June 28, 2005
The bill, S.1306, the Unrecognized Southeast Alaska Native Communities Recognition and Compensation Act, would enable the Alaska natives of Haines, Ketchikan, Petersburg, Tenakee and Wrangell to organize five "urban corporations,'' and accept the surface estate to approximately 23,000 acres of land. Sealaska Corporation, the regional Alaska Native Corporation for Southeast Alaska would receive title to the subsurface estate to the designated lands.
The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act awarded approximately $1 billion and 44 million acres of land to Alaska Natives and provided for the establishment of Native Corporations to receive and manage such funds and lands. The beneficiaries of the settlement were issued stock in one of 13 regional Alaska Native Corporations. Most beneficiaries also had the option to enroll and receive stock in a village, group or urban corporation.
"For reasons that still defy explanation the Native peoples of the 'landless communities,' were not permitted by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act to form village or urban corporations," Sen. Murkowski said in support of her legislation.
"These communities were excluded from this benefit even though they did not differ significantly from other communities in Southeast Alaska that were permitted to form village or urban corporations under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. The Native people of Southeast Alaska have recognized the injustice of this oversight for more than 33 years. Hearings have been held and reports written. Yet legislation to right the wrong has inevitably stalled out. This December marks the 34th anniversary of Congress' promise to the Native peoples of Alaska--the promise of a rapid and certain settlement. And still the landless communities of Southeast Alaska are landless."
Congressman Don Young has introduced
companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R.
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