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An Alaska Native perspective on Alaska Day

Posted: October 22, 2013 - 12:00am

On Oct. 18, 1867, a Sitka ceremony featured the raising of the US flag over the fort; but this flag wasn’t raised over Kuiu Kwaan and Tennakee Kwaan soil.

Doctor of Law (Land & Title Specialist) James P. Bailey’s “Smoking Gun” research found:

• US claims title to Alaska through a quitclaim from the Tsar of Russia by the Treaty of Cession of 1867. In 1821 the Tsar attempted to restrict other nations from the waters that washed the shores of the northwest coast of North America; i.e. to all territory lying north of the 51st degree of latitude by virtue of discovery.

• Under the Law of Nations, Russia did not have title by discovery to any lands not occupied by Russia. The documents are clear – Russia could not successfully claim title to the northwest coast of North America and the adjacent islands.

• Russia lacked title in much of the lands owned and occupied by the Indigenous peoples of Alaska. Bailey made an in-depth research at the Smithsonian Institute, the National Archives and Congressional Records where records are stored for all the states in the union. There is nothing to show the US bought Alaska; and there is nothing on record to show Russia owned Alaska, no “Bill of Sale,” Flawed title does not improve with the passage of time.

Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, on behalf of US President Monroe, declared in diplomatic communications that this territory (Alaska) was not part of the Russian Empire and asserted that the “Natives were independent tribes inhabiting an independent territory.” These diplomatic communications gave full citations under the law of Nations as to why Tsarist Russia did not acquire the region of Alaska. US asserted that the Native Nations essentially possess the “Title” and dominion with full sovereignty and independence as any European nation under the law of Nations. This placed the sovereignty of the Alaska Nations on equal footing as any European Nation.

In conclusion, the 1867 Treaty of Cession between Tsarist Russia and the US is an unlawful treaty since the US already denied that the Northwest Territories (Alaska at the time) was part of the Russian Empire. The US Supreme Court supported this position when it determined in 1975 US vs. State of Alaska (422 US 184) that the 1867 Treaty of Cession was a quitclaim. Quitclaim cannot transfer title. Natives still have Dominion.

George Suckinaw James, Jr., Second Chair of Kuiu

Ketchikan

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