Slowly, but surely, Alaska Native Vietnam-era veterans are able to apply for and receive public land.

The first federal land allotments have been finalized by the state Department of the Interior.

To date, the department has contacted more than 1,400 Native Alaska veterans. Almost 130 have applied and have until Dec. 29, 2025 to work with the Interior Department to acquire land ownership.

This is a result of the Dingall Act, a lands package that became law in 2019 at the behest of Alaska’s congressional delegation.

The Alaska Native Vietnam-era Veterans Land Allotment Program has roots back to 1906, when Congress passed a law allowing Alaska Natives to acquire 160-acre parcels of land.

The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in 1971 eliminated that prior law. However, during the ‘70s, Alaska Natives who were serving in the Vietnam War didn’t get a chance to apply for their allotment.

The Alaska Natives Veterans Act of 1998 partially fixed the issue, but not completely.

Then, as recently as last June, Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan introduced a bill to amend the Vietnam-era Veterans Land Allotment Program, adding 3.7 million acres of land in the National Wildlife Refuge System to the potential land for acquisition, in keeping with the idea that Natives would obtain land near where they live.

But the first allotments are coming and it looks like only the beginning, for Native Alaska Vietnam-era veterans and Alaska.