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History and Culture

Home  >  History and Culture  >  Ancsa at 30  >  Lecture Series
Lecture Series, Number Two
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Moderator: Tom Richards

Panelists: John Borbridge, Esther Wunnicke, John Havelock, Emil Notti

Dr. Jeanne Eder: I asked John Borbridge a question this morning. I said, "Was there a name for this land before the Russians and the Europeans arrived?" He said, "Yes." I said, "What was it?" He said, "We called it ours."

Dr. Jeanne Eder
Welcome to the second seminar commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. This seminar is titled ANCSA Revisited: A Fair and Just Settlement. This seminar is dedicated to Emil Notti and Margaret Nick Cook. We're looking at legislative and political efforts and we would like to thank our contributors from Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, Koniag and the Henry M. Jackson Foundation.

I am Jeanne Eder, director of Alaska Native Studies at UAA. I am a Dakota Sioux. My name is Oya-win. It means tracked woman. I was born and raised on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Poplar, Montana. They say to you, in my language, How Koda. That means, "Hello friends, thank you for coming." I have a lot of people to thank for this particular event: a committee who worked very closely with me to plan this; our faculty at the University of Alaska Anchorage, including Irene Rowan, adjunct faculty, Professor Edgar Blatchford, professor of Journalism and Alaska Native Studies; Tom Richards, our moderator and friend who we hope to encourage to finish his book; my administrative assistant, Penny Golden; University Advancement's Barbara Britch, Susan Ruddy, John Dede, and Barbara Whitehurst; and the Chancellor's Office of University of Alaska Anchorage.

I have a Bachelor's Degree in American History. I have a Master's degree in American History, and I have a Ph.D. in American History and Public History from Washington State University. I guess you could say I am a historian, and as a historian I have always been interested in the oral traditions of Native people -- all sides of the issues. When I came here I was very anxious to know something and learn something about the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.

As a member of a lower 48-tribe, I did not know very much. The committee I worked with has helped me put this together. We started off with ideas about the kinds of sessions we wanted to have. Like I said, this session is about legislative and political efforts, and we include in that individuals who perhaps may have differing views on the approach to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. For me, as a historian, that is important. We are videotaping each of these speakers because we want to keep that historical voice. We are documenting this for future generations. It has been 30 years since the act was passed and we are so lucky to have with us some of those individuals who are still here to tell their stories. That is why we put this seminar together and I hope you will enjoy it. At that, I would like to introduce you to Tom Richards.

Tom Richards: Thank you, Dr. Eder. Dr. Eder gave her Dakota name. I guess I can start by mentioning my Native name. I am Inupiat from Kotzebue. I have two Inupiat names. I am named after my grandfather so I'm Aviaq but he was also called Sunningyak so I am also Sunningyak I spent a number of years in the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta region working for the Yup'ik folks and I eventually got to have a Yup'ik name also. There's a story behind my Yup'ik name. I have a good friend from the village of Hooper Bay that became my hunting partner. In the spring we would take our canoe and go across the river before the ice would go out. The first time we went hunting I was helping to push the canoe across the ice, which was starting to rot, and I fell through a crack. Luckily I was wearing a float coat that my co-workers had given me. The following season we went up toward the mountains and we were navigating a little stream in my canoe. We hit the sweeper along the river and it knocked me out of the canoe and I went into the water again. Then the following spring I went with my friend to the village of Hooper Bay, we went by snow machine just before the ice went out. We were crossing this little creek that had a kind of an ice bridge over it. My friend Alan Joseph and his brother were real fast. I was lagging a little bit behind. There was a narrow ice bridge and they scooted right across it. Then I followed them but I did it a little bit differently. I'd take a couple steps and test the ice a little bit and take a couple more steps and test the ice and then I got to the middle of the ice bridge and the whole thing gave way and I ended up in the water. We went back to Hooper Bay that evening, and Alan had told his mother the story of what happened and she decided that she would give me a Yup'ik name. My Yup'ik name is Kitchuli, which roughly translates to "someone who is an expert in falling in the water."

We had a good start to the seminar last month, but I have one minor correction to make. Our first seminar lecture was in the auditorium of the Arts Building. I didn't know there were people in the balcony because of the way the lighting was set up and I told a story about my uncle, whose boat was chartered by Colonel Muktuk Marston when he traveled from Norton Sound all the way up to Barrow to organize the Eskimo scouts, the Alaska Territorial Guard. I said that my uncle Louis Rich owned the boat in partnership with Dr. Stu Rabieu who later became head of the Public Health Service. And I had a correction handed to me at the end of the lecture. My mother said it wasn't Verboe it was Dr. Bauer, and so I have to make that correction and thank my critics. I was also asked to make, not necessarily a correction, but a statement regarding an omission we may have made in our last lecture. It was brought to my attention by several folks that we didn't talk about the role of a couple of key folks involved in ANCSA, one of them was Congressman Nick Begich and the other one was Governor Bill Egan. I think people should realize this is a four-part lecture series. We have two other seminars to go so if we don't mention anybody specifically in each of the seminars we hope to cover all the bases throughout. I certainly wouldn't want to omit any mention of Congressman Begich. I had the honor, in the late sixties and early seventies, of being a congressional intern in his office in Washington, D.C. He and his family were very kind to me. Congressman Begich made a very significant contribution to ANCSA. It was pointed out to me by Congressman Burton from San Francisco, California. One of Congressman Nick Begich's colleagues, after the passage of ANCSA, that Nick's contribution to the passage of ANCSA was the most significant accomplishment he had ever seen for a freshman Congressman. I am sure the others will want to make reference to Nick's contributions as well.

Governor Egan was also a very strong supporter of Native rights and of the effort to achieve a settlement of the Land Claims. The governors we have today are afraid to even mention Natives or afraid to even mention tribes, but Governor Egan had no qualms whatsoever about appointing a special assistant for Native Affairs and then using Native in the title. He made quite a contribution, and we sure appreciate what Governor Egan did.

Before I move on to John, I also want to thank Irene Rowan for motivating us to move along with this and also for Jill Smythe for making sure I had an early evening last night. Mr. Borbridge please, if you would, join me.

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IBM Text to Speech

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