Chris McNeil: Bill fulfills promise to Alaska Native corporation

"Today the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people share the Tongass National Forest with everyone. But only a few generations ago our people owned and governed this vast rainforest according to our time-honored laws and traditions.

The Tongass -- what we call Haa Aaní -- remains our homeland. In 1971 we settled our land claims with the United States, accepting the promise in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) to return less than 2 percent of our aboriginal lands.

Some land has since been returned to Sealaska Corporation, an Alaska Native corporation owned by more than 20,000 Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people. Congress created Sealaska to administer the land settlement and provide social, cultural and economic benefits to our tribal member shareholders.

After 40 years we are still waiting for Congress to restore up to 85,000 acres in a way that is fair and equitable to our Native communities."

Get the Story:
Chris McNeil: Lands bill would fulfill Tongass promise (The Anchorage Daily News 6/14)

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