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Testimony

Submitted to the
Alaska Natives Commission
in connection with a hearing at

Nome, Alaska
September 21, 1992

ALASKA NATIVES COMMISSION
JOINT FEDERAL-STATE COMMISSION
ON
POLICIES AND PROGRAMS AFFECTING ALASKA NATIVES
4000 Old Seward Highway, Suite 100
Anchorage, Alaska 99503

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Witness List | Exhibit List | PDF Version

ALASKA NATIVES COMMISSION
HEARING
Nome, ALASKA
SEPTEMBER 21, 1992

Deposition Exhibit #3 - Testimony of Gary Longley, Sr.

September 21, 1992

Mike Irwin, Executive Director
Alaska Natives Commission
4000 Old Seward Highway
Suite 100
Anchorage, Alaska 99503

Dear Mike :

I would like to take this opportunity to testify before the Alaska Natives Commission on Federal and State programs and policies affecting Alaska Natives.

I know that you know my background, but just to help the Commission understand where I am coming from, I would like to state that I have over thirty years experience working for the BIA as the Nome Agency Superintendent, the State of Alaska as a Local Government Specialist, Alaska Area Native Health Service as the Chief of the Office of Native Affairs, at Kawerak Inc. as President and a long time Board member, and as Executive Director of Bering Straits Native Corporation in addition to working at several other lessor positions elsewhere. This experience makes me qualified to speak on Native matters with some accuracy and knowledge.

Three of the top priorities as far as Alaska Natives are concerned have to be as follows:

1. SUBSISTENCE -This will probably show up statewide as the top priority. An understanding needs to be reached which is acceptable to the Native population, the State of Alaska, and the Federal government. I believe that the main group which can facilitate this "agreement" as far as the Federal government is concerned is the Alaska Natives Commission. The State and the Native population is at an impasse and perhaps your group can get this issue moved off of dead center.

2. HOUSING -Safe, sanitary and adequate housing to me is the second priority and will also rate very high on a statewide basis.

I would like to recommend that you secure a copy of two studies that were recently published. The first one is BUILDING THE FUTURE: A BLUEPRINT FOR CHANGE which was issued in 1992 and is the final report of the National Commission on American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian Housing. The second publication which I am sure that you are fully aware of, is the 1988 Rural Housing Needs Assessment Study issued by the Department of Community and Regional Affairs, State of Alaska. We really don't care who does the building of the houses as long as they are safe, sanitary and of adequate size to accommodate the rising Native population. I personally believe that BIA and the Regional Housing Authorities both should be involved due to the fact that Natives are in different financial statuses, BIA does not charge for their houses. The Regional Housing Authorities do. Not all mutual help homeowners can afford the payments, so there is a definite need to consider low income rental projects, which I have not seen yet in Rural Alaska.

Perhaps another method of paying for the homes would be "sweat equity" which also has not been practiced in Alaska to date. My understanding of this procedure is that a person could get credit for as much as $30,000 or roughly 30% of the cost of a decent home in Alaska by working on their own home as basically a down payment and then pay the balance off over a period of time.

3. EMPLOYMENT -This is a very general area and several other needs are an integral part including securing the education and/or vocational training to be in a position to qualify for higher paying jobs. Presuming the above houses are stick built, carpenter, plumbing and electrical training plus LABOR would fit in quite nicely.

Obviously the previously listed needs are not all inclusive. I would venture to state that health (including alcohol abuse) would also rate quite high. Another high priority item would be Federal and State recognition of Tribal Sovereignty. I realize that this process is fairly well understood on the Federal level but we need help in getting the State people to recognize this status. Perhaps the way to at least get this studied on the State level is to establish a commission on a process for recognizing various levels of local government so that perhaps a "new" type of entity could become eligible for State Revenue Sharing (for instance) without quite so many strings attached. Several months ago, I was asked to submit my name and a brief resume to the State DCRA to be considered for a Commission of this type but there apparently was no follow-up.

There are many other priorities that Native people will have statewide but I believe that the ones that I have mentioned will make the top ten list.

Hopefully your Commission will help to bring about some of the changes needed in a timely manner. I am sure that you are well aware of the strong movement that is taking place in Northern Alaska on the possibility of breaking off and forming a new State. This is not a new idea, Fred Hotti brought this up at an AFN Board meeting back in 1971 or 72 and several people laughed at him. Little did we know!!!!

Thank you for the opportunity to testify before the Alaska Natives Commission. We look forward to seeing the results of this study and recommended specific actions that will be presented to Congress.

Respectfully yours,

GARY LONGLEY, SR., retired
P.O. Box 1051
Nome, Alaska 93762

Telephone: (907) 443-5715


 

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