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Congressman Don Young Introduces Legislation to Rectify 50-Year Injustice Keeping Land from Southeast Alaska Native Communities

Washington, D.C. Today, Alaska Congressman Don Young introduced legislation to allow the Alaska Native communities of Haines, Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, and Tenakee to form urban corporations and receive land entitlements under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA). During ANCSA’s drafting process, these five Southeast communities were not included, preventing them from receiving land entitlements from the 44 million acres divided by the bill. Congressman Young’s legislation rectifies this injustice by amending ANCSA, giving these communities the right to form an Alaska Native Urban Corporation and receive federal land — the same treatment other Southeast Native communities received a half-century ago. Text of the bill can be found here.

"For too long, the so-called 'landless' Alaska Natives, from the communities of Haines, Ketchikan, Petersburg, Tenakee, and Wrangell, have been denied the land and local resources that other village and urban corporations received under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) of 1971," Congressman Don Young said. "This was an error that should have never happened, and I have always fought to secure the recognition that these communities deserve. Access to land is crucial, and will help bring economic opportunity and upward mobility to the Alaska Natives in Southeast. Today, I am very proud to introduce the Unrecognized Southeast Alaska Native Communities Recognition and Compensation Act. Just as we have with Alaska Native communities across our state, this bill would finally amend ANCSA to provide each landless community with the right to form an Alaska Native Urban Corporation, making them eligible to receive 23,040 acres of federal land. I am grateful to have the support of Southeast's Alaska Native communities as partners in this important initiative, and I sincerely appreciate the extensive input and engagement from stakeholders. Securing a better tomorrow for Alaska Natives starts with ensuring fair treatment under the law. I ask my friends on both sides of the aisle to stand with us in the critical and long-overdue effort."

“We will call upon all of our shareholders, Tribal citizens, and non-Tribal citizens alike, to continue supporting our efforts to right a wrong that has gone on far too long. We will work together to help address misconceptions and opposition in our local communities, and allow our communities to see the positive effects of corporate operations in Native communities,” said Randy Williams, Ketchikan Landless Shareholder and Southeast Alaska Landless Corporation Director.

“I’m headed to my hometown of Petersburg this week to enjoy MayFest. It’s the perfect example of how strong culture can drive commerce in our communities. The Landless Natives of Petersburg are looking for justice with their land back to have this same opportunity. We thank Congressman Young for getting the legislative process started in this current Congressional session,” said Nicole Hallingstad, Petersburg Landless Shareholder.

“We are very excited to hear of the bill’s introduction by Don Young earlier today. I would like to thank Congressman Young for once again fighting for our five unrecognized Landless Naive communities in Southeast Alaska to help us secure our land, provide community development and bring economic opportunities to our Indigenous Communities. We have not been idly sitting by waiting since the last Congress ended. We have been active meeting with the local governments, conservation groups and other interested parties.  We all know this is a matter of equity and it is not going away until this injustice has been corrected,” said Richard Rinehart, Wrangell Landless Shareholder.

This legislation is the result of extensive and ongoing outreach and collaboration with stakeholders in Southeast Alaska. It identifies specific parcels of land that would be conveyed to the newly-formed urban corporations, which are depicted on official maps produced by the U.S. Forest Service. Additionally, this bill also includes detailed terms to both protect many existing uses of those lands and to ensure that reasonable access for the public is maintained.

Click below for maps of proposed land selections for the aforementioned Southeast Alaska Native Communities:

Haines

Tenakee

Wrangell

Petersburg

Ketchikan

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