U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, spoke at a legislative hearing held by the Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining to highlight the importance of S. 1481, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) Improvement Act. The bill, sponsored by Murkowski and Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, will help ensure that ANCSA continues to serve and benefit Alaska Natives as Congress intended.
“Back in 1971, Congress passed ANCSA to settle the aboriginal land claims of Alaska Natives, clearing the way for Alaska Natives to receive 44 million acres of land and $962 million of compensation,” Murkowski said. “The law also pioneered a new method for U.S. treatment of Native Americans through the establishment of corporations to provide a continuing stream of income to help improve the lives of Alaska Natives.”
“This legislation is long overdue. It remedies and perfects legislation we passed 47 years ago. I hope my colleagues will join Sen. Sullivan and me in supporting S. 1481, so that we can finally fulfill the promises that Congress made to Alaska Natives all those years ago,” Murkowski concluded.
Subcommittee members received testimony from the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The Deputy Director of Policy and Programs for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Brian Steed, expressed the administration’s support for S. 1481.
“The Department is proud to support the efforts of the sponsors to bring about resolution of many issues facing Alaska Native communities,” Steed said. “The Department supports this legislation and looks forward to working with the sponsors and the Committee on technical modifications to specific sections [of the bill].”
Murkowski and Sullivan introduced the ANCSA Improvement Act of 2017 to correct oversights in the original Act and other federal statutes to respond to challenges ranging from erosion to incomplete land selections affecting Alaska Native communities. More information on the bill is available on the committee’s website.