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Sealaska Land Legislation Receives House Mark Up

The Southeast Alaska Native Land Entitlement Finalization and Jobs Protection Act, or H.R. 740, introduced by Congressman Don Young (R-AK), was the subject of a legislative mark up on June 12 before the House Committee on Natural Resources. The committee approved and reported out H.R. 740, for consideration by the full Congress, with technical amendments submitted by Young to address items from the State of Alaska and the sporting community. This vote shows bipartisan support in favor of approval, 29-14.

“Congressman Young has been an unwavering champion of this bill, and we thank all members of this committee who supported moving the bill forward to the full House,” said Sealaska Board Chair Albert Kookesh.

H.R. 740 would convey to Sealaska approximately 70,000 acres in the Southeast Alaska region as part of a federal promise to Alaska Natives through the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) made law more than 40 years ago. The forests and waterways of Southeast Alaska, some 23 million acres, is the indigenous homeland of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people, who for thousands of years have lived and thrived there. The final transfer of land as promised in ANCSA would return less than one-half of 1 percent of those homelands back to the Native people of the region.

“The Tongass National Forest has always been a Native place,” said Sealaska President and CEO Chris E. McNeil Jr. “Sealaska is pleased with the progress being made in Congress on the conveyance of acres that will directly contribute to the economic viability of our villages, the perpetuation of our culture, and provide continuing opportunities for our people. We look forward to seeing this promise fulfilled.”

Jacqueline Pata is a Sealaska board member and executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, the oldest and largest national organization of American Indians and Alaska Native tribal governments. “As Native people we have made numerous concessions throughout the process and, while we gave up many areas sacred to us and others with potential for economic sustainability, we appreciate the efforts by the House and Senate to craft legislation good for Sealaska tribal member shareholders, our homelands and the public,” she said.

A similar bill is currently moving through the U.S. Senate and will be marked up and considered in committee next week.

Sealaska, Values In Action

Sealaska has strengthened business with culture since 1972. We are a Native institution owned by more than 21,000 tribal member shareholders whose core cultural values guide all that Sealaska does and represent the rich heritage of our Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people. We live our values to build excellence in our Native enterprise and take action towards our purpose: to strengthen our people, culture and homelands.

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