Opinion: Tongass Tribe needs own corporation

"The U.S. government owes Sealaska Corp. 85,000 acres of land to fulfill its obligation to Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971. The act promised that the Native people of Southeast Alaska would gain ownership of productive, culturally significant lands.

With that said, four communities were left out of the land claims; Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg and Tenakee Springs. These communities are Tlingit villages.

The Tongass tribe has aboriginal rights to Ketchikan and to all surrounding lands. Tongass tribe is one of the oldest tribes in the Tlingit nation. Why didn't Ketchikan get village corporation status 35 years ago? Don't know. We speculate that it's because we didn't have any representation before the ANCSA passed in 1971. Regardless, Tongass tribe is entitled to its share of ANCSA lands owed by the federal government today. Thirty-five years later, it is our turn to have a village corporation in Ketchikan.

It is my opinion that native regional and village corporations were formed to let non-Native interests extract all our natural resources; timber, oil, minerals and fish. Sealaska shareholders have not benefited from our corporation. We wait twice a year for our meager dividend check that is mostly supported by (7i) revenue sharing by other regional corporations in Alaska."

Get the Story:
Don Hoff Jr: Tongass tribe merits its own corporation (The Anchorage Daily News 11/19)