Statement on Signing the Haida Land Exchange Act of 1986


November 17, 1986


I 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.


I 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.


Note: H.R. 5730, approved November 17, was assigned Public Law No. 99 - 664.