Open Letter To Honorable Sally Jewell, Secretary Of Interior On Occasion Of Her Visit To Alaska

Governor Wally Hickel, Alaska, Broken Promises, Federal Overreach, Alaska Constitution, Photo by Dave HarbourDan Fagan, Alaska Under Siege, federal overreach documentary, Photo by Dave HarbourUseful video references: 1) "Broken Promises" by Former Interior Secretary Walter J. Hickel (NGP Photo-L) and, 2) "Alaska Under Siege" by Dan Fagan (NGP Photo)


Dave Harbour

​We keep hoping that the current Administration's agency appointees will place loyalty to the one appointing them secondary to the public interest and fidelity to the Constitution.

Alaska North Slope Borough Mayor Charlotte Brower, Secretary Sally Jewell, Alaska Federation of Natives, ANWR, NPR-A, Photo by Dave HarbourSecretary Jewell:  We especially commend for your reading the wise counsel Alaska North Slope Borough Mayor Charlotte Brower has offered to you and the Administration.  Here is her February 10, 2015 Op-Ed piece in the Alaska Dispatch News.  Here is a speech she gave during your Alaska tour — just yesterday — to the Alaska Federation of Natives that directly addresses you and your administration.  -dh

So far, we've been disappointed.  Agencies have operated in lockstep with the Obama Administration's political agenda rather than what they should know to be the honest, logical, right thing to do on behalf of the national interest.  (We would hope that DOI could learn to honestly respond to the public interest without having to be continually chastened by our representatives in the Congress.)

In these pages, we have carefully documented flagrant examples of federal overreach, violations of the rule of law and due process.  We have illustrated the Administration's application of 'death by a thousand cuts'.  We have analyzed the cumulative effect of the debilitating volume and number of federal regulations and anti-development rulings.  We have shown how an insidious cabal has worked together against the public interest and witnessed political coordination between your Department and special interest parties.

Many if not most of these anti-public interest violations have occurred within the agencies and offices of the Department of Interior, but the pattern runs rampant in most if not all of the Departments and even 'independent agencies'.

Above, we have linked you to examples.  Please go to the Pacific Legal Foundation's webpage to learn of other federal abuses of power.  Free enterprises throughout America are suffering from an unrestrained imposition of federal power that decreases private sector productivity and freedoms while increasing proliferation of bureaucratic personnel and rules.

Below is an email we received from a pioneer Alaskan whose fortune and investment was wiped out by your Department.  It is only one of many examples, as we have shown.  Were you to express a little sympathy for Wally McGregor's plight at the hands of your predecessors, it wouldn't compensate him for his financial losses, but it might give him hope that perhaps help is on the way and that, perhaps, he has not also completely lost his faith in Constitutional protections.

Charlotte Brower with Dave HarbourWe commend this and countless other Alaskan case histories and counsel to your consideration, not the least of which is Mayor Charlotte Brower's (Photo with publisher Dave Harbour) Op-ed piece that we covered yesterday.  Please also read her speech, given yesterday, to the Alaska Federation of Natives-Kotzebue Retreat; it is directly related to your Department.

We wish for you to experience a safe and informative trip.

Below is Wally's email to a Northern Gas Pipelines reader and his painstakingly prepared case history of, "The Orange Hill Story".

Respectfully submitted,

Dave Harbour, ​Publisher, Northern Gas Pipelines


Email from Wally McGregor copied to Northern Gas Pipelines:

I have been on the front line of the opposition to the WAR ON PRIVATE PROPERTY  since the passage of ANILCA in 1980 when our Orange Hill property, a “World Class Copper Deposit” was enclosed in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and the right to mine denied thereafter, as were your properties.   

Over the course of the past 35 years, the National Park Service has refused to compensate for the Taking and has gone so far as to terminate a mineral appraisal, after the geologic data was disclosed to the appraiser.   

