For 50 years, Sealaska and others have worked tirelessly to correct a major flaw in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). ANCSA created regional and village corporations for communities with historical populations of Alaska Natives, but in Southeast, five communities — Ketchikan, Wrangell, Tenakee, Petersburg and Haines — were inexplicably left out of ANCSA.
Without village corporations representing their communities, Alaska Natives from the five communities have no land ownership of their traditional homelands and have not received village-corporation benefits like dividends, scholarships and support for local priorities.
Previous legislation and lobbying efforts have fallen short due to lack of support in Congress and because of conflict over the specific land selections that would be given to new ANCSA village corporations when they are established.
Today, there is hope.
Senate bill 3269, known as the Unrecognized Southeast Alaska Native Communities Recognition and Compensation Act, sponsored by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, has gotten further in the legislative process than any other attempt in the last 50 years.
Conversations have turned from private land ownership to focusing on righting an injustice for our Native people. Even conservation groups have turned a corner in their acknowledgment of the land’s original inhabitants. Terms like “Indigenous conservation” have surfaced, paving the way for support from legislators with a wide range of political philosophies.
Although positive momentum is growing, the journey is not over. The Southeast Alaska Landless Coalition needs your help to keep S. 3269 moving forward.
Take action with us! The Sealaska Shareholder newsletter that you will receive in September includes a postage-paid postcard to demonstrate your support to Congress. Please remove it, add a few words of support and send it in!
If you’re signed up for our Go Green initiative and do not receive paper mail from Sealaska, you can show your support by signing the petition online at withoutland.org.