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ANCSA History -Mo & Stewart Udall

September 23rd, 2009 Posted By: Morgan Howard No Comments


Mo_UdallAs readers of this blog may know, the Udall brothers were instrumental in the passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA).  Terrence Bracy was a legislative assistant to Congressman Udall from 1966-1976.  Mr. Bracy tells about the experience in a speech given to Udall Scholars, August 8, 2009. CONTINUE »

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Murkowski introduces bill; Bering Straits Native Corporation and Alaska land claims

March 5th, 2009 Posted By: Morgan Howard No Comments


Lisa MurkowskiAlaska Senator Lisa Murkowski introduced a bill to resolve the claims of the Bering Straits Native Corporation and the State of Alaska to land adjacent to Salmon Lake and to provide for the conveyance to the Bering Straits Native Corporation of certain other public land in partial satisfaction of the land entitlement of the Corporation under the ANCSA.

Senator Murkowski spoke on the floor on S. 522:

Mr. President, I rise to speak to a bill that I am introducing today to resolve a land conveyance dispute in Northwest Alaska, the Salmon Lake Land Selection Resolution Act.

Shortly after Alaska became a State in 1959, Alaska selected lands near Salmon Lake, a major fishery resource in the Bering Straits Region of Northwest Alaska. In 1971, Congress passed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act to resolve aboriginal land claims throughout the 49th State. In that act Congress created 12 regional Native corporations in state, providing the corporations with $966 million and the right to select 44 million acres of land in return for giving up claims to their traditional lands in Alaska. The land and money was to go to make the corporations profitable to provide benefits to their shareholders, the native inhabitants of Alaska. The Bering Straits Native Corporation, one of those 12 regional corporations, promptly selected lands in the Salmon Lake region

For the past 38 years there have been conflicts over the conveyances, delaying land from going to the corporation, harming the economic and cultural benefits of the corporation to Native shareholders, and complicating land and wildlife management issues between federal agencies and the State of Alaska. Starting in 1994, but accelerating in 1997, talks began among the State, Federal agencies and native corporations and towns in the region, located north of Nome–Salmon Lake itself is located 38 miles north of Nome–to reach a consensus on land uses in the region. Those talks reached agreement on June 1, 2007 with a resolution that satisfied all parties. This seemingly non-controversial legislation will implement the new land management regime

By this bill the Corporation will gain conveyance to 1,009 acres in the Salmon Lake area, 6,132 acres at Windy Cove, northwest of Salmon Lake, and 7,504 acres at Imuruk Basin, on the north shore of Imuruk Basin, a water body north of Windy Cove. In return the Corporation relinquishes rights to another 3,084 acres at Salmon Lake to the federal government, the government then giving part of the land to the State of Alaska for it to maintain a key airstrip in the area. The Federal Bureau of Land Management also retains ownership and administration of a 9-acre campground at the outlet of Salmon Lake, which provides road accessible public camping opportunities from the Nome-Teller Highway. The agreement also retains public access to BLM managed lands in the Kigluaik Mountain Range.

The bill fully protects recreation and subsistence uses in the area, while providing the Corporation with access to recreational-tourism sites of importance to its shareholders and which might some day produce revenues for the Corporation. The agreement has prompted no known environmental group concerns and seems to be the classic “win-win-win” solution that all sides should be congratulated for crafting. The key, however, is for Congress to ratify the land conveyance changes by 2011, when the agreement ratification window closes.

Passage of this act is certainly in keeping with the spirit of the Alaska Lands Conveyance Acceleration Act that this body passed 5 years ago that was intended to help settle all outstanding land conveyance issues by 2009–the 50th anniversary of Alaska statehood. In Alaska where controversy abounds over land use, this is a hard-fought compromise agreement that seemingly satisfies all parties and makes good sense for all concerned. I hope this body can ratify this bill swiftly and move it to the House of Representatives for its concurrence and eventual signing by the President. The bill is important for residents of Nome who utilize the area and for all Alaska Natives who live in the Bering Straits Region.

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Jason Metrokin named President & CEO of Bristol Bay Native Corporation

January 16th, 2009 Posted By: Morgan Howard No Comments


Jason MetrokinJason Metrokin will serve Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC) as President and Chief Executive Officer effective today, January 16, 2009.

Mr. Metrokin replaces President/CEO Hjalmar Olson, who announced his retirement from BBNC on November 5, 2008 after sixteen years of service. Metrokin was the Director of Shareholder and Corporate Relations of BBNC as well as a director of the Board.

