Murkowski, Sullivan introduce bill to get land from feds for Native corps in Southeast AK - Must Read Alaska
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Saturday, December 4, 2021
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Murkowski, Sullivan introduce bill to get land from feds for Native corps in Southeast AK

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Republican U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan introduced a bill Monday that would allow the Alaska Native communities in Haines, Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, and Tenakee to form urban corporations and receive land under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.

The bill would wrest Tongass National Forest land out of federal control and into the hands of newly formed Native corporations so it can be logged, mined, or developed economically.

This is essentially the same bill in that has been introduced in some form for 20 years, but Democrats typically won’t go along with it, since it would remove land from federal control.

ANCSA, signed into law by Republican President Richard Nixon in 1971, settled Alaska Native aboriginal claims with the largest land claims settlement in U.S. history, creating Native corporations to begin driving economic growth for Alaska’s indigenous people.

The five Southeast communities included in this bill were not included in ANCSA, which divided 44 million acres of land among more than 200 regional, village, and urban corporations to resolve land claims throughout Alaska. ANCSA was an essential step to being able to get the Trans Alaska Pipeline System completed, and the focus then was not on Southeast Alaska. ANCSA was prompted by the discovery of North America’s largest oil field in Prudhoe Bay in 1967, and geopolitical forces, led by an oil embargo from OPEC, that led to an oil shortage in the early 1970s. In order to get the oil out of Alaska and establish energy security, the pipeline had to go through what had been unresolved tribal territory.

ANCSA, passed by Congress with the help of U.S. Senators Ted Stevens and Mike Gravel and Congressman Nick Begich, declared “This act shall be regarded as an extinguishment of all previous aboriginal title.”

In exchange for some land, the Native corporations received $900 million and other lands.

Today those corporations are some of Alaska’s biggest economic engines and contribute wealth to Natives and non-Natives alike.

But there was part of the state that didn’t get included. The new legislation, the “Unrecognized Southeast Alaska Native Communities Recognition and Compensation Act,” aims to rectify that left-out portion of Alaska by amending ANCSA to provide each of the communities the opportunities it granted to other Native communities 50 years ago: the right to form an Alaska Native Urban Corporation and receive 23,040 acres, or one township, of federal land.

“The culture and heritage of Alaska Native peoples is intricately tied to the land on which they live. The unique regions they have inhabited for centuries are directly connected to their identity,” said Senator Murkowski. “Unfortunately, five communities were not afforded the same benefits under ANCSA – access to land – that were granted to others throughout Southeast. It is past time the federal government make good on its promises to each of the communities that were left out of this significant agreement. I’m proud to work with Senator Sullivan, Congressman Young, and local stakeholders to correct this decades-long wrongdoing and provide equity to these landless communities.”

“For years, Alaska Native residents in five southeast communities have been denied the land and opportunities afforded by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, a historic injustice that Congress has a duty to rectify. As we approach the 50th anniversary of the passage of ANCSA, I am hopeful my colleagues will recognize the federal laws and circumstances that uniquely impact Alaska and join Senator Murkowski and me in quickly advancing our legislation for the benefit of our constituents,” Sullivan said.

U.S. Congressman Don Young previously introduced similar legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

To read the legislation, click here. To see the Forest Service’s maps, click here.

The long-shot legislation is the result of extensive and ongoing outreach to people in Southeast Alaska. It identifies specific parcels of land to be conveyed to what would become new urban corporations in an area of the state that has been nearly locked down by the federal government to any economy other than fishing and tourism. The legislation also includes provisions to protect existing rights-of-way and many existing uses of those lands and to ensure that reasonable public access can continue.

In November 2020, Senators Murkowski and Sullivan and Congressman Young introduced their original landless legislation, upon which today’s newly introduced bill was built.

Following introduction, during an Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining (PLFM) legislative hearing, Senator Murkowski raised her bill, S. 4889, the ANCSA Fulfillment Act, a package which aimed to resolve a number of outstanding issues related to the landmark 1971 law, including authorizing the five landless communities in southeast Alaska to form urban corporations and receive lands. Senator Sullivan was a cosponsor of S. 4889. 

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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

  • Showboat legislation. They both know it won’t pass, but they can be seen “doing something conservative” to placate angry voters.

    Pretty much the same as when the Princess voted to repeal Obamacare when it had no chance of passing. When it did….

  • Anyone read today’s opinion piece by Frank Murkowski? “Accolades To Our Delegation.” A true fluff piece to support the Murkowski Dynasty.
    .
    “Lisa Murkowski has been successful in persuading the Democrat-controlled Senate, as well as the White House….”
    .
    “Our (Alaska) delegation has the seniority, and they have proven their effectiveness. In short, we would be smart to keep that seniority. ”
    .
    Thanks for your advice, former king Frank Murkowski. It’s now time for you to take off your pants and parade around in your underwear. And don’t forget to wear your little crown while your former subjects shove aside your stale, old cake. It’s no secret that Alaska’s Little Princess got all of her smarts from her wise, old Daddy.

    • I said all that? Geez, I never even took the Bar Exam.

      • Frankie, you’ve been sleeping since 1980. Without Nancy, you’ld still be explaining to the FDIC why all your former customer’s accounts don’t balance.

