Legislature(1997 - 1998)

02/24/1998 04:11 PM House MLV

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HJR 51 - SUPPORT H.R. 2924                                                     
                                                                               
Number 0080                                                                    
                                                                               
CHAIR MASEK announced the first order of business would be HJR 51,             
"Relating to support for H.R. 2924, which allows certain Alaska                
Native Vietnam veterans and the Elim Native Corporation to select              
land under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act."                           
                                                                               
DONALD STOLWORTHY, Legislative Administrative Assistant to                     
Representative Beverly Masek, Alaska State Legislature, came                   
forward to present HJR 51.  He read the following statement into               
the record:                                                                    
                                                                               
"During the Vietnam Era, between 800 and 2,000 Alaska Natives                  
serving in the armed forces missed their opportunity to apply for              
their Native land allotments under the Alaska Native Claims                    
Settlement Act (ANCSA).  These veterans were either serving in                 
combat zones, or were overlooked by the Bureau of Indian Affairs               
(BIA).                                                                         
                                                                               
"Alaska Congressman Don Young has introduced H.R. 2924 into the                
United States Congress in an attempt to rectify this inequity.                 
H.R. 2924 would amend ANCSA to allow these overlooked veterans an              
opportunity to apply for their Native land allotments.  It would               
also restore 50,000 acres to the Elim Native Corporation's land                
entitlement, which was improperly removed by President Hoover                  
through a presidential executive order.                                        
                                                                               
"The resolution simply calls on the Alaska State Legislature to                
support Congressman Young's efforts to right these wrongs."                    
                                                                               
Number 0188                                                                    
                                                                               
MR. STOLWORTHY noted HJR 51 has a zero fiscal note.                            
                                                                               
Number 0218                                                                    
                                                                               
CHAIR MASEK informed the committee she has a proposed technical                
amendment that would make the resolution more accurate and reflect             
H.R. 2924.  On page 1, line 2, after "veterans" add the word "era."            
It would then read, "Relating to support for H.R. 2924, which                  
allows certain Alaska Native Vietnam era veterans..."  Chair Masek             
said the same amendment should be made to page 1, line 7.                      
                                                                               
Number 0295                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE PETE KOTT moved to adopt those changes as Amendment             
1.  There being no objection, Amendment 1 was adopted.                         
                                                                               
Number 0355                                                                    
                                                                               
LAWRENCE SIFSOF testified via teleconference from Dillingham in                
support of HJR 51.  He stated he supports H.R. 2924.  Mr. Sifsof               
explained he is an Alaskan Native and spent two years in the Army              
in 1969 and 1970, and one year in Vietnam.  Mr. Sifsof said 1971               
was the last year Alaska Natives could select 160 acres of land and            
he was in Vietnam at the time of the selection.  He said when many             
Natives returned from Vietnam, all the land that had easy access               
was gone.  Mr. Sifsof informed the committee when he came back from            
Vietnam he had no money.  He continued to discuss the hardship he              
had saving money.  Mr. Sifsof urged that HJR 51 be passed.                     
                                                                               
Number 0578                                                                    
                                                                               
DAN NODEN was next to testify via conference from Dillingham in                
support of HJR 51.  He  informed the committee he is a Vietnam                 
Veteran.  He referred to the 1971 deadline and said he never kept              
too close a track of anything that was important to his future, so             
he didn't stake any land and didn't even think of it until the                 
deadline had passed.  Mr. Noden  pointed out that even if he did               
think of it, he had no transportation to get to parcels of land to             
stake it.  He thanked the committee for listening to him.                      
                                                                               
Number 0692                                                                    
                                                                               
PATRICK CHIKLAK, JR., Realty Department, Bristol Bay Native                    
Association, testified via teleconferece from Dillingham.  He                  
explained his job is to help clients get title to Native                       
allotments.  He stated he believes HJR 51 and H.R. 2924 are good               
bills.  Our veterans were serving the country at the time of the               
land claims.  Mr. Chiklak continued to read excerpts out of the                
United States Code, Section 278 and 279, and said he would like                
similar language added to H.R. 2924.  He discussed lengthening the             
time frame that Veterans would have to reapply.                                
                                                                               
CHAIR MASEK asked Mr. Chiklak to forward the excerpts to her office            
so she can distribute them to the committee members.  She also                 
noted that some of the issues Mr. Chiklak discussed should be                  
addressed at the congressional level.                                          
                                                                               
