Miller misguides on Sealaska bill

Posted: Sunday, October 31, 2010

It continues to surprise me that Joe Miller speaks to his judicial experience, data-centric and judicial evaluation skills and how they will apply to important issues for Alaska. If this is so, then why would he claim that the Sealaska land bill lacks transparency and would set a precedent with its new selection areas, when the facts say otherwise? Sealaska has held more than 225 community and special interest group meetings over the past 18 months resulting in legislation that Sen. Lisa Murkowski has changed considerably from the initial package in order to reach a fair compromise and address each of these issues.

So, how can Miller say there was no transparency in the face of such facts - multiple meetings and significant compromise?

Miller expresses concern that this legislation would set a precedent that would re-open the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. The statement that this legislation would set a precedent that would re-open ANCSA is simply not true and fails to recognize the fundamentally different way Sealaska was treated in ANCSA. Moreover, the landmark ANCSA settlement was hurried to allow the pipeline to be built with the recognition that over time it would have to be amended for fairness and success. In fact, it has been amended more than 100 times, and right here in Southeast Alaska both urban corporations and two village corporations have land outside of areas originally designated for selection.

Further cursory investigation of ANCSA reveals other regional corporations had much larger withdrawal areas from which to select their respective lands. The Secretary of the Interior was authorized to withdraw additional lands for regions, excluding Sealaska, if the lands within the original withdrawal areas were not sufficient, and other regional corporations entitlements were based, in part, on population. With 22 percent of the Alaska Native population Sealaska representing the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian Indians of Southeast will ultimately receive less than 1 percent of land allocated for ANCSA and of its traditional lands.

If this is the way Miller undertakes his research, I question whether we can trust him with representation of this state in Washington, D.C.

Charles Edwardson


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