SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


How Can We Survive as a Community Without Access to Public Lands?
By Myla Poelstra


October 05, 2009

Letter to the Editor -

News of the upcoming Senate hearing on S. 881, the Southeast Alaska Native Land Entitlement Finalization Act, or "the Sealaska bill," has sent a wave of disbelief and disappointment throughout our community. For years we have been reaching out to our Senators and Congressman, imploring them to take a closer look at the devastating impact this legislation will have on Edna Bay and other Prince of Wales communities. We have sent more than 1200 letters to our government over the past two years trying to get someone to listen.

Many Edna Bay residents have invested a lifetime's work into what they have here, never imagining they could be cut off from the public land and resources they depend on to provide for their families. It's hard not to feel a sense of betrayal, like victims of false advertising. The State offers land for sale in remote wilderness areas enticing people with the opportunity to experience the "true Alaskan lifestyle" of living off the land. ANILCA provides them access to the public resources they need to support that lifestyle. People believe in that dream. Some invest everything they have for the opportunity to live that dream.

And now our congressional representatives want to help Sealaska Corporation pull the rug out from under these dreams and all of this investment by transferring nearly 32,000 acres of public land around our community to a private corporation.

The residents of Edna Bay deserve better. We have built our lives here in good faith. Multiple generations of families live here. We have businesses dependent on continued access to the public lands surrounding our community.

Remote communities must have guaranteed access to public lands in order to survive. Sealaska can select its land from many other islands away from isolated, resource-dependent, subsistence-based communities. But we cannot relocate our community.

We understand and support the State and Federal government's commitment to the finalization of ANCSA, and it's goal of creating economic prosperity for Alaska Natives. We are all part of the larger community of Southeast Alaska. And as a community with diverse needs and interests, we must learn to respect and cooperate with each other. We want to work with all of our neighbors, but supporting the prosperity of one neighbor at the expense of the others is not the right answer.

There must be a better solution than S.881.


Myla Poelstra
Sunrise Lodge & General Store
Edna Bay, AK


Received October 05, 2009 - Published October 05, 2009


Viewpoints - Opinion Letters:

letter Webmail Your Opinion Letter to the Editor



Note: Comments published on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.


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

SitNews ©2009
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska