The Alaska congressional delegation has bills pending in both the Senate and House to allow five towns in Southeast to form Native Village corporations. The towns of Haines, Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg and Tenakee were left out in 1971, when the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act was passed. But Juneau and Sitka were included. It’s not the first time Alaska Congress members have introduced bills to allow the towns to select federal lands. The bills have failed to pass because the issue is controversial – the land would have to come out of the Tongass National Forest. The “landless village” issue came up for discussion at the Wrangell Assembly, along with another bill, also controversial, to grant land selections in southern Southeast to the Sealaska Regional Native Corporation.
Tony Gorman, KSTK – Wrangell
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