I’ve been hearing a lot about Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s draft Sealaska Lands Bill, and the language in the draft bill itself doesn’t jibe with Murkowski’s spin on the legislation. It seems to be nothing but another big giveaway of public lands and assets.
According to scientists, Alaska was first settled by immigrants from Asia, some 15,000 years ago, once they came across the Bering land bridge (Beringia) that once existed between Asia and Alaska. So, in the final analysis, we are all immigrants in this country... even those of us who have been here a long, long time. The “Natives” of Alaska are in actuality indigenous to Asia, but they, and we all, are indeed Americans; supposedly equal in the eyes of the law.
How can Murkowski think it’s fair, right, reasonable or appropriate to give a private, for-profit corporation sole rights to 3,600 acres of the most prime public areas in the Tongass, for their “use and enjoyment?” Not only that, but Sealaska Corporation will be given 15 years after passage of the proposed bill to select these so-called “cultural sites” using as yet undefined criteria for selection.
The proposed bill provides no limit on the minimum size of the individual sites. Sealaska could select both sides of a sockeye stream (at a minimal expenditure of their acreage allotment), and post it as “No Trespassing” under this bill; you would then risk fines or imprisonment simply for trying to dip-net a sockeye for supper. But, the real kicker is that Sealaska allowed to, after the lands are surveyed and conveyed (all at taxpayer expense), turn right around and log, mine, or lease the sites to another corporation, or simply sell them to the highest bidder. Nothing in the proposed legislation prevents any of this from happening.
I would ask everyone to read the draft bill closely, and decide for yourself if it’s fair to the whole of the American people, “Native” and otherwise.
If, after a fair reading, you disagree with Murkowski on this bill, please let her know it, and let the Senate Resources Committee know it, as well. It can all be done on the computer.