The following is public testimony given by John Martin, Sr. of Hoonah, AK against S.872 – Unrecognized Southeast Alaska Native Communities Recognition and Compensation Act. The bill is currently being considered by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. If passed, it would convey land to the five landless communities of Wrangell, Petersburg, Tenakee, Ketchikan and Haines in the form of ANCSA Corporations.
Members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee,
I am presenting a written document in lieu of a video clip that was prepared for this hearing.
Gunal’cheesh gaaw ux’ jeet ye teeyi ya x’ax’ da taani ha tlatke daat.
(Thank you for allowing me time to speak about our Tribal Lands in Tenakee.)
Keiheenouk’ yu x’at duwa sakw Lingit xei nax.
(My Lingit name is Keiheenouk’)
My English name is John Martin, Sr. I was born and raised in Tenakee, Alaska. I am the Clan Leader for the members of the Sockeye House. Our Clans occupied and utilized all of the traditional lands in the Tenakee/Hoonah/Angoon area until we were forced to move to Hoonah to enable the children to attend the Hoonah Territorial School. My parents had a place to live and a beautiful garden that provided our family with fresh vegetables for the dinner table. We had access to all species of fish in the waters of Tenakee Inlet and nearby.
I oppose S. 872, as it is written. Our true Lingit people want culture and language. We oppose corporations. They are profit-making corporations and have nothing to do with traditional cultural values. The future of our traditional culture depends on safeguarding the integrity of the indigenous habitat that remain in this Senate Bill as it is written, will convey indigenous habitat to a short-term, profit-driven corporation, the antithesis of traditional culture.
Some people say that they represent Tenakee and that’s a fallacy. They were not born there and did not live there as children. They were not occupants of our traditional lands. I am a blood descendant and was placed in leadership properly by our forefathers.
Tenakee is the last Tlingit village in Southeast Alaska that is not corrupted by corporations. Please help us keep it that way! Don’t let the corporation steal our Lingit land!
The Federal Government with Governor Brady, allowed the Tsimpshians to have their cultural village on Lingit land. Please consider filling the balance by doing the same for the Lingit blood descendants to have Tenakee as a Lingit cultural village to keep our culture, language, songs and dance alive for our Children and grandchildren.
We have less than eight fluent Lingit speakers in the northern saltwater area. Don’t let our language die. This also was a vision of the late William Paul, Lingit Attorney from the village of Wrangell, Alaska.
Thank you very much for your time.