Murkowski Urges Interior Department to Swiftly Fulfill Promise to Alaska Native Vietnam Veterans

Public Lands Open for Selection for Alaska Native Vietnam-era Veterans

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) issued the following statement after the Interior Department announced next steps in the implementation of the Alaska Native Vietnam-era Veterans Land Allotment Program—which includes government-to-government consultations with federally recognized Alaska Tribes and Alaska Native Corporations over what Interior cited as “defects” in the decision-making process to open the lands.         

“I disagree with the characterization that there were “defects” or a lack of consultation in the planning process to revoke the (d)(1) withdrawals. I am, however, glad at the about face the Interior Department has taken in now recognizing the importance of this issue. Unfortunately Alaska Native Vietnam veterans have heard these promises far too long from the Federal government, and I have asked Secretary Haaland and Interior officials what deficiencies are in need of correction and for additional details on how they plan to prioritize Native veterans’ selections with the withdrawals still in place. I appreciate the renewed focus for the Department on this issue, but talk is easy, and I look forward to seeing some actual progress on this issue; Alaska Native Vietnam veterans have already waited decades.

In April, Senator Murkowski, alongside the rest of the Alaska Congressional Delegation, called on the Department of the Interior to fulfill its promises to Alaska and Alaska Natives after the Department’s announcement that it was imposing a two-year stay in the implementation of several new Public Land Orders (PLOs) in Alaska, despite the PLOs already being signed.

The Dingell Act, Senator Murkowski’s comprehensive lands package which was signed into law in March 2019, established the Alaska Native Vietnam-era Veterans Land Allotment Program. The bill contained the provision sponsored by U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan and cosponsored by Senator Murkowski to ensure the federal government fulfilled its decades-old promise to provide allotments to Alaska Natives who served in the Vietnam War.

Related Issues: Energy