Legislature(2021 - 2022)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

04/27/2021 03:30 PM COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ HB 10 FUNTER BAY MARINE PARK: UNANGAN CEMETERY TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+= SB 81 VILLAGE PUBLIC SAFETY OFFICER GRANTS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
         HB 10-FUNTER BAY MARINE PARK: UNANGAN CEMETERY                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:31:33 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES  announced the consideration  of HOUSE BILL  NO. 10,                                                               
"An Act relating to the Funter  Bay marine park unit of the state                                                               
park system; relating to protection  of the social and historical                                                               
significance  of  the Unangan  cemetery  located  in Funter  Bay;                                                               
providing  for  the amendment  of  the  management plan  for  the                                                               
Funter  Bay marine  park  unit; and  providing  for an  effective                                                               
date."                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
She identified the invited testifiers.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:32:20 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SARA HANNAN,  Alaska  State Legislature,  Juneau,                                                               
Alaska, sponsor of  HB 10, explained that the  cemetery that this                                                               
legislation  proposes to  add to  the existing  Funter Bay  State                                                               
Marine  Park is  located about  14 miles  due west  of Juneau  in                                                               
Funter Bay on  the northern tip of Admiralty Island.  She said it                                                               
was  an ocean  away for  the Unangax  people who  were forced  to                                                               
relocate from the Pribilof Islands,  and ecosystem was completely                                                               
different.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
She noted  that this bill was  heard in the 31st  legislature but                                                               
did not make it through the process.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:33:32 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HUGHES  recognized  that Senator  Wilson  had  joined  the                                                               
committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN continued the introduction of HB 10                                                                       
relaying the information in the following sponsor statement:                                                                    
[Original punctuation provided.]                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     HB 10  will transfer the  parcel of land  that includes                                                                    
     the Unangax cemetery in Funter  Bay from the Department                                                                    
     of Natural Resources Division of  Land Mining and Water                                                                    
     to  the Department  of  Natural  Resources Division  of                                                                    
     Parks and Recreation.  The parcel will be  added to the                                                                    
     Funter Bay  Marine park unit  of the state  park system                                                                    
     for land management.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     HB  10  will  preserve  the  cemetery  and  ensure  its                                                                    
     protection so that  we may remember those  who died and                                                                    
     recognize  the social  and  historical significance  of                                                                    
     the site.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     When the  Japanese invaded the Aleutian  Islands during                                                                    
     WWII,  the Unangax  people were  forcibly removed  from                                                                    
     the Pribilof Islands and  interned in Southeast Alaska.                                                                    
     Some were  sent to  Killisnoo near Angoon,  others were                                                                    
     sent  to  Burnett  Inlet,  some   were  sent  to  other                                                                    
     Southeast locations  and the  rest were sent  to Funter                                                                    
     Bay near Juneau. They were  given little notice and the                                                                    
     villagers  could take  only what  they could  carry. It                                                                    
     was hasty and traumatic.  The Unangax were abandoned in                                                                    
     old  cannery bunk  houses not  meant to  house so  many                                                                    
     people  and  not  built for  protection  from  winter's                                                                    
     harshness.  Entire  families  were sheltered  in  small                                                                    
     cubicles   that  were   separated  sometimes   only  by                                                                    
     blankets.  The living  conditions  were unsanitary  and                                                                    
     there was inadequate food supply,  no medical care, and                                                                    
     no  facilities  for  bathing,   cooking  or  using  the                                                                    
     bathroom.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Less than  30 miles away  in Excursion Inlet,  700 Nazi                                                                    
     Afrika Korps  officers were imprisoned  at a  POW camp.                                                                    
     The  Nazis,  sworn enemies  of  the  United States  and                                                                    
     allies,  were  treated  far  better  than  the  Unangax                                                                    
     because   their    conditions   were    guaranteed   by                                                                    
     international  law.   The  700  German   prisoners  all                                                                    
     returned home after the war  without a single one dying                                                                    
     during their imprisonment.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Back on  the Pribilofs, the  homes of the  Unangax were                                                                    
     occupied by  the U.S.  military and  looted, vandalized                                                                    
