Ending an Injustice: Delegation Reintroduces Landless Legislation to Right a Half-Century Wrong
Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan (both R-Alaska), and Representative Mary Peltola (D-Alaska), today issued statements on legislation that would 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).
The delegation’s bill, entitled the Unrecognized Southeast Alaska Native Communities Recognition and Compensation Act, would amend ANCSA to provide these five communities with the right to form an Alaska Native Urban Corporation and receive 23,040 acres, or one township, of federal land—just as ANCSA granted to other Southeast Native communities over 50 years ago.
Murkowski and Sullivan filed the measure in the Senate earlier today, and Peltola will introduce it next week when the House is back in session.
“Our Landless legislation will provide for rightful Native ownership of lands that these five communities are entitled to under ANCSA. Alaska Native leaders in these communities are asking for no more than the opportunity granted to other Native communities 50 years ago. I urge colleagues on both sides of the aisle to look at the facts and help us get this done, so we can finally put an end to more than half a century of injustice in Southeast Alaska,” said Senator Murkowski.
“For years, Alaska Native residents in five southeast communities have been denied the land and opportunities afforded by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act,” said Senator Sullivan. “This is an injustice that Congress has a duty to rectify. I am hopeful my colleagues join the Alaska delegation in quickly advancing our legislation for our constituents.”
“The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act was intended to recognize and address traditional land claims, enabling selection of lands to be used for the benefit of Alaska Natives. But for these Southeast Alaska Native communities, in Haines, Ketchikan, Petersburg, Tenakee, and Wrangell, this never happened. It is past time that we correct this unjust error. The Unrecognized Southeast Alaska Native Communities Recognition and Compensation Act would make each landless community eligible for 23,040 acres of federal land, providing new opportunities for economic growth and self-determination. This is an overdue but important step in the right direction. I am proud to partner with my Delegation colleagues to introduce and advance this crucial legislation,” said Representative Peltola.
ANCSA divided 44 million acres of land among more than 200 regional, village, and urban corporations to resolve land claims throughout Alaska—but did not include the five Southeast communities of Haines, Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, and Tenakee.
Click here to view maps of proposed land selections through the Landless legislation.