The appointment of Mr. Metrokin, age 36, marks the first time an Alaska Native Regional Corporation has employed a CEO that is was born after the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act enrollment date.  Metrokin is a descendant of an original shareholder and inherited his stock.  He joined BBNC in 2005 from the First Alaskans Institute where he served as Vice President of Development and an earlier career with National Bank of Alaska which later became Wells Fargo. His leadership experience is marked by his role as a founding member of the Alaska Native Professional Association, graduation from BBNC’s Training Without Walls, a management training program and service on several corporate and nonprofit governing boards.

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Hoonah Totem Corp. succeeds in Tourism destination

October 17th, 2008 Posted By: Morgan Howard No Comments


Hoonah Builds Tourism hotspot, avoids tourist trap

By Charles L. Westmoreland
Capital City Weekly/Morris News Service-Alaska
Publication Date: 10/19/08
HOONAH – Huna Totem Corp. opened Icy Strait Point to cruise ships in 2004 with some apprehension. At the time Hoonah’s reputation was that of a quiet, pristine fishing and logging community; untouched by the flamboyant commercialism of other Southeast Alaska ports.

Like many remote Alaska villages, with local jobs dwindling away, a new viable source of income was needed. But marketing Hoonah as a tourism hotspot without turning it into a tourism trap was a challenge.

Tourists who disembark at Icy Strait Point, an early 20th century cannery located a few miles outside Hoonah, at first were kept away from the heart of the town so as to not disturb the everyday life of residents. But Hoonah’s 850 citizens didn’t just embrace their new role of host to as many as 2,500 travelers daily – they craved more direct involvement.

“At first everybody was deeply concerned about tourism coming to town because of what (Hoonah) could turn into,” said Bob Wysocki, CEO of Huna Totem, a Native corporation formed by the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. “People quickly realized the impact wasn’t like everywhere else. Folks went from being concerned too many people would be in town to (Huna Totem) getting a lot of heat for not enough people coming into town. The community really opened up and embraced it.”

Wysocki said Huna Totem has allowed only one cruise ship to port each day, though he is looking at the possibility of allowing two ships at a time next season. Hoonah saw a drop off from 80 ships in 2007 to 59 last year due to scheduling conflictions among cruise lines.

“We’re not just about the mighty buck and bringing in three or four ships a day,” Wysocki said. “That just wouldn’t work. We’d burn out our employees and risk guest satisfaction.”

Hoonah has been an easy destination for Wysocki to market. Chichagof Island has one of Alaska’s highest concentrations of brown bears, and nearby Point Adolphus is known as one of the richest humpback whale feeding grounds in Southeast Alaska. Tourism activities are enhanced by the village’s remoteness and other factors, such as Hoonah’s predominantly Alaska Native population, and how subsistence hunting and fishing remain a staple of everyday life.

Huna Totem uses that cultural authenticity to its advantage, involving elders and youth in the showcasing, storytelling and presentation of their history, artwork, values and lifestyles to travelers. Many of Huna Totem’s 130 workers wear their Tlingit name on their badges next to their English name.

Faggen Skaflestad, a lifelong Hoonah resident and owner of Janaggan Touring and Guiding, said little has changed in the town in the past five seasons.

“It’s nice having (Icy Strait Point) out the road because tourism hasn’t changed the town,” he said. “As far as the economy, (tourism) definitely hasn’t hurt us. I believe next year will be the telltale of what will transpire.”

Tourism may very well have saved Hoonah after the village saw its fishing and logging industries dwindle during the 1980s and 1990s. Icy Strait Point employs about a quarter of the Hoonah’s population, most of whom also are shareholders in Huna Totem.

“We’ve maintained about 90 percent local hire and 85 percent Native hire over our five-year history,” Wysocki said. “With most Alaska villages declining in population and economic activity, Hoonah and Icy Strait Point stand out as proof that a culture can be maintained and that an economic base can be built providing jobs that keep the village and culture alive.”

Huna Totem Corp. purchased Icy Strait Point in 1996, and it is now home to more than a dozen locally owned and operated shops, including four restaurants, a museum, theatre and gift shops. Huna Totem invested millions in the project, to include building the world’s largest zipline, but Wysocki was hesitant to disclose how much money has been invested so far.

Huna Totem’s practice of hiring locally and creating business opportunities for the community earned it the Travel Industry Association and National Geographic Traveler magazine’s “Travel to a Better World” award this month for sustaining an indigenous culture and community. Hoonah’s seasonal unemployment has dropped below 1 percent since Icy Strait Point reopened.

“Darn near anybody who wants a job has got one,” Wysocki said. “If you can show up, be clean and straight and come to work every day, we hire just about anybody who walks through the door.”

