Congressman Young Addresses AFN Board Retreat and Secretary Sally Jewell
“That Is Their Decision; It’s Not Yours Madam Secretary”
Anchorage, AK – Yesterday, during his address to the Alaska Federation of Natives Board Retreat in Kotzebue, Alaskan Congressman Don Young called into question the Obama Administration’s many actions and proposals that take away the rights of Alaskans to responsibly develop their land for their social and economic well-being, as written in the Alaska Native Settlement Claims Act.
“We often talk about balance. We need the right balance for resource development, not the left balance,” said Congressman Young. “The left balance leaves us with L, locks us up; E, entanglement; F, feeds us the leftovers you give us; T, tramples on the rights of the original Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). ANCSA has been trampled on by this Administration the same way the State of Alaska has been trampled on.”
Congressman Young later questioned the lack of support Alaska Natives and American Indians receive from the Agency entrusted with upholding the federal governments sacred trust responsibility.
“The BIA is the last priority for the Department of Interior, the least heard of all, with the least authority. Unfortunately, the authority they do have is used to keep Alaska Natives and American Indians in their place. They prevent them from moving forward and providing for themselves,” Congressman Young said. “You now have federal agencies like the EPA that say before you build a bridge, before you can develop your land, you must mitigate it for the government. This type of mitigation ends up taking lands away from our people, going directly against ANCSA… Where was the BIA? Silent. Where was DOI? Silent. That has to stop if we’re going to implement the true belief that these 44 million acres of land were given to the Alaska Native people for their social and economic well-being.”
Congressman Young called upon Alaskans and statewide leaders to stand united against attacks to self determination and responsible development.
“If we don’t, outside interest groups will continue their attack and the Administration will listen. You can easily get 400,000 comments on ANWR from Green Peace on the internet, but did they really consult the people that live in the Arctic? No. Did they really have a true understanding of the issue? No. Did the listen to a splinter group? Probably,” said Congressman Young. “Congress is not going to do what they’ve asked. We will not make this a wilderness area. That is a fact. But the continued support from our Alaskan leaders in still critically important because this issue is much broader.”
In closing, Congressman Young spoke directly to Secretary Jewell, saying he would look for opportunities to change current law to ensure Alaska Natives have the ability to develop their own land without government interference.
“To give a Native group land on one hand and say they can’t develop on the other is wrong. That is their decision; it’s not yours Madam Secretary. It belongs to them; it was given to them by Congress for their well being.”