SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Sealaska's Spin Fools No One

By Don Hernandez


May 08, 2013

A recent Sitnews opinion piece by Sealaska vice president Rick Harris asserted their lands bill S.340 would not set a precedent reopening the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). His assertion however conflicts with Sealaska's own comments. Jaeleen Aruajo, Chief Counsel for Sealaska Corporation admitted as much before a US Senate committee in 2011 saying, "And I also would submit that if other regions have similar inequities or problems in their region then they should present those to Congress and have a similar public process that we are going through to have their issues, I guess, judged and identified and to determine if they have a right to have some congressional action as well."

Additionally, according to the Wrangell Sentinel, Ms, Aruajo told a group of Wrangell residents in 2010 that if this legislation passes it could serve as precedent in the future. "A lot of land issues in Alaska have lost some traction, and we're hoping with our bill to lay the foundation to get some things done on Alaska native land issues," Araujo said.

As proof the legislation would not be precedent setting, Sealaska and Senator Murkowski continually rely on the informal assurance of heads of other Alaska native corporations claiming they would not seek similar action if the legislation prevailed. These hearsay assurances are not binding now or in the future.

It would be highly irresponsible for Congress to reopen ANSCA, the largest land claims settlement in United States history. It's intent was to resolve and extinguish in perpetuity aboriginal land claims in Alaska not provide loopholes for continual major revisions. Moreover, it would be naïve to assume any other Native Corporation could not do the same were S.340 enacted.

Sealaska currently claims they had a unique situation compared to the other regional corporations because they were forced to choose lands from within designated areas. However, in 1975, then Sealaska President John Borbridge testified before a Senate Committee expressly supporting and specifically requesting completion of their land selections inside the designated withdrawal areas. Quite simply, in 1975 Sealaska was perfectly satisfied with the lands within the box.

Finally, BLM testimony recently submitted before a Senate committee hearing affirmed the bill's precedence setting nature: "We note that if S.340 is enacted other corporations might seek similar legislation for the substitution of new lands."

Who does Sealaska think they are fooling?

Don Hernandez
Point Baker, Alaska

About: "Don Hernandez is a commercial fisherman and resident of Point Baker, Alaska"

Received May 07, 2013 - Published May 08, 2013

Related Viewpoint:

letter GSACC Propagates Urban Legends and Offers Uninformed Opinion on S.340, the “Southeast Alaska Native Lands Finalization and Jobs By Rick Harris



Viewpoints - Opinion Letters:

letter Webmail Your Opinion Letter to the Editor



Representations of fact and opinions in letters are solely those of the author.
The opinions of the author do not represent the opinions of Sitnews.


E-mail your letters & opinions to
Your full name, city and state are required for letter publication.

SitNews ©2013
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska