Thank you Alaska Federation of Natives for a legacy of leadership
I would like to offer my deepfelt thanks to the Alaska Federation of Natives for voting to allow Southeast Alaska Natives to join the statewide land claims effort to settle our aboriginal land claims. In the years since the enactment of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, we have received untold economic, social, political and cultural benefits. Additionally, we were able to benefit from the riches of other regions as a result of Section 7 (i) of ANCSA revenue sharing provisions.
A number of regions opposed Sealaska’s inclusion in the land claims effort because we had received a partial land claims settlement for the taking of lands to create the Tongass National Forest, the Glacier Bay National Monument and the Metlakatla Tsimshian Reservation under the Tlingit and Haida judicial settlement.
John Borbridge and Byron Mallott provided the leadership for Southeast when the AFN vote was split on the motion to include Sealaska. However, thanks to Emil Notti, who cast the deciding vote in Sealaska’s favor, and other AFN board members, such as Willie Hensley, who believed that the paltry sum of $7 million paid to Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indians for the taking of over 20 million prime lands in Southeast was unjust, AFN voted to include Sealaska.
Through the past five decades we have benefited from AFN’s advocacy to protect our subsistence rights; to secure recognition of tribes and tribal rights at the national and state levels; and to obtain equitable funding and access to governmental services among a range of other benefits. I had the opportunity to sit on the AFN Board of Directors and saw the strength in a collective voice.
Again, may I thank AFN and its leadership for continuing its advocacy for Alaska Natives and advocacy efforts that benefit the state as a whole.
Rosita Ḵaaháni Worl, Ph.D.,
Former AFN Board of Directors member