Interior reversal: Native Vietnam vets can apply for their land allotments - Must Read Alaska
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Saturday, July 24, 2021
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Interior reversal: Native Vietnam vets can apply for their land allotments

The Biden Administration, bowing to stinging criticism, has done a 180-degree turn on a decision it made that was deeply hurtful to Alaska Native veterans.

In the early days of the the new White House, Joe Biden had reversed the progress made by President Donald Trump that made good on a promise to Alaska Natives who were serving in Vietnam when the Alaska Native Land Allotment was passed.

After taking criticism for delaying the program for these aging veterans, the Interior Department on Monday said Alaska Native veterans from the Vietnam era can apply for and receive land allotments of up to 160 acres.

Other land orders from the Trump administration have been kept on hold by the Biden Administration, while it undergoes a two-year review of the Trump decisions to open land in Alaska for energy and mineral development.

The Department of Interior believes about 700 families are still eligible for the land program, but it has not been able to locate them. People who served between 1964 and 1971 who are Alaska Native, and their descendants may qualify.

If you know someone who is directly related to an Alaska Native who served during the Vietnam War, you can have them reach out to the Bureau of Indian Affairs at 907-271-4506. Due to privacy rules, the bureau cannot release the names of those it believes to be eligible.

The Interior Department’s statement is at this link.

More information is at this link.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Good

  • The administration was directly attacking Alaska native veterans. Typical democrat action. I would say thanks, but they were wrong to begin with.

  • Is there an equivalent program for every other Alaskan VNV to get free land as well or is it just the one special interest group?

  • Trouser: Does your property title have a covenant which forbids resale to a Native? There’s still lots of legacy titles that have that … and many of the new titles have a covenant which says that the resale must be approved by a homeowner’s association … same effect, not to be resold to Natives.
    So, who’s the special interest group again?

  • What about me? As a veteran, why don’t I get free land? Is the government giving our free land because this country was founded on slavery or injustice against something or someone? Would the natives fared so much better if the US had not purchased Alaska from the Russians? I guess according to this President’s Administration it is the case. Free land for what and why?

  • Now all they have to do is offer parcels that aren’t in some forsaken nowhere that even a helicopter would have a hard time getting to.
    Have you looked at the areas offered so far? Like anyone in their 70’s and 80’s are going to back-pack fifty to a hundred miles into and build a cabin?
    And you whiners … so far we’ve been offered the equivalent of nothing. Parcels that you wouldn’t even bother to stake.

  • DJ my man, if you have been offered a parcel that is equivalent to nothing, then let me tell you where you can donate to good cause. We will be waiting for you to volunteer your free land to good cause.

    You are the face of a spoiled, tanturm-like, give me-give me child. To see you given something which the rest of us have to spend thousands and thousands of dollars to purchase when we sacrificed as much as you and maybe more, and hear you complain about the free land as being worthless is disgraceful to the rest of us veterans (that is if you are one). Let me tell you, you should take your complaint and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine.

    What an ungrateful person you are and a bad example of veterans of honorable service, bad example of Americans of proud tradition, and bad example of a free people that have defended liberty to make the country the example of envy of nations all over. Be better, live better, walk worthy!

  • Agree with this decision or not the sudden and total 180 by the illegitimate Resident Biden highlights the biggest problem with American government at every level…the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
    Politicians who suddenly reverse course because of criticism, deserved or not, are weak.
    If the idiot Biden had legitimate objections to this special interest land allotment scheme that were based on the constitution or the law then he should have issued a policy statement full of well researched and thoroughly thought out rationales and then he should have stood by it.
    Instead he’s just another cowardly career politician who gets jerked this way and that with his course determined by the loudest and most obnoxious voice that last screamed in his ear.
    All governmental decisions should be based on the constitution and the laws and not on special interests, no matter how deserving we might all agree they are.

  • JOHN BONFREY: Don’t talk down to me and call me “my man”. I’m not. Don’t try to take the moral high ground and pontificate, because you don’t have the finesse to make it work. Don’t assume a cloak of honor simply because you served, it sounds hollow. Don’t wallow in righteous indignation because I will simply get dirty and you will enjoy it. Don’t try to pull me down to your level of argument because I will only become annoyed, and you will beat me with experience.
    All of the land offered so far is off-road, remote, rocky, muskeg. It’s the result of a “poison pill” in the administration of the bill which removed any lands even remotely of commercial value. It had to be some Machiavellian racists within the BLM, who did this.
    I began my comment with “Now all they have to do is…” which is an indicator that I was speaking directly to the BLM, letting them know that some of us are wise to their game. A public shot across their bow.
    Are you with the BLM? If not, then you have no dog in this fight. Buttinsky out!

  • JOHN BONFREY: I will offer my appreciation to you for turning my feeble opinion into a more interesting dialog. It will get more attention than otherwise.
    You must not have read through some of my other dialogs here on MRAK, or in the ADN as “my2cents”. Drawing opponents into a dialog is my habit and practice. Doesn’t matter who “wins”. It’s getting the readers attention which is all that matters.

  • The allotments served a specific purpose to insure families could access and maintain camps associated with life based on the lands and waters. Vietnam vets now are old men, at the time they were drafted they were essentially kids, just old enough to be trained to fight for Uncle Sam. The application process is not something that 17 to 20 year olds from rural Alaska were partial too, particularly when sent to boot camp and then overseas. We have seen the same callous attitude over the decades when servicemen overseas cast votes and they are rejected or received too late to be counted due to the concern that military votes, at least used to be, predominantly Republican.
    In the intervening decades, rural Alaska has been fully ghettoized, most young people have lost all connection with the lands and waters, dependent on government handouts, most of the jobs are administering government or corporate programs, with women holding them, leaving the young men adrift. The days of men spending early winter fur trapping from remote camps, and entire family at fish camp all summer, or spring musk rat hunting are mostly over. Now its hard to motivate young men to get off their Grammas’ couch to go catch a caribou or moose with her snogo, rifle, shells and gas. Our families were forced to give up our grandparents languages, learned from birth and relevant to everyday life out camp or in process of life’s events. Now half ass “government” programs of language education make a mockery of what a language is to a culture.
    The idea that 60 years later, a few Vietnam veterans might be able to gain title to lands that are specific to each individual from centuries of family attachment is controversial is pathetic. Allotments are specific locations with documented use by that family or individual. By definition, this normally indicates centuries of use, often ancestors are buried nearby. There is no thanks to any politician, this situation is a disgrace that it has taken so long.

  • Somebody made a phone call. I wonder who. Having demonstrated (like Lisa), that she can get rolled, I wonder what else Deb will get rolled on. The possibilities are endless. Cheers –

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