As you are also aware, fighting for a Constitutional Right is enormously expensive in terms of both time and money, in my case,  to no avail.    To me, the Constitutional Fifth Amendment is nothing more than a piece of paper.  The protection of private property rights is disregarded with impunity by the federal bureaucracy.   

The attached copy of “AN UNAMBIGUOUS TAKING, THE ORANGE HILL STORY describes the ruthlessness  and deviousness of the National Park management in its dealing with inholders on the issue of a private property rights.  

Clearly, the disregard for private property rights is not confined to the National Park Service which imposes an enormous threat to the State of Alaska that is dependent upon its natural resources.   Unless the threat is addressed and forthrightly dealt with there will be no incentive to invest in Alaska.   

To me and my wife during our days of prospecting and exploration in the 60s and 70s, Alaska was ‘The Land Of Tomorrow’    The encroachment of the federal government has dimmed that concept of Alaska’s future.   

Alaska Federation of Natives-Kotzebue Retreat

Remarks of NSB Mayor Charlotte E. Brower

Tuesday, February 17, 2015- 8:30 AM


[Acknowledge people in attendance]. It’s wonderful to be here in beautiful Kotzebue so close to where I was born and raised in Selawik. Quyanaqpak for privilege to speak to you this morning.

​This past week the North Slope Borough was honored to host Kivgiq 2015. Thousands of our friends and neighbors from across Alaska, Canada and elsewhere gathered in Barrow to celebrate the messenger feast. Our theme was “kiikaa atautchikunsavaqatigiiksa- let us keep doing more together.” In many ways, this theme is reflective of the mission of AFN and I think it was especially befitting given the challenges that face Alaska Native people today.

​Over the past month those of you that have been engaged in following the news have witnessed a firestorm of controversy surrounding recent decisions by the Obama Administration and the Department of the Interior relating to wilderness designations in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas leasing areas, and development within the National Petroleum Reserve- Alaska. Those of us on the North Slope have been especially sensitive to these decisions as they have a direct impact on our people, economy and way of life. Accordingly, we have made our feelings known through press releases, opinion editorials, and other means.

But just as troubling to me as the consequences of these federal actions, are the rifts that are created between Alaska Native people who may be on different sides of the issues. We have witnessed many instances in which regions, communities and even families have been divided. And more than just being counter-productive, these divisions pose a direct threat to our people’s wellbeing.

​One of the root causes of these conflicts is the strong influence that outside groups exert on Alaska Native people to further their agendas. As one example, we have witnessed numerous instances where eNGOs have entered our villages and have sought out disaffected community or tribal members who may share their ideologies and then use these same people to file lawsuits that serve their purposes. If that isn’t sufficient, these environmentalists may offer our people free trips to Washington, D.C. or other places where they can be used as props to parrot talking points and be held up to the media or the outside world in general as “Native leaders.” This is often done to undercut the messages of those of us who are actual leaders of our communities or to muddy the waters as to what are the actual thoughts and feelings of the majority of Native peoples on the issues that impact us.

​Sometimes it’s our federal government that is contributing to the problem. We saw a manifestation of this during the EIS process for a proposed development project in the NPR-A, which is located near one of our villages. Despite the fact that the borough, the regional corporation, the village corporation, and the local municipal government all advocated for an alternative that they believed was the most environmentally responsible, the BLM chose its own preferred alternative which they attributed to the consultations they had with the local tribal organization. This created conflict in the impacted community and frustration for all of the entities that felt that their input was being ignored. Ultimately, BLM reversed itself and selected the alternative that the majority of our people supported. But the wounds still remain.

​And there are times when we may contribute to this problem when we do not foster open lines of communication amongst our own organizations or between our neighbors and fellow Alaska Natives throughout the state. So the question may be asked- what can we do to avoid these types of divisions among us? I believe looking to our past can provide the answers for our futures.

​The Inupiat have eked out an existence in some of the most inhospitable places on the Earth since the beginning of time. Our people’s survival rested on mutual cooperation and working together to overcome whatever challenges that Mother Nature could throw our way. As a testament to this legacy, our elders passed down to each generation a set of core values that were essential for our people’s survival- values that are still relevant to us today like respect for others, cooperation, and avoidance of conflict, just to name a few.

