28 OCTOBER 1976
Speech Before the Bartlett Democratic Club
Yesterday, when I was weathered in Barrow and couldn’t make it to Anchorage in time to appear before the Press Club with Don Young, I worked with my campaign people and with Robert Goldberg to draft a speech that was read for me by John Alexander. It was a hurried effort, and an entire page of my speech was left out when it was prepared for delivery and distribution to the press. I thought that I would supply you with a copy of the missing text which was not read.
HR 4345 has an interesting story, one that details Don Young’s approach to his job of representing our interests in the U.S. House of Representatives. He has a bad habit of working for the triumph of private interest over the public interest of Alaska, and of all Alaskans. He is not Congressman for All Alaskans. He is not using his office to secure the public good in Alaska. He is using his office to secure private interest in profiting from the wealth of our public land. HR 4345 provides us with an example of how he operates.
In 1953, the Catholic Church received a restricted-use patent to 460 acres of prime, gravel-rich land at the confluence of the Tazlina and Copper Rivers. This land is some of the choicest land in all of central Alaska. The Church’s patent specified that the land would belong to the Church as long as the Church used the land for a mission school — otherwise it would revert back to Federal ownership. The Church paid $1,330 for this land, three dollars per acres. The famous Copper Center High School was operated on this land until it was closed in 1968.
In 1974, the old mission school land was selected by the Tazlina Village Corporation and the Ahtna Corporation, believing that it reverted back to public ownership with the closing of the school. However, earlier in 1974, the Catholic Church in Anchorage sold this land to a limited partnership known as One-Eleven & Associates for one million dollars, far less than this land was worth in 1974, but it was purchased with the knowledge that the use restriction in the original patent placed a cloud on the Church’s right to sell this land.
Two months after the purchase, Congressman Young and Senator Stevens both introduced private member bills that amended the original 1953 patent on this land to eliminate the use restriction, thus clearing the Church’s right to sell the land after the fact, and clearing One-Eleven’s title to the 460 acres of prime public land. It is beautiful land, about two miles off the road, with a good road onto the land, land worth many millions of dollars.
This land in question is clearly public land available for selection by either the State of Alaska or the Tazlina Village Corporation. Clearly both have a legitimate interest in this land because of the terms of the use-restriction in the original patent that specified reversion of title back to the Federal government when it was no longer to be used for a mission school.
However, neither the State of the Tazlina Village people were notified by Congressman Young of his submission of HR 4345 in 1974, and this legislation failed to move until this year when the old Copper Center High School burned to the ground. Then Congressman Young pushed for action on this bill, and my friend Congressman Melchor, Chairman of the Committee on Public Lands, a sub-committee of the House Interior Committee, on which Congressman Young sits, held hearings on HR 4345. Neither the State of the Tazlina Village people were notified of these hearings, or were they invited to testify about their interests and claim on this land. HR 4345 subsequently passed the House of Representatives and was sent over to the Senate for action.
In September of this year, the Ahtna Corporation discovered the facts and purpose of HR 4345, and the Tazlina people appealed to our entire Congressional delegation for help to stop Senate approval. They were ignored. Finally, the Tazlina people were able to get Senator Bumpers of Arkansas to object to the Senate’s unanimous consent to enacting HR 4345, and Congressman Young’s private-member bill was killed.
Private-member bills are meant to be non-controversial in nature, and the rules are waived to pass such legislation by unanimous consent, usually at the end of Congressional sessions as quietly as possible. Senator Bumper’s single objection was sufficient to kill the bill, and today these 460 prime acres purchased by the One-Eleven real estate investment partnership are still owned by the public.
I regard this entire incident to reflect accurately the way Don Young does business in Congress. You know, the vast amount of public land in Alaska places a great burden of responsibility upon Alaska’s congressman to behave very discretely with all matters relating to the ownership of public land. It was very indiscrete of Congressman Young to use his private-member legislative privilege to try to slide past this land title problem without submitting it through proper channels of due process.
If One-Eleven & Associates has a worthy claim to the Copper Center High School campus, they should have been required to defend their claim before the Land Claims Appeals Board, or in court.
