Almost 30 years ago, the people of Angoon pledged support for protection of Admiralty Island in exchange for the right to build a cheaper, cleaner source of power.
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In the 1970s, the U.S. Forest Service proposed a large timber sale in which most of Admiralty Island would be logged, said Peter Metcalfe, who has been involved with Angoon's Native corporation, Kootznoowoo, for many years.
"People were proposing that Angoon become a mill town," he said.
Residents in the island village did not want to see their backyard logged, which caused confusion to some who favored economic development.
"The elders did not want commercial logging in the vicinity of Angoon. They were concerned with maintaining their subsistence lifestyle," Metcalfe said.
At the same time, an effort was underway to turn the bear-rich island into a national monument.
Kootznoowoo got on board, and in exchange for supporting the island as a national monument, it was allowed by Congress to select its entitlement lands on Prince of Wales Island instead of Admiralty Island. The entitlements were granted as part of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.
When President Jimmy Carter signed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in 1980, the monument was established. It also established Kootznoowoo's right to develop the hydro resource near the village.
"They were willing to champion the establishment of a wilderness area, but they did not want to (cheat) themselves out of clean, reasonably-priced energy," Metcalfe said.
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