Contrary to what is best for Alaskans, the Biden administration has issued a Public Land Order.
Order 7899 delays an opportunity for Alaska Native Vietnam War veterans to select a plot of federal land in Alaska. While serving in Vietnam, the Native service members missed the application period for land allocations.
The federal law pertaining to the allocations for Natives who could prove occupancy of the land for five years ended with the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in 1971.
The Vietnam War occurred over a 20-year period, ultimately ending in 1975 despite an earlier attempt in 1973.
The Native Vietnam veterans received the opportunity to apply again under the Alaska Native Vietnam Veterans Allotment Act in 1998. The act made 160 acres of land available to the Native vets and eliminated the occupancy requirement.
Implementation never occurred. Then in 2019, President Trump signed a bill extending eligibility to not only Native veterans but the heirs of those who have since passed, allowing the applicants to apply for vacant, unappropriated or unreserved non-mineral property.
The selection period was supposed to start in February, but it has since been delayed by the feds for two years.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy, recognizing that Vietnam veterans are not getting younger, has proposed that Alaska honor the Native veterans by providing the land proposed, but not delivered, by the federal government.
“For decades the Alaska Native Vietnam Veterans’ land allotment was left unresolved. At long last, the federal government did the right thing in 2019 by giving Alaska Native Vietnam veterans who were fighting for their country during the original application period a second chance to apply for a land allotment. Unfortunately, at the same time, the federal government limited these vets to selecting allotments from small areas hundreds of miles from their homes. When the federal government does not stand up for our vets, I will,” says Dunleavy.
“This amendment serves as a solution to give our valued vets the chance to finally receive their promised allotment and exchange it for land near their home region,” he says.
Sen. Dan Sullivan applauds the governor's creative idea in response to Department of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland delaying the land allotments at the behest of extreme environmentalists.
It's up to the governor to do what is best for Alaskans. Honoring an agreement with Native Alaska Vietnam veterans is that.