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Sitka Tribe of Alaska Signs Redoubt Agreement with Sealaska

Sealaska signed an agreement with Sitka Tribe of Alaska today to articulate management of lands sought by Sealaska under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA). This agreement provides guidance for tribal management of Kunáa (the Redoubt Lake area), selections Sealaska has sought since filing under an ANCSA provision in 1976. The selection process is pending before the Bureau of Land Management.  Sealaska Board Chair Albert Kookesh and Sitka Tribe of Alaska Chair Mike Baines signed the agreement, with Dr. Rosita Worl, president of Sealaska Heritage Institute, and members of both organizations witnessing.

Sealaska’s primary purpose in seeking title to the land in that area is to protect its cultural and historic significance. Use and management of the property must comply with the land conveyance restrictions pursuant to ANCSA. The site is the traditional Tlingit fishing village of Kunáa, historically owned by the Kiks.ádi clan.

Under ANCSA, Sealaska owns acreage in the Southeast Alaska region that contains Native historic sites, according to Kookesh. “These sites will eventually be transferred from our control to the management and control of the tribes and clans,” he said. “We absolutely believe that the management of these sites has to be in the control of those tribes where they fall within their boundaries.”

Redoubt Lake lands, which contain a substantial sockeye and Coho salmon subsistence and ceremonial use fishery, hold cultural and historic significance to the federally recognized Sitka Tribe of Alaska. Tribal citizens have fished and accessed resources there since time immemorial. The lands are also where the U.S. Department of Agriculture maintains a weir and conducts lake fertilization.

“We know the site is sacred to the tribal members that once owned these lands as a traditional use area, but the area is also important to the public at large. This agreement recognizes that the public will continue to have access to that site for subsistence fisheries,” said Worl. “This is very memorable for us, something that we’re very excited about in terms of establishing good relationships, formal relationships with our tribes.”

Sitka Tribe of Alaska has worked with Sealaska for years on issues of common interest consistent with Native cultural and historic values, according to Baines. “It’s been a real exciting process.  We had several meetings . . . council meetings, and I met with Albert and Rosita and their tribal attorney in Juneau,” he said. “It’s real exciting to see it come to a culmination like this.  I thank you all for coming from Sealaska.”

In 2012 Sealaska and Sitka Tribe of Alaska signed a broad memorandum of understanding that formalized a common desire to work together on the management of cultural sites in or near Sitka that are on Sealaska land.

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