Nine Southeast Communities Oppose Revised Sealaska Bill

photo credit: roy.luck

Ketchikan, Alaska – Nine communities in southeast Alaska said they oppose a bill by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to allow an Alaska Native-owned corporation to acquire some 70,000 acres of the Tongass National Forest, arguing the bill could threaten their livelihoods. A February letter from the nine communities have asked the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Energy Committee, Ron Wyden, to kill “special interest legislation” for Sealaska Corporation.

Calling the bill introduced by Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski “unfair and morally repugnant,” the towns pointed out that the bill would “create a new injustice against us” in the name of righting a wrong against them that was settled in 1971 when ANCSA passed. The towns pointed out to Wyden in a letter two weeks ago, that the best solution is for BLM to finalize Sealaska?s designation of land in 2008 which was put on ice.

History shows federal cases dating to the 1940s holding that compensation for aboriginal land could only be for lands actually occupied and courts and judges who conducted extensive testimony finding that actually occupied lands only existed “around Native villages as they were in 1907, according to the letter.

“Instead of taking land around their villages, Sealaska wants to take land around our villages. Where is the fairness or justice in that said Myla Poelstra, the postmistress of Edna Bay.

“We relied on law that was 77 years in the making . Now Sealaska wants Congress to rewrite the law. Our towns are having none of that, “Poelstra said.

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