Obama Administration Opposed to Sealaska Land Proposal

Alaskans testified Wednesday before the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee about the Sealaska Lands Bill.  From left:  Byron Mallott and Jaeleen Kookesh Araujo of Sealaska, Point Baker resident Don Hernandez, Alaska Federation of Natives president Julie Kitka, and hunting and fishing guide Scott Newman of Petersburg.  Mallott, Araujo, and Kitka support the bill, while Hernandez and Newman oppose it.

The Obama Administration weighed in Wednesday on the controversial Sealaska lands bill, signaling that the White House does not support it.  The legislation would allow Sealaska Native Corporation to go outside of the original Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act lands for about 85,000 acres of the Tongass National Forest. But on Wednesday at a Congressional hearing in Washington, the US Department of Agriculture’s Deputy Undersecretary for Forestry, Jay Jensen, said while the Department wants to see Sealaska get its lands due under ANCSA, USDA has concerns about this plan.

Story and Photo by Libby Casey, APRN – Washington

Download Audio (MP3)