Over the summer of 2019, Sealaska pledged $500,000 in support of the Alaska Native landless communities of Southeast and their continued push for their own village corporations in their communities. Those communities include the five southeast communities of Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Haines and Tenakee Springs. Together they are home to 4,400 Sealaska shareholders.
Southeast Alaska Landless Corporation recently launched a new campaign to appeal to a national audience. The Alaska Natives Without Land campaign has crafted a new bill and seeking support from the Alaska delegation. This attempt is different from previous efforts in that it specifies 115,200 acres to be divided evenly between the five landless communities. Maps have been released as the campaign takes it message from community to community.
This summer and fall volunteers and campaign coordinators held meetings in the five landless communities and in Seattle and Anchorage to update shareholders, educate the public and rally support. Alaska Natives Without Land have had substantial turnout and inspired great conversation. In addition to community visits, they have spent time in Washington D.C. talking with legislators, working in tandem with them to address any issues.
“It is empowering to see people come together and support the campaign,” said Sealaska Director Richard Rinehart. “With your help our voices will be heard on our grandfathers’ land, and the day will come that we are no longer landless. Gunalchéesh! Gunalchéesh for all your help and support. Gunalchéesh!” Richard is also a landless shareholder from Wrangell who has been working on landless issues for many years.
Throughout this winter there will be more community gatherings in Juneau, and the five communities. During these meetings prospective volunteers will learn how they can join the cause and make sure Congress hears our voice once this bill is introduced.
Alaska Natives Without Land is encouraging landless shareholders to email photos and stories to firstname.lastname@example.org. These stories and images will be used to show Congress who this land belongs to. Since 1971, 48 percent of original shareholders have walked into the forest and are no longer with us. We need to make sure each member of Congress knows the faces of the people who were wronged.
More information is available at WithOutLand.org.