprehensive and visionary solution to many issues facing Southeast Alaska.. Through this legislation, Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people of Southeast Alaska will be conveyed 70,075 acres promised under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) of 1971.

“On behalf of the board we want to express our heartfelt appreciation to the Alaska delegation and Sealaska staff, some of whom are no longer with Sealaska, who worked tirelessly to make this a reality,” said Sealaska Chair Joe Nelson. “Over the course of a decade many people have dedicated their time and energy to fulfill this effort, the benefits of which will be felt for generations to come.”   

“Words cannot describe how pleased we are that this lands bill has passed through Congress,” said Sealaska President and CEO Anthony Mallott. “This is a monumental step to achieve our strategic plan of growth and profitability while maintaining important cultural priorities. I want to thank all the stakeholders who collaborated and partnered with Sealaska to make this happen.”

The bill represents hundreds of community meetings with local business owners, conservation groups, government leaders and Sealaska shareholders.

Under the bill, 70,075 acres will be returned to Native ownership through Sealaska, including:
490 acres of cultural significance with 76 sacred sites
1,099 acres for potential renewable energy opportunities as agreed upon by local partners
68,486 acres for natural resource development

“Sealaska is responsible for providing meaningful economic and social benefits to shareholders,” said Rosita Worl, who chairs the Sealaska Lands Committee. “The board designed this legislation to support economic and cultural sustainability as well as economic diversity beyond timber development and this legislation will help us achieve these objectives.”

“I participated in almost all stakeholder meetings to find support and consensus for our bill,” said Sealaska VP General Counsel and Corporate Secretary Jaeleen Araujo. “I want to thank the tribes, Native leaders, local communities and others who engaged in this process to secure this land for the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people.”

Sealaska’s current land base of 290,000 acres, together with the acreage in the new legislation, represents two percent of the Tongass National Forest or a fraction of the traditional homelands of Southeast Alaska Natives.   

Under ANCSA Section 7(i) revenue sharing provisions Sealaska will continue to share its natural resource revenue with all Alaska Natives, regardless of where they live. Sealaska will also be able to contribute to the economy and help maintain a sustainable timber industry, built on strong land stewardship. Our scientific and Native values approach to land stewardship aims to provide both current and long-term benefits to our shareholders.

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