U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan, and Rep. Don Young, all R-Alaska, today welcomed the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) announcement of proposed rules that will allow more than 1,000 Alaska Native Vietnam War-era veterans to apply for land allotments of up to 160 acres of land. This is a key step to fulfilling an important provision of the Dingell Act, landmark public lands legislation that Congress passed early last year. BLM also announced the specific lands available for selection.
“This is a significant action that will right an historic wrong for the Alaska Native veterans who missed the deadline for land claims because they were serving their country during the Vietnam War,” said Murkowski, who shepherded the legislation as Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “Finally, we can start the process of providing a measure of long overdue equity for the brave individuals who fought for the rest of us. I thank BLM for working with the State of Alaska and Alaska Native Corporations to identify lands that will be available for selection.”
“After decades of effort, I am pleased to see further progress in correcting this inequity to Alaska Native Vietnam Veterans,” said Sullivan. “As I’ve said over the years, Alaska Natives and American Indians serve at higher rates than any other ethnic group in the Nation, what I call a special kind of patriotism. While I know there is still work to do, I encourage all Alaska Native Vietnam Veterans and their heirs to review the proposed rules and comment. I also want to thank the Bureau of Land Management for their expedited efforts to meet the timeline presented by Congress, while also ensuring maximum public participation.”
“Alaska Native Vietnam Veterans put their lives on the line for our nation, and for too long, the federal government fell shamefully short of making good on the promises of land allotments made to them. I am very proud that with the support of tireless Alaska Native advocates, the Alaska Delegation, and the Administration, we have finally rectified this injustice. These proposed rules for land selection are a critical step forward for our heroes. I am grateful to the Bureau of Land Management for working with the Alaska Delegation, ANCs, and countless veterans and their advocates throughout this process, and I look forward to well-earned land finally being allotted to these brave Alaskans,” said Young.The rules announced yesterday are now open for public comment. Further information for Alaska Native veterans or their heirs can be found here. Applicants can use BLM’s online mapping tools to determine which lands they would like to apply for. To ensure all eligible veterans or their surviving heirs apply, BLM and the Bureau of Indian Affairs ask that contact information be updated with BIA Realty Tribal Service Providers and Alaska State Court-appointed personal representatives.