Legislature(1997 - 1998)
02/24/1998 04:11 PM House MLV
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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.