​Those of us on the North Slope have recognized that our moments of greatest strength have come during the times when we stand unified as a people. We learned this lesson when we had to fight for our rights to the land that we have lived on since time immemorial during the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act negotiations or when we had to fight the federal government and the environmentalists for the right to conduct our subsistence hunts of the bowhead whale. We also know that given the challenges and obstacles that face us today, it is important for us to continue in this tradition of unity.

​As a result, we held a series of meetings that included the leadership of the municipalities, Native corporations, and tribes, on the local and regional level, to discuss how we can better stand together and speak to important issues with one voice. The decision was made to form a non-profit organization called Voice of the Arctic Inupiat, or what we like to call the Inupiat Non Governmental Organization-iNGO. Our hope is that Voice of the Arctic Inupiat can provide a forum for the leadership of our local and regional tri-lateral groups to get together and discuss the issues that are impacting our communities and to come to consensus on the views that we express to the outside world. This will make it more difficult for the environmentalists, the government, or any other outside groups to divide our people and communities or to misrepresent the will of the Inupiat people on the North Slope.

​On a larger scale, we hope that the Alaska Federation of Natives will work to foster dialogue between regions and Alaska Natives from across the state to make it more difficult for outside groups to cause divisions among us and to continue to promote mutual respect between people and regions so that we do not allow our own self-interests or ideologies to cause harm to others. All of us will be more effective in advocating for our own people if we stand united as one.

​We would also like to challenge our federal government to rethink its concept of consultation- especially considering the unique attributes of Alaska.  Alaska Native people are represented not just by tribal organizations, but also by municipal governments, and Native Corporations. Each one of these entities have unique and important perspectives on what is important for the tribal members, citizens, or shareholders that they represent. And while the legally-mandated government-to-government consultations between our federal government and tribes are important, communication and consultation with our municipal governments and Native Corporations are equally important for federal decision- makers to glean a true perspective of the needs of our people. We have seen far too many instances where the federal government has favored one group over another and this is why so many of us continue to complain about the federal government’s lack of consultation. Meaningful federal consultation must include all three entities and equal consideration must be afforded to each in order to truly understand the needs of the Alaska Native community.

​A potential model for this type of consultation could be based off of the concept of the NPR-A Working Group, which was created by Secretary Salazar in the 2012 NPR-A EIS & IAP. The Working Group is comprised of representatives from municipal governments, tribes, and Native corporations and is supposed to serve as a forum for the BLM and local people to work together on land management issues that involve the NPR-A. While we still haven’t seen support for this group from the federal government materialize like we had hoped, we feel very strongly that this could be a powerful and effective tool to ensure more meaningful local input and better federal decision-making.

​Without this kind of meaningful consultation, the types of federal actions we have seen of late where our potential for economic benefit is being limited will continue to viewed as paternalistic edicts from an aloof government far detached from the realities of our daily existence. And as a consequence, our self-sufficiency and quest for self-determination will be replaced by a complete dependence on the government.

​Our federal government should also know that we notice it when eNGOs issue press releases touting federal actions minutes later, or in the case of the Record of Decision for the GMT-1 SEIS last week, sometimes even hours before the federal government publicly announces its own decisions. This type of collusion between our government and special interest groups does not give us confidence in the federal process and we take it as an insult when greenie groups know more about what the federal government is planning for our lands than we do. Even if we may disagree over an outcome, we deserve the respect of being consulted and informed before we read someone else’s press release.

​But notwithstanding the challenges we face, we stand committed to our theme of “kiikaa atautchikunsavaqatigiiksa- let us keep doing more together”. By remembering the values of our past and by working with each other instead of against each other, we hope to create a legacy that we will be proud to pass down to our children and grandchildren. That is the essence of who we are as Alaska Native people. Quyanaqpak, Taikuu for the opportunity to speak to you!