The problem of reversion of title to restricted-purpose lands is going to be a big legal problem in Alaska as land selections are made under the terms of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act proceed. Congress has provided for due process in reconciling conflicting claims to such land, and these processes do not include sneaking private member bills past Congress to amend old patents for private real estate investment corporations to make unearned profits from prime public gravel-rich land.
People often ask me why I have taken the trouble I have taken to run against Don Young. This incident illustrates the reason I have done so. don Young supports the private interests of those willing to pay him to oppose the public interest. The AMA has paid him for opposing badly needed health and medical care reforms. I wonder who One-Eleven & Associates are, and if they have contributed to Mr. Young’s reelection campaign as generously as did the AMA and other industrial contributors that he has disclosed.
This incident, which was disclosed to me recently, provides me with a nice example of why I decided to try to replace Young as our Congressman. He is not acting as Congressman for All Alaskans. Rather, he is acting as Congressman for the special private interests whose aim it is to get rich by exploiting the wealth on our public land.
During my campaign, I have stressed the need for well-defined Arctic policies that would enable our Federal government to provide special treatment to Alaskan, and to Alaskans. We should not be treated on an equal basis with other States. We should get the special treatment that America’s Arctic deserves. The Canadian Arctic receives special treatment from the Canadian government. This is true also for the Siberian Arctic. But the United States has no special Arctic policies, and we need these policies if our government is to be able to deal fairly and effectively with Arctic resource development.
We need Federal transportation subsidies to help lower our cost of living. We need compensating pay and tax relief differentials for our American Arctic dwellers, the citizens of Alaska. We need special Arctic investment tax breaks and financing programs.
We need to extend the benefits I enjoy as a Native American to all Alaskans, particularly in the field of health care.
We need to overhaul the entire Outer-continental Shelf program to enable and even require the Department of Interior to develop Alaska’s offshore oil and gas reserves in close cooperation with the State of Alaska, and our coastal communities and municipalities.
Lastly, we must remember that today’s market is not the best market in which to dump Alaska’s wealth in natural resources. both the need and the market for our wealth will rise in the future, and Alaska needs strong Congressional representation to enable us to resist outside manipulation that would force us to sell our wealth at low prices to those who would get rich by reselling it when the price goes up.
I am talking about the wealth that can sustain our children and grandchildren in future years. We must strive to conserve and let loose our patrimony as slowly as we can. Our wealth is the wealth of our nation, and we Alaskans are the trustees of this wealth. We must use our political strength to enable us to yield up this wealth gracefully, and with care for our environment and the eternal values of our Arctic land.
During my campaign, I have been sustained by the prayers and good wishes of Alaskans all over the State. The Democratic party has been good to our campaign, and has contributed to my campaign, both in money and effort, in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. I am proud that I was my party’s choice in carry our banner in the Congressional race this year. Thank you very much.
Note: This is the text that was accidentally left out of Eben Hopson’s Press Club speech yesterday, 12 OCTOBER 1976:
I do not feel that Don Young is against good and affordable health care for all Americans. It is just that Don Young approaches his job of Alaska’s single Congressman with the mind of a clerk. He will accommodate anybody who comes to him for help, but it is only the rich and powerful economic interests who get his attention. He is not a leader, but rather he is led by others into voting against the public interest. He has no ideological bearing to guide his way. He responds to those, like the AMA, who pay most for his vote, and can afford to flatter him by not opposing his narrow view of what is good for Alaska.
There are other areas and issues that support my contention. For example, when was the last time that Young’s private member legislative calendar was given the scrutiny it deserves. How about HR 4345 that my opponent rammed through the House of Representatives last month without notifying affected Native groups, or the State of Alaska. HR 43435 would eliminate State and Native land selection rights to the old Copper Center School, prime Alaskan acres, so that a group of real estate investors would make some money.
This is the kind of thing that I mean. He’ll help any most responsive to those who stand to make money off of his help. They spend the money to get his ear and his help. The rest of us, unable to lobby as effectively as special interests can afford to do, suffer from his Congressional neglect and sloth. As a result, Young was able to raise $90,000 to run in the uncontested primary election, and will spend over $125,000 before this election is over.