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Enrolled HJR 27: Urging the United States Congress to pass legislation amending the Alaska Native Vietnam Veterans Allotment Act to allow deserving veterans to obtain allotments of vacant land within the State of Alaska; and to reopen and legislatively approve allotments in the Tongass National Forest.

00 Enrolled HJR 27                                                                                                         
01 Urging the United States Congress to pass legislation amending the Alaska Native Vietnam                                
02 Veterans Allotment Act to allow deserving veterans to obtain allotments of vacant land within                           
03 the State of Alaska; and to reopen and legislatively approve allotments in the Tongass                                  
04 National Forest.                                                                                                        
05                                          _______________                                                                
06 BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA:                                                             
07      WHEREAS, since 1906, Alaska Natives have had the right to obtain allotments of                                   
08 land under the Alaska Native Allotment Act that was repealed in 1971 by the Alaska Native                               
09 Claims Settlement Act, but with a saving clause for pending applications; and                                           
10      WHEREAS, before the 1971 repeal of the Alaska Native Allotment Act, few                                          
11 allotment applications had been filed or approved because most rural Alaska Natives did not                             
12 learn of the opportunity for an allotment until 1970 when the federal government initiated an                           
13 effort to inform and assist potential allotment applicants; and                                                         
14      WHEREAS many Alaska Native Vietnam era veterans did not have the opportunity                                     
15 to apply for allotments before the Alaska Native Allotment Act was repealed because they                                
16 were serving in the military before, during, and after the period when the government                                   
01 informed Alaska Natives about the opportunity for allotments; and                                                       
02      WHEREAS the United States Congress enacted 43 U.S.C. 1629g, commonly referred                                    
03 to as the Alaska Native Vietnam Veterans Allotment Act, in 1998 to allow certain veterans a                             
04 chance to apply for allotments, but the numerous restrictions in this Act, restrictions that were                       
05 not in the Alaska Native Allotment Act, have unfairly disqualified the majority of the                                  
06 applications filed and discouraged many from applying; and                                                              
07      WHEREAS amendments to the Alaska Native Vietnam Veterans Allotment Act that                                      
08 provide a fair opportunity for Alaska Native Vietnam veterans to obtain allotments were                                 
09 previously introduced in the United States Congress to remove many of the obstacles                                     
10 preventing Alaska Native Vietnam veterans from obtaining an allotment; and                                              
11      WHEREAS basic justice will also be served by the Congress's enacting legislation                                 
12 that will allow approximately 300 allotment cases closed under the federal court decision in                            
13 Shields v. United States, 698 F.2d 987 (9 Cir., 1983), to be reopened and approved; and                                 
14      WHEREAS, given that land in Southeast Alaska was withdrawn for the Tongass                                       
15 National Forest by 1909 and that allotment applications are required to "use" land claimed for                          
16 an allotment before that land was withdrawn has resulted in an unfair distribution of                                   
17 allotments statewide, with few in Southeast Alaska; and                                                                 
18      WHEREAS the federal court, in Shields v. United States, decided that the "use"                                   
19 requirement meant the applicant's personal use of the land before it was withdrawn, not use by                          
20 the applicant's ancestors; and                                                                                          
21      WHEREAS the Congress did not define the word "use" in the Alaska Native                                          
22 Allotment Act but could do so now by legislation that defines "use" to include ancestral use,                           
23 which would be applicable to those allotments in Southeast Alaska closed under the decision                             
24 in Shields v. United States;                                                                                            
25      BE IT RESOLVED by the Alaska State Legislature that the United States Congress                                   
26 is urged to pass legislation that amends the Alaska Native Vietnam Veterans Allotment Act to                            
27 allow a fair opportunity for Alaska Native Vietnam veterans to obtain allotments; and be it                             
28      FURTHER RESOLVED that the United States Congress is urged to enact legislation                                   
29 that would reopen and legislatively approve allotments in the Tongass National Forest that                              
30 were closed under the decision in Shields v. United States.                                                             
31      COPIES of this resolution shall be sent to the Honorable Pete Domenici, Chair of the                             
01 U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources; the Honorable Richard Pombo,                                     
02 Chair of the U.S. House Committee on Resources; and the Honorable Ted Stevens and the                                   
03 Honorable Lisa Murkowski, U.S. Senators, and the Honorable Don Young, U.S.                                              
04 Representative, members of the Alaska delegation in Congress.