Veterans land allotment equity act reintroduced

Legislation reintroduced in Congress would amend the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act to allow Natives who served during the Vietnam war era to apply for Native allotments.

The Alaska Native Veterans Land Allotment Equity Act, H.R. 1867, introduced by Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, was referred to the House Natural Resources Committee, while S. 785, introduced by Sen. Dan Sullivan, and cosponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, both R-Alaska, was referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which Murkowski chairs.

Many Alaska Natives who served during the Vietnam war era were unable to apply for land allotments provided for under the Native Allotment Act of 1906 before the process was ended by passage of ANCSA. In 1998, Congress opened an application period for some of those veterans, but only for those who served from 1969 to 1971 were allowed to apply.

The Alaska Native Veterans Land Allotment Equity Act would expand military service dates to coincide with the entire Vietnam war, which officially lasted from 1964 to 1975, Alaska’s congressional delegation said.

The legislation would increase available land for selection by Alaska Native veterans and reduce previous restrictions and occupancy requirements that prevented many veterans from receiving their allotment during the prior open season. The legislation further includes minor policy improvements made during the 114th Congress, including a provision requiring the Interior Department to coordinate with Alaska Native organizations to help streamline the implementation of this legislation and coordinate outreach to veterans.

“This legislation would finally bring this issue to a close and give Alaska Native Vietnam veterans the opportunity to obtain lands promised to them under federal law,” Young said. “It’s a downright travesty that decades later, these honorable men and women are still waiting to receive what was promised to them.”

Earlier versions of H.R. 1867, the Alaska Native Veterans Land Allotment Equity Act, were introduced in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2016.