SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Sealaska Lands Bill's Meeting Cancelations Leave Community Members

By Gretchen Goldstein


March 12, 2010

The visit to Port Protection by Senator Murkowski's Resource Committee staffers was called at the last minute by weather. "Maybe now they understand why sometimes subsistence is all we have," quipped one of the Point Baker residents who skiffed over despite the weather.

Port Protection has requested Congressional field hearings, including ANILCA 810 subsistence hearings, on S-881/HR-2099, the Sealaska Corporation land exchange bills. Village residents do not consider this Senate sponsored "town hall meetings" a substitute for the requested hearings.

"One of the Senate Committee staffers is an ex-Sealaska lobbyist. The other one is outspoken in support of the bill, too." Said Port Protection resident Litze Botello. "They both have openly shown their bias. How can we trust them to transmit out testimony to Congress fairly?"

The communities goal is to have the land exchange bills die in committee, with Sealaska selecting its final lands from within the existing box. They are fighting to protect their continued use of subsistence resource harvest areas as well as of the world class karst underlying the land Sealaska corporation wants.

Twenty people who could not be notified of the cancellation showed up to speak against the land-exchange bills. They all expressed anger and frustration that openly biased Senate staffers were sent to the "town meetings" in addition to the other Sealaska Corporation lobbyists in attendance at the meetings " We have heard enough Sealaska corporation propaganda, without being sent two more from DC," commented 88 year old WW II vet Earnest Watson. The politics of these land-exchange bills have been ethically questionable from the beginning. It's very depressing.

It is unknown at this time if the meetings for Port Protection, Point Baker and Edna Bay, three communities opposed to the land exchange, will be rescheduled.

Gretchen Goldstein

Ketchikan, AK


Received March , 2009 - Published March 12, 2010


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