Agreement: Equal citizens as a whole

Posted: Sunday, August 26, 2001

At the governor's Subsistence Summit, Julie Kitka repeatedly stated that a promise is a promise. Although she and others continuously implied that those promises included special government-to-government relationships and preference hunting and fishing rights for Alaska Natives, they ignore the explicit related provisions in the Alaska Natives Claims Settlement Act (1971).

The following are actual quotes provided by the Act:

Sec 3 (b) the settlement should be accomplished rapidly, without establishing any permanent racially defined institutions, rights, privileges, or obligations, without creating a reservation system or lengthy wardship or trusteeship and without adding to the categories of property and institutions enjoying special tax privileges or to the legislation establishing special relationships between the United States Government and the State of Alaska.

Sec 4 (b) All aboriginal titles, if any, and all claims of aboriginal tittles in Alaska based on use and occupancy, including submerged lands underneath all water areas, both inland and offshore, and including any aboriginal hunting or fishing rights that may exist, are hereby extinguished.

For those rights the Alaska Natives were given title to over 44 million acres of lands. The state of Alaska gave up its right of first selection of those lands which the state was entitled to by the Statehood Act. The 44 million acres is larger than that of any one of the majority of the lesser states.

The Alaska Natives also received $967 million, of which the state paid $500 million. Alaska paid their share, ahead of time allotted, thereby lost the potential interest earnings estimated to amount to many thousands of dollars.

But most important, all Alaskans, both Natives and non-Natives, are to be recognized as equal citizens of our nation as a whole. The promise of individual equal privileges and immunities is the most important personal right to be protected by a constitutional democracy. It cannot be abrogated by a mere amendment of our Alaska Constitution.

Dale Bondurant


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