Legislation would allow more land for SE Alaska Native communities

Legislation introduced in Congress would allow five Alaska Native communities in Southeast Alaska to form urban corporations and receive land entitlements under the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.

The Unrecognized Southeast Alaska Native Communities Recognition and Compensation Act would amend ANCSA to provide Haines, Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg and Tenakee with the right to form an Alaska Native urban corporation and receive 23,040 acres, or one township, of federal land, the same as what ANCSA granted to other Southeast Native communities when ANCSA became law 50 years ago.

Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both R-Alaska, filed the measure in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, Nov. 10. Rep. Don Young, also R-Alaska, was to introduce the legislation in the U.S. House on Thursday, Nov. 12.

Alaska’s congressional delegation said there is no consensus on why these five communities were left out of ANCSA but that a 1994 study by the University of Alaska’s Institute of Social and Economic Research found that the examined history of these communities showed strong similarities to other Southeast Alaska communities that were granted the right to organize corporations under ANCSA.