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Alaska Native organization seeks land for 5 communities

An Alaska Native advocacy group is seeking land and the establishment of Native corporations for communities that were omitted from a federal settlement, officials said.

Some tribal communities excluded when Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act passed in 1971

A view of Ketchikan, Alaska, in 2103. Alaska Natives Without Land wants a change to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act on behalf of Ketchikan, Haines, Petersburg, Tenakee Springs and Wrangell. (The Associated Press/Ketchikan Daily News/Hall Anderson)

An Alaska Native advocacy group is seeking land and the establishment of Native corporations for communities that were omitted from a federal settlement, officials said.

Alaska Natives Without Land wants a change to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act on behalf of Haines, Ketchikan, Petersburg, Tenakee Springs and Wrangell, The Juneau Empire reported.

Some tribal communities were excluded when the act passed in December 1971, leading to the creation of Alaska Native regional, urban and village corporations. The act also transferred 178,062 square kilometres of land to those
corporations, officials said.

A change to the federal act would require a vote in Congress.

Alaska Natives Without Land held an event Peratrovich Hall in Juneau last Saturday to build support and share information about the issue, said Todd Antioquia, the group's campaign and volunteer co-ordinator.

"We want to rally support," Antioquia said. "We want to build awareness of why it's so important."

The proposed amendment to the act would affect 4,400 enrolled shareholders in landless communities. Since its passage, 48 per cent of registered landless shareholders have died, Antioquia said.

Alaska Natives received $962 million under the settlement act, but Antioquia said a monetary component is not being pursued in the new proposal.

Alaska Natives Without Land is supported by Sealaska regional Native corporation, which proposed establishing five urban corporations and allotting each of them 93 square kilometres.

The amount of land would be less than one per cent of the Tongass National Forest and its uses would be determined by the individual corporations, Sealaska board member Nicole Hallingstad said.

"Each community has the inherent right to decide," Hallingstad said.

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