I am compelled to respond to Russell Heath's My Turn article of Dec. 16.
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The lands we selected at Echo Cove, west Douglas and Hobart Bay are our Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act entitlements, lands close to the hearts of our shareholders, several thousand of whom are citizens of Juneau.
Heath, like everyone else in this discussion concerning Goldbelt's Cascade Point facility at Echo Cove, seems intent on excluding Alaska Natives from decisions regarding their rights and property.
He claims to have called congressional staffers and a Carter administration official, involved in the negotiations of the late 1970s when Goldbelt agreed to move its selections off Admiralty Island. Heath claims no one remembers promising that our new selections would not be opposed. Why didn't he contact the Native leaders involved in those negotiations?
Both Bob Loescher and I serve on the Goldbelt board of directors. Both of us were deeply involved in the negotiations that led to the "off-Admiralty" settlement. Both of us remember the promises made. Before he wrote his My Turn column, Heath failed to inquire of our recollections.
The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council has reneged on its promises and failed to include us, or any other Alaska Native, in the secret negotiations concerning our settlement lands.
Environmentalists such as Heath can try to rewrite history however they like, but for Alaska Natives, Cascade Point is part of the land and rights solemnly pledged by the U.S. government in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.
Joseph E. Kahklen
Chairman, Goldbelt Inc.