     and some  were even burned  down. The Unangax  men were                                                                    
     forced  back to  the Pribilofs  to harvest  seal during                                                                    
     the summer months  because the revenue was  a source of                                                                    
     income for  the U.S. government.  The men did  not want                                                                    
     to leave their  families but were told  that they would                                                                    
     not be  permitted to  return to  their homes  after the                                                                    
     war  if they  did  not  help harvest  seal.  This is  a                                                                    
     disturbing parallel  to when the Russians  enslaved the                                                                    
     Unangax nearly  two centuries  earlier and  forced them                                                                    
     to harvest seal on the then uninhabited Pribilofs.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     The  Unangax were  left in  the camp  almost two  years                                                                    
     after  it  was  considered  safe to  return  home.  The                                                                    
     deadly conditions  of the camp left  the Unangax people                                                                    
     to  suffer  needlessly.  As a  direct  result  of  this                                                                    
     policy,  many Unangax  interned in  Southeast died  and                                                                    
     some  are  buried in  a  cemetery  in Funter  Bay.  The                                                                    
     descendants of those who were  lost have maintained the                                                                    
     grave sites for 75 years.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     This  bill will  protect the  cemetery and  surrounding                                                                    
     area  for  future  generations without  any  additional                                                                    
     cost to the state.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN stated  that HB 10 would move  250 acres of                                                               
state land in Funter Bay into  an existing state marine park that                                                               
was  established in  the  early 1980s.  She  explained that  when                                                               
constituents  brought  the  idea   for  protecting  the  cemetery                                                               
forward, she  approached the Department of  Natural Resources who                                                               
suggested moving  all remaining  parcels of  state land  into the                                                               
state park.  The department pointed  out that this  would provide                                                               
more   efficient   management    because   oversight   would   be                                                               
consolidated  under the  Division of  State Parks  and Recreation                                                               
rather  than  the current  two  agency  management and  oversight                                                               
system.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN said HB 10  will protect the historical and                                                               
cultural significance of  the cemetery with about  35 graves. She                                                               
directed attention to an image  of the Unangax Cemetery and noted                                                               
that the first headstone was for a  baby that died in the fall of                                                               
1942, just a few months after  arriving. She pointed out that the                                                               
residents of the other internment  camps were able to return home                                                               
two years earlier than those who were held in Funter Bay.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
She summarized  that SB 10  preserves the cemetery by  placing it                                                               
in  an  existing  state  park,  and  it  is  at  the  request  of                                                               
descendants  of  those who  have  family  members buried  at  the                                                               
Funter Bay Unangax Cemetery.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:40:09 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES asked  if the baby whose grave  marker she mentioned                                                               
died the same year as the relocation.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN answered yes; it was June 1942.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  HUGHES  asked what  year  the  Funter Bay  detainees  were                                                               
allowed to return to the Pribilofs.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HANNAN answered  that  people  from Dutch  Harbor                                                               
were allowed return home in 1944.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:41:12 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HUGHES asked  if there  is any  formal designation  of the                                                               
cemetery as an historical site and if it has a formal name.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN answered that  the cemetery has always been                                                               
known  and it  will be  protected by  being in  the state  marine                                                               
park, but  it is  rural and rustic.  The Russian  Orthodox Church                                                               
has been working with descendants  to arrange memorial visits and                                                               
a working  group has been  cleaning up and maintaining  the grave                                                               
sites for  five or six years.  The working group and  the Friends                                                               
of  Admiralty  have  plans  to  put  up  historical  markers  and                                                               
signage. She  deferred further  explanation to  her staff  who is                                                               
part of the working group.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:44:25 PM                                                                                                                    
TIM  CLARK,  Staff,  Representative  Sara  Hannan,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, Juneau,  Alaska, stated  that the working  group has                                                               
been meeting  weekly for about  three years. This is  a dedicated                                                               
