Sealaska maligns Hoonah Indian Association

Posted: Wednesday, January 26, 2000

Sealaska, an Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act corporation whose origins began by the blood that flows in our veins (those born prior to 1971) and our ancestors' veins, chose to impugn the Hoonah Indian Association, a tribe consisting primarily of shareholders, and its relationship with the National Park Service. Sealaska initiates this action by the use of its shareholders' money and resources to attack its very own people by demeaning its posture and efforts in the document, ``A National Treasure or a Stolen Heritage.''

Sealaska maligns the Hoonah Indian Association and the Park Service by trivializing the tribe and the ongoing programs with the park, which are designed to return the ancestral presence and its cultural and traditional uses. Sealaska did this without the courtesy of professional or cultural consultation.

I believe Sealaska's ``brain trust'' exercised poor judgment. Sealaska advocates for Title VIII of ANILCA subsistence in the park by using our ancient ancestral presence and uses in the park and its premise. This is a valid and honorable premise, but for the wrong conclusion. Title VIII subsistence is not ``Indian legislation,'' but rural legislation. To us, it is a compromise. We will not compromise.

If Sealaska is successful in its advocacy of the Title VIII subsistence, it denies inherent ancestral uses in the homeland to its rightful urban relatives. Not only will it greatly increase the usage in the park, it will be OK for all rural residents who choose to gaff or set-net fish in the much coveted, and rightfully so, chookenheeni. I believe you are capable of drawing your own scenarios. A point that deeply concerns me is that the ratio of tribal and nontribal members in our rural setting is changing unfavorably for tribal concerns. What will it be in Y3K?

We do not wish to diminish our and future generation's exclusive indisputable inherent ancestral rights by steamrolling a Title VIII ANILCA fix without pursuing and exhausting all other avenues. We, the Hoonah Indian Association, a federally recognized tribe, which enjoys and implements its unique government-to-government status with the federal government, provide an avenue. We offer continued opportunity for which we both strive. We invite Sealaska's support.

Kenneth GrantPresidentHoonah Indian Association

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