  • Is there an election anytime soon? I mean, she’s been a US Senator for 20 years, and now after having a serious contender to run against she announces this? Why not when Trump was in office? The likelihood of getting this passed was a lot higher then! But, mean tweets and such.

  • Let’s see……..
    Sullivan is married to a Native woman who gets Native corporation benefits. And, Lisa Murkowski’s family owns property in SE Alaska that is near the affected lands.
    And, Don Young’s two daughters and his grandchildren are Natives who also benefit from Native corporations.
    Yep. Our Delegation has no personal, special interests derived from federal legislation. Sorry. We Alaskans are on our own.

    • There wasn’t a lot of women around when Don came up. Many pilots and ground breakers marry natives. Might want to cut em some slack. Natives are nice folks.

      • Yep, Don was lucky to find Lou in Fort Yukon. She ran his congressional office in DC and his biennial campaigns out in the Bush.
        Don was never much of a boat pilot, or a congressman. But, he sure knew how to pick the pocket of billionaire’s in need of favors. There are more than a few highways, off-ramps, and streets that should he named Don Young Blvd., or, the Don Young Exit Ramp.

        • The Don Young exit ramp?
          I sure as heck hope so.

    • Glad to know that because of your cynical personal conspiracy theories, you’d rather let the federal government continue locking the land up, rather than return it to local, non-federal control. Very conservative of you.

      • Return it, as in give it back to the natives? Mighty white of you.

        • We got our 44 million acres. Only two things left; the landless Natives in SE AK, and Native vets allotments.
          We’re buying back whatever other parts of Alaska we want.

  • I love this, here in Juneau they push for the roadless rule, hate mines, want to restrict access. Now, Murkowski and Sullivan want to give the lands to native corporations. For what? To be logged, mined, and developed. The state will receive zero tax benefits. Watch, the Chinese will be courting these corporations with start up money and other incentives. The land? All will be pristine coastline.

    • I don’t like the Chinese either but the United States is into them for a pretty penny. They’re kind of like the world bankers. If Alaskan native corporations need a loan, there are plenty of sources to provide that. I’m not so sure that most native corporations need a loan. Some books that I’ve seen show that they are sitting pretty good.

  • So where’s the legislation to get us the REST of the “federal” lands back? Why is our state still a park for the Lower 48, rather than a self-determining entity? Natives already get “free” healthcare and a complete pass on policing their own communities; why give them more before the whole state gets what it had been promised?

  • Frank Murkowski’s piece today was accolades to his daughter.

  • As usual, I did all the work and Frankie takes the credit. He never did learn how to write his own articles. After 41 years, this queen is worn down.

    • Frankie and Lisa are two of a kind. Both require someone in the background to do their heavy lifting. Neither are high IQ types. Combined, they might barely hit triple digits.

  • Back in 2014, Kodiak Island went through Native Settlement Litigation. Leisnoi or Koniag declared they were truly the caretakers of the land during the court proceedings.

    Immediately following the court decision in favor of the native corporation, it established trespass zones along the many of the inlets preventing (without a trespass fee) all Alaskans access to nonnative lands for outdoor recreation and private land holdings.

    Simultaneously they clear cut many acres of trees creating a stark and alarming blight on the Emerald Island.

    SE Alaska Natives should be provided land with all Alaskans in mind. I encourage all Alaskans to check out the map with proposed land acquisitions, “https://www.withoutland.org/legislation-main”

    I would encourage all Alaskans to read the legislation and the FAQs found at “www.withoutland.org”

    • When you land on St Lawrence Island in the native village of Gamble, you’re greeted with a big sign telling you that you are on private property. A lot of people think that all land belongs to the people and the government and this simply isn’t true. Natives have had to fight in court to regain land that was legitimately theirs. They have a right to protect it and they have a right to make up the rules as they say fit. You don’t have to like it but you have to obey the law.

  • Buying off the natives, as usual

  • Next they’ll say that they’ll fight open
    ANWAR …..
    Oh wait……. NEVER MIND……..

  • Campaigning, they didn’t do sh– about the native veterans issue.

  • Why was this bill to wrest lands from the feds and give it to native corporations pushed during a much more friendly Trump administration? It might have passed. Now, Murkowski and Sullivan face a hostile Biden administration and then a democrat congress that wants Alaska to be one big National park. Lousy timing Fan & Lisa. But maybe it’s all just ‘virtue signaling’.

  • Good time to buy stock in PIP Printing, they’ll be cranking out those “NO TRESPASSING” signs like you won’t believe. Just note how many the Eklutna tribe have posted out between Eagle River and the Palmer Hayflats.

    • I think they’re just trying to identify private land the same as I would if I had owned the land. People come out of the city in Alaska and think it’s like it was in the 1940s and 1950s where you could go anywhere and do anything. Not so nowadays. Somebody owns that land and you have to respect those wishes just as if you were down in Ohio poaching deer on somebody else’s land.

      • Right to roam, its a basic human right, well according to the people the Eklutna tribe support politically. #more #democrat #hypocrisy #buildthemwalls

  • A low level attempt to curry the Native vote in the coming senatorial race. Sorry Lisa, we are onto your schemes!!

    • “Noble Native” myth notwithstanding, we learned the value of money. Lisa cast too many votes which hurt our bottom line. Audios Lisa, it’s all about the money.

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