group of  descendants from  Saint Paul  and Saint  George, people                                                               
from  the  Aleutians   to  the  Tlingit  &   Haida  community  in                                                               
Southeast, Friends of  Admiralty, and the Juneau  City Museum. He                                                               
advised that the  signage that was mentioned is  intended to help                                                               
identify the short trail from the beach to the cemetery.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:46:48 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES commented that she has  roots in the general area of                                                               
Funter Bay, but she did not  realize that the people relocated to                                                               
Funter Bay were from Saint Paul  and Saint George, which is where                                                               
her  husband spent  time  in  the 1970s  to  the 1990s  providing                                                               
medical care. She  asked how long it takes to  travel from Juneau                                                               
to Funter Bay by water.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:47:22 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN  answered that it  depends on the  speed of                                                               
the boat  but generally it  is about an hour  to an hour  and one                                                               
half.  She  noted  that  the  limiting  factor  often  isn't  the                                                               
distance, but that  the water from the northern  end of Admiralty                                                               
Island down to Funter Bay can be treacherous.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:49:08 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES  commented on the  possibility of a  committee field                                                               
trip  to  Funter Bay  and  asked  how  many  graves were  in  the                                                               
cemetery.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HANNAN  answered  that  the  U.S.  National  Park                                                               
Service looked  at the possibility  of an  historical designation                                                               
for  all the  relocation camps  and that  survey determined  that                                                               
there are 32 documented graves  at Funter Bay. However, that does                                                               
not account for the unmarked graves  and those that were moved to                                                               
the  cemetery  in  Juneau  where there  was  a  Russian  Orthodox                                                               
priest.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR HUGHES asked Mr. Clark to proceed with the PowerPoint.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:50:28 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. CLARK  advised that the  PowerPoint provides visual  aids for                                                               
the  information  Representative  Hannon has  already  given.  He                                                               
directed  attention  to the  image  on  slide  2 of  the  Unangax                                                               
Cemetery  in Funter  Bay  in  2017. This  was  the  trip that  he                                                               
accompanied  then Speaker  Edgmon and  his constituents  from the                                                               
Pribilofs and  other locations in  western Alaska  to commemorate                                                               
the 75th anniversary of the  relocation. He noted that the moving                                                               
ceremony  included   Tlingit  elders,  Russian   Orthodox  Church                                                               
officials,  and  other  interested  parties. A  large  cross  was                                                               
erected to mark the entrance to the cemetery.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CLARK displayed  the maps  on slides  3 and  4 that  offer a                                                               
perspective of  the location of  Funter Bay  on the west  side of                                                               
Admiralty Island  relative to Juneau and  a close up of  the land                                                               
designations  around the  shoreline of  Funter Bay.  The sections                                                               
marked  A01 reflect  the 162  acres  of the  existing Funter  Bay                                                               
Marine Park. The  section marked A02 is the primary  area that HB
10  proposes to  add  to the  existing park;  it  comes close  to                                                               
connecting  the  noncontiguous A01  areas.  It  also includes  an                                                               
island of state land in front  of the cannery that would be added                                                               
to the park.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:53:07 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES asked if there was  still a gap between the existing                                                               
A01 areas.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. CLARK answered yes, it reflects  private land in the area. He                                                               
referenced the  large area on the  south side of the  bay colored                                                               
yellow  and offered  his understanding  of  the ownership.  [This                                                               
area  represents  old  mining  claims   in  the  area,  shoreline                                                               
portions of which are private recreational properties.]                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:53:52 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. CLARK displayed  the images on slide 5 of  a baby's headstone                                                               
and the remnants  of one of the old cannery  bunk houses that was                                                               
used  to house  the [Unangax  people  from Saint  Paul] who  were                                                               
relocated  to Funter  Bay.  [The people  from  Saint George  were                                                               
housed across the bay at the old mine site.]                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
He  concluded  the  presentation   with  a  graphic  showing  the                                                               
location of  the internment  camp in Funter  Bay relative  to the                                                               
internment  camps   in  Killisnoo   near  Angoon,   the  Wrangell                                                               
Institute, Burnett Inlet, and Ward Lake near Ketchikan.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:55:11 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MYERS  asked when and  why the existing Funter  Bay State                                                               
