Legislative Hearing Held for Landless Communities of Southeast Alaska

H.R. 2386 introduced by Congressman Don Young

The House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs held a hearing for H.R. 2386. U.S. Congressman Don Young, who introduced the bill, chairs the subcommittee. The federal legislation would recognize aboriginal land claims for five traditional villages that were excluded from the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), including Haines, Petersburg, Wrangell, Ketchikan and Tenakee.

 

Leo Barlow, Wrangell representative for the Southeast Alaska Landless Corporation (SALC), testified on H.R. 2386 urging members of congress to recognize the five “landless” communities. “The 3,425 Natives who originally enrolled to Haines, Ketchikan, Petersburg, Tenakee, and Wrangell comprised over 20 percent of the shareholders of Sealaska Corporation in 1972,” said Barlow. “Over the years we have received revenue-sharing distributions from Sealaska to section 7(j) of ANCSA, but have not enjoyed the social, economic and cultural benefits of owning shares in a Village, Urban, or Group Corporation.”

“Many of the Village or Urban Corporations in Southeast are bringing significant economic benefits to their communities,” said Sealaska director Richard Rinehart. “We have been deprived of the significant cultural benefit of owning an interest in lands located within and around our traditional homelands.”

In 1993, Congress directed the Secretary of the Interior to prepare a report examining the reasons why the five communities had been denied eligibility under ANCSA. The report concluded that the five communities meet the requirements to form Native Corporations. The report noted that, with the exception of Tenakee, the communities appeared on early versions of Native village lists and the subsequent omission was never clearly explained in any provision of ANCSA or in the accompanying conference report. 

U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan introduced a similar bill, S.872, in the Senate. 

While in DC, Barlow and Rinehart met with the Alaska Congressional Delegation and committee offices advocating for the passage of H.R. 2386 as well as S.872. “We need our landless community to reach out to congress and show support for these bills,” said Barlow. 

Landless community leadership:

  • Joseph Reeves (Ketchikan)
  • James Llanos (Ketchikan)
  • Leo Barlow (Wrangell)
  • Myrna Torgramsen (Wrangell)
  • Brenda Louise (Petersburg)
  • Cecilia Tavoliero (Petersburg)
  • Al Hill (Tenakee)
  • Tom Paddock (Tenakee)
  • Sue Folletti (Haines)
  • Harriet Brouillete (Haines)

 

Link to H.R. 2836 

Link to S.872

Link to ISER Study

 

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