Hoonah Mayor Dennis Gray said tourism has done more than just create job opportunities; it also has led to much-needed infrastructure improvements in the town. A new ferry terminal will be built next year and a 220-ton boatlift is expected to be operational by next summer.

“We’ve seen a few local business owners open gift shops and other stores,” Gray said. “People have disposable income to go shopping and are keeping dollars in town and putting them into the economy. (Tourism) saved the city in sales tax and revenue.”

Hoonah Harbormaster Paul Dybdahl anticipates more businesses moving in once the projects are completed. He’s already seen an increase in independent charter vessels trying to cash in on Hoonah’s tourism.

“I see the infrastructure changing even more,” he said. “Mechanics, fiberglass workers and shipwrights will need shops to support (the lift). We’ve already had people who perform these services call about setting up shop.”

Dybdahl’s brother, Johan Dybdahl, oversees special projects for Icy Strait Point and said the cannery is finished expanding for now. The infrastructure can accommodate up to 5,000 visitors at a time, and with cruise ships expected to dock five days a week next season, its limits will be tested. That’s especially if tourists keep making return visits.

“This year we had a lot of people come back because they visited once before, and they keep telling us not to change a thing,” he said. “They really appreciate getting on the ground and skipping rocks on the beach, going into the forest to see wildlife. Some even claim we control our whales because we haven’t missed on a whale watching tour in five seasons now.”

http://www.alaskajournal.com/stories/101908/hom_20081019011.shtml

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In response to Evon Peter, Native Corporations aren’t all bad news

October 8th, 2008 Posted By: Morgan Howard 1 Comment


In response to the essays entitled, “Alaska 101 for presidential candidates” and “An Alaska Native speaks out on Palin, Oil, and Alaska” by Evon Peter. 

I would agree that much of the original Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) had “assimilation devices” built in.  However, the 1991 amendments and more than one hundred amendments since have addressed many of these concerns.  Currently, there are bills in the House and Senate that continue to amend ANCSA.

Through 7(i) sharing, the native corporation I belong to receives funds that keeps our corporation’s doors open and allows us to employ shareholders.  Of course, the bulk of this money comes from oil and mining through successful ventures of NANA, Arctic Slope and others.

In the recent “Alaska Business Monthly” list of top 49 Alaskan-owned companies, two-thirds are Alaska Native.  Eight out of the top ten Alaska businesses are Native Corporations.  Economic strength provides Alaska Native Corporations the ability to make significant positive changes for their tribal shareholders and their respective communities.  They are major stakeholders in Alaska and relevant players in today’s world.  This is not all bad news.

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Congressman Don Young interviewed in Ketchikan

February 20th, 2008 Posted By: Morgan Howard No Comments


Congressman Don YoungI have highlighted some text of an article written by Mary Kauffman and found on sitnews.us. While Alaska’s US congressman Don Young was in Ketchikan, Alaska over President’s Day weekend, he sat down to speak to the local media.

Congressman Young spoke about the importance and urgency for the federal government to finally settle Sealaska’s final land conveyances.

Young said, “One of the things that I believe is that both the Native Land Claims Act and the Statehood Act have not been fully implemented as far as ownership of land.” He said after almost 50 years of statehood, Alaska is still short 50 million acres of land that the state does not have title to.

 

There is a huge amount of land that Sealaska, the landless groups and the Native Land Claims Settlement haven’t gained title to also and that’s been going on since 1971, said Young.

 

H.R. 3560, The Southeast Alaska Native Land Entitlement Finalization Act, is bipartisan legislation introduced by Young in November 2007 that will allow the Sealaska Native Corporation to receive its remaining land conveyance under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) of 1971 – after more than 35 years since the Act was signed into law.

 

If passed, “This legislation will redress the inequitable treatment of the Native Regional Corporation for Southeast Alaska – Sealaska Corporation – by allowing it to select its remaining land entitlement under Section 14 of ANCSA from designated federal land in Southeast Alaska,” Young said in November.

 

When announcing the bill, Young said, “It’s unfortunate that after more than 35 years since the passage of ANSCA, Sealaska has still not received conveyance of its full land entitlement. As a result of its small land entitlement, it is critical that Sealaska complete its remaining land entitlement under ANCSA in order to continue to meet the economic, social and cultural needs of its Native shareholders, and of the Native community throughout Alaska.”

 

“Primarily there is a dispute between the agencies,” said Young, “and I don’t think agencies should go contrary to what the Congress passed in the law.” On Monday he said, “We ought to take and get these things done as fast as possible.”

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