Statement on Signing the
Haida Land Exchange Act of 1986
November 17, 1986
have approved H.R. 5730, the Haida Land Exchange Act
of 1986, which will authorize a land purchase and transfer agreement between
the United States and the Haida Village Native Corporation in Alaska. The Alaska Native
Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) was intended to provide full and final
compensation to Alaska natives for the
extinguishment of their land claims. It authorized the conveyance of 44 million
acres of public land and the payment of almost $1 billion to regional and
village native corporations in which all natives received shares. The corporate
mechanism was chosen as a means of preventing the kind of Federal interference
in Alaska native affairs that has
often been blamed for impeding economic development and self-determination on
Indian reservations in the lower 48 States. The establishment of a Federal
fiduciary responsibility for assets conveyed to Alaska native corporations was
rejected with the intent of permitting Alaska natives to control
their own destiny. In my view, this policy choice, made after extensive study
and careful deliberation by the Congress, was a wise one. I continue to support
this general approach.
believe, however, that Haida's situation is unique
and warrants a departure from the basic policy of Federal noninvolvement in the
affairs of Alaska native corporations.
The Haida corporation is the
only native corporation established under ANCSA that, because of the unusual
circumstances of geography, was unable to select lands to satisfy its
entitlement under ANCSA from outside its core townships. This unique situation
contributed to the corporation's difficulties and cannot be viewed as a
precedent for any native corporation that may seek special Federal relief in
the future. For these reasons, I have approved this act. Finally, I will oppose
any future efforts to provide additional compensation to Alaska natives for the
extinguishment of their land claims.
H.R. 5730, approved November 17, was assigned Public Law No. 99 - 664.