Marine Park was created.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN answered that the  park was created in 1983                                                               
as a  rural marine  park. She offered  her understanding  that it                                                               
was  created  to ensure  that  recreational  boaters always  have                                                               
access; that the shoreline is  not entirely private. She deferred                                                               
further explanation to the current superintendent of the park.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:57:07 PM                                                                                                                    
PRESTON  KROES, Superintendent,  Southeast  Region, Alaska  State                                                               
Parks,  Department of  Natural Resources  (DNR), Juneau,  Alaska,                                                               
explained  that the  Funter Bay  Marine Park  was created  to set                                                               
aside state land for recreation  purposes. The state has a number                                                               
of state  marine parks but in  the Juneau area there  is St James                                                               
Bay, Taku Harbor,  Funter Bay, Pavlov Harbor, and  the 14 Channel                                                               
Islands in the Auke Bay area.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:58:11 PM                                                                                                                    
RICKY GEASE,  Director, Division  of State Parks  and Recreation,                                                               
Department  of  Natural   Resources,  Anchorage,  Alaska,  stated                                                               
support for HB 10 on behalf of  the division. He said it would be                                                               
easy  to  accept the  management  responsibility  for this  site,                                                               
which has  historical significance to  the state and  the culture                                                               
and memory of  the Unangax people. He related that  Mr. Kroes and                                                               
his staff have  been have been privileged to work  with a diverse                                                               
group of organizations and individuals  on ways to provide better                                                               
management   and  protection   for   this  significant   cultural                                                               
resource.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:59:22 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES  asked when the  request first  was made to  add the                                                               
cemetery to the  Funter Bay State Marine Park and  who brought it                                                               
forward.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:59:57 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. KROES  answered that the  issue was brought to  his attention                                                               
shortly after  he became  superintendent 3.5  years ago.  At that                                                               
time  he learned  that Martin  Stepetin, whose  grandparents were                                                               
interned at Funter  Bay, already was working  with the division's                                                               
citizens  advisory group  on ways  to protect  the cemetery.  Mr.                                                               
Kroes related  that when he  looked at  the issue he  suggested a                                                               
possible solution to  provide protection was to  add the cemetery                                                               
to the existing state marine  park. He credited Mr. Stepetin with                                                               
trying to  get the site  designated a national landmark  and said                                                               
that  while  that was  unsuccessful  at  the  time, it  might  be                                                               
revisited in the future.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. KROES addressed  earlier questions. He advised  that the name                                                               
of the  park would  continue to  be the  Funter Bay  State Marine                                                               
Park and the cemetery would be  an historic site within the park.                                                               
He noted  that the division  was working with tribal  members and                                                               
elders  from  Saint  Paul  and   Saint  George  to  develop  four                                                               
interpretive  panels that  will  be placed  in  Funter Bay.  With                                                               
regard to the  question about funding and  improving the cemetery                                                               
area,  he clarified  that there  is not  funding attached  to the                                                               
bill.  He expressed  hope  that funding  from  an existing  grant                                                               
program  could be  used to  reroute and  improve the  trail, make                                                               
improvements   to   the   cemetery  itself,   and   install   the                                                               
interpretive panels.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR HUGHES  thanked him  for the information  and asked  him to                                                               
consider whether  the stakeholders  might want  a formal  name in                                                               
statute for the cemetery.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:03:53 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES held HB 10 in committee for future consideration.                                                                  

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 10 Sponsor Statement 1.15.2021.pdf SCRA 4/27/2021 3:30:00 PM
HB 10
HB 10 Support Document-TDX.pdf SCRA 4/27/2021 3:30:00 PM
HB 10
HB 10 Support Letters 4.12.2021.pdf SCRA 4/27/2021 3:30:00 PM
HB 10
HB 10 V. A 4.12.2021.PDF SCRA 4/27/2021 3:30:00 PM
HB 10
HB 10 Land Status and Boundaries Map of Admiralty Island-Funter Bay 3.9.2021.pdf SCRA 4/27/2021 3:30:00 PM
HB 10
HB 10 PowerPoint Presentation 2.18.2021.pdf SCRA 4/27/2021 3:30:00 PM
HB 10
HB 10 Zero Fiscal Note HB010-DNR-PKS-03-05-2021.PDF SCRA 4/27/2021 3:30:00 PM
HB 10
HB 10 Sectional Analysis Version A 1.15.2021.pdf SCRA 4/27/2021 3:30:00 PM
HB 10
CSSB 81 v. I Legislation 4.27.21.pdf SCRA 4/27/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 81
CSSB 81 Version I Explanation of Changes 4.27.21.pdf SCRA 4/27/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 81
HB 10 Support Letter-Alaska Miners Association 4.27.21.pdf SCRA 4/27/2021 3:30:00 PM
HB 10
HB 10 Support Letter- Hecla Greens Creek Mining Company 4.27.21.pdf SCRA 4/27/2021 3:30:00 PM
HB 10