Number 1080                                                                    
                                                                               
LAURENCE O'NEILL was next to testify via teleconference from                   
Anchorage.  He informed the committee that in 1969 he entered the              
United States Army and was in the Infantry.  He said he served from            
March of 1970, until October of 1971, in Vietnam.  When he was done            
serving in the Army, he came back to Alaska and found out that                 
there was a Native allotment selection and he had missed out.  Mr.             
O'Neill said he notified the BIA, but they told him there was                  
nothing that could be done.  Since that time, everything has been              
on hold.  He pointed out that when he was in Vietnam he gave more              
than 100 percent and was willing to give his life for his country.             
Mr. O'Neill said he would love to see the leaders of our country               
give the same that he had given during the war.  He referred to the            
land he is filing for and said his family has lived on that land               
and it has very traditional and culture values.                                
                                                                               
Number 1215                                                                    
                                                                               
PETER CHRISTOPHER testified via teleconference from New Stuyahok in            
support of HJR 51.  He said he joined the United States Naval                  
Service in September, 1971. and served three and a half years and              
was done in September, 1975.  He said he had no choice in joining              
because his draft number was low.  That was right after he                     
graduated from high school.  He stated that he wasn't in the state             
at the time of Native allotment section.  Mr. Christopher indicated            
he served the country and he shouldn't have such a hard time                   
receiving a Native allotment.  He informed the committee of the                
subsistence sites that his family has used.  He said he is in full             
support of HJR 51.                                                             
                                                                               
Number 1409                                                                    
                                                                               
VERNE N. GOLIA was the next witness to testify via teleconference              
from Dillingham.  He indicated that when the ANCSA was enacted,                
there were people who were serving the country.  They went to a                
foreign country.  He said he served from August of 1966 to August              
of 1967.  When he came back, he really didn't understand what was              
going on.  He had heard about ANCSA, but his mind wasn't right.  He            
urged that the legislation be passed.                                          
                                                                               
Number 1547                                                                    
                                                                               
VICTOR SIFSOF testified via teleconference from Dillingham.  He                
informed the committee members he is the past president of                     
Choggiung, Limited, a Native Corporation in Dillingham.  He stated             
he is currently the Native Hire Coordinator for Bristol Bay                    
Hospital Corporation.  He said he isn't a veteran, but has felt                
very strongly about this issue for years as he had a brother and               
number of friends that went to war.  They didn't have an                       
opportunity to get the land that the rest of the people were                   
getting.  Mr. Sifsof said he strongly supports HJR 51.  He said his            
brother actually used a piece of land for hunting and trapping, and            
when he returned, somebody else had already got the land.  He                  
stated when his brother returned, he was a changed person and it               
took several years for him to start focusing on anything.  He urged            
that the resolution be passed.                                                 
                                                                               
Number 1656                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE JOE RYAN said if you read the congressional record,             
in addition to Congressman Young's testimony, there is testimony               
from Richard Rolland, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Land and Minerals            
Management.  Secretary Rolland addresses the entitlement for the               
Elim Corporation, but says there has been an over selection.                   
Representative Ryan quoted from Mr. Rolland's comments, "Moreover              
the proposed amendment presents a problem in that about 11,440                 
acres of described lands proposed for conveyance to Elim had been              
probably selected by the Native Village Koyuk.  This would leave               
only 38,560 acres for Elim instead of the 50,000 they desire.  The             
proposed amendment is included in H.R. 3157.  It should include                
clear congressional intent and guidance to which (indisc.) receive             
the 11,440 acres and provides that the conveyance is in full                   
satisfaction of Elim's entitlement under Section 19(B)."                       
Representative Ryan asked Chair Masek if she knows if Congressman              
Young has addressed that in his bill or will that be something that            
will have to be revisited.                                                     
                                                                               
Number 1712                                                                    
                                                                               
CHAIR MASEK responded that Congressman Young has written her a                 
letter, dated December 17, that the committee members should have              
in their committee file.  The letter states that there will be a               
hearing scheduled, but a date hasn't been set as of yet.  Chair                
Masek said she assumes those issues will be brought up during that             
hearing.  She suggested contacting Congressman Young regarding the             
issue.  She noted it will probably take over a year and a half for             
them to go through the lengthy process of going through ANCSA to               
try and find where the lands will come from.  She indicated she                
would follow-up with Congressman Young regarding that issue.                   
                                                                               
CHAIR MASEK said there were no other witnesses to testify.                     
                                                                               
Number 1763                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE ELDON MULDER made a motion to move CSHJR 51 from                
committee with the accompanying fiscal notes and individual                    
recommendations.                                                               
                                                                               
CHAIR MASEK asked if there was an objection.  There being none,                
CSHJR 51(MLV) moved out of the Special Committee on Military and               
Veterans' Affairs.                                                             
                                                                               
HJR 51 - SUPPORT H.R. 2924                                                     
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE RICHARD FOSTER referred to HJR 51, which was heard              
earlier during the meeting, and said he has a conflict of interest             
as he is one-quarter Eskimo, was in Vietnam and missed the entire              
selection process.                                                             
                                                                               
CHAIR MASEK indicated that it would be noted in the record.                    

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