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BARROW, ALASKA, September 30, 1955. BARROW NATIVE COUNCIL,
Barrow, Alaska. (Attention Mr. Fred Ipalook, Secretary) This is in reference to your letter of September 27, 1955, requesting for the statements I made before the committee from Washington.
The following are the statements I made as shown in the minutes of the meeting as kept by your acting secretary:
Our schoolrooms are overcrowded. Nine teachers are doing the work, or carrying the loads of 12 teachers. We have converted an old warehouse into a classroom. Better housing is needed for teachers. Living quarters for teachers are inadequate.
Hoping that the above in letter form will be of help to you in your community problems, I am Very truly yours,
STERLING G. CROELL, District Principal, Alaska Native Service.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 1955
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, SUBCOMMITTEE ON
TERRITORIAL AND INSULAR AFFAIRS OF THE
Nome, Alaska. The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 9 a. m., in the courtroom, Federal Building, Nome, Alaska, Hon. Leo W. O'Brien (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. O'Brien. The hearing will please come to order.
I would like to say at the outset that I recognize a number of the people here this morning that we met last night. While the hearing this morning will be a little more formal in its nature than our very pleasant gathering last night, we would appreciate the informal approach. We are here to find out what your problems are and do our best when we get back to Washington to get help from our colleagues in solving them.
Another point I would like to make. We are anxious to complete the hearings at noon exactly because we have a flying schedule we would like to meet. So we will try to govern ourselves accordingly in the presentation.
I think most of you know who the members of the subcommittee are. Starting at my left, Mr. Utt of California ; Mr. Dawson of Utah; I am O'Brien of New York; our counsel, George Abbott; Congresswoman Green of Oregon. Of course, introduction of the distinguished Delegate from Alaska, Bob Bartlett, is unnecessary.
Having taken care of the amenities, we will now proceed to the first witness.
Mr. ABBOTT. I believe Mayor Andersen, for a brief statement.
STATEMENT OF HON. STEFFEN ANDERSEN, MAYOR, CITY OF
Mr. Andersen. I have nothing to say at this time other than that I appreciate these people coming to this hearing: It is for your benefit
, and I assure you these men are very much interested in your problems. So feel free to say all you wish, because they are very interested in what we have to say.
Mr. ABBOTT. Thank you, Mayor Andersen. Mr. Chairman, we have been handed a list of several witnesses with specified subjects. My suggestion would be that we take those witnesses as we have them sisted; that during the break we will take the names of other people who wish to appear, if they will consult with myself or Mr. McFarland, our committee engineer, or Dr. Taylor, our consultant for the Subcommittee on Territories.
It is our hope that schoolchildren who have come up today may search among themselves to find one or two spokesmen.
(Discussion off the record.)
STATEMENT OF JOHN A. MONEES, NOME, ALASKA
Mr. McNEES. Mr. O'Brien and distinguished members of the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs and Territorial Possessions, Delegate Bartlett, and other members, I was assigned the question of statehood, and I have entitled my paper just that: "The Question of Statehood for Alaska."
I might say before I begin I will have copies of this statement for each of you, as well as a longer detailed and more factual report of how I feel about statehood that you will be able to take with you on your departure.
I have entitled my few remarks that the limitation of time does permit "The Question of Statehood for Alaska,” for the reason that the subject raises numerous questions in anyone's mind who has given any consideration to the subject at all.
First, how can anyone hold opinion on the subject?
Secondly, I can respect the man who does not feel that Alaska is ready for statehood or who holds with an alternative plan that he thinks may have merits that statehood does not answer. I am all ready to listen to those arguments and firmly feel that it is a subject that must be argued and discussed fully and freely, with as little prejudice as possible and with selfish motives and interests set aside.
To state my own position quickly and positively, and fortunately it is an opinion that the people of Alaska in a majority approved a few years ago when it was voted upon in referendum, to wit: Alaska and Alaskans are ready for statehood, need statehood, deserve statehood, and have every right that God gave freeborn man to expect that a just and liberal statehood bill be drafted and approved at the earliest possible date in the next session of Congress.
In the last 36 hours I have formed an opinion or two relative of these individuals who compose the Subcommittee on Territories and Insular Possessions. One of these opinions is that Mrs. Green and her fellow congressional companions must be the cream of the congressional crop-so many of them, in fact, I think without exception, are heartily in favor of statehood for Alaska, and that now. Furthermore, I have formed the opinion that when they return to the States from Alaska, which means “the great land,” they will be more convinced than ever that Alaska is ready for and needs statehood and that the United States needs statehood for Alaska.
When statehood comes to Alaska--and note I do not say "if”-and only then will Alaska be able to take its proper place in the scheme of things internally, nationally, and in the worldwide scheme of things, As it stands, we do not truly govern ourselves internally, being limited by the enabling act, which gives only very limited power to govern ourselves. We have a very fine Delegate to Congress in Bob Bartlett, who accomplishes more in a year in Washington than we have any right to expect of him, knowing that he is there without the bargaining power of a vote equal to that these individuals hold in Congress.
We are governed by a man appointed from Washington, rather than having the prerogative of choosing a man for our Governor who is first and foremost an Alaskan and not a bureaucrat.
We are taxed as heavily, if not more so, than the citizens in the States, and that is without the right of enfranchisement, which means, according to Webster, “to set free; or to liberate from slavery.” Our Nation came into being as a revolt against this very sort of thing, and it is just as true today as it was then-"Taxation without representation is tyranny.
Mr. Abbott reminded us last night that his State, the great State of Nebraska, took many years to achieve statehood and cautioned us not to be impatient. May I remind Mr. Abbott that we have passed the half-century mark and are well on the way to the century mark as a Territory and possession. Who dares to say we are not ready for statehood? Certainly not the man who knows the termendous undeveloped resources of this great land, and that if given back possession of it by the Federal Government Alaska can well carry its own weight in the economic and governmental scheme of things internally, as well as nationally and internationally. Our fisheries, timber resources, mining, waterpower, transportation, communication facilities, to mention only a few, are certainly capable not only of supporting Alaska for Alaskans but of supporting our great Nation in the tremendous task it has before it of being the guiding light for free peoples over the entire world.
I was an interested listener last night to the remarks of the honorable chairman, Mr. O'Brien of New York, relative to an omnibus bill. I am certain in my own mind that he did not offer this as an alternative to statehood but only as a means of expediting a greater degree of self-government and control than we now have.
I am just as certain in my own mind that we would be foolish to accept anything short of a generous, fair, and just statehood bill that would admit Alaska to its proper place in the national scheme of things at the earliest possible date.
I would like to extend, however, to Mr. O'Brien and the other August members of his committee my proxy vote to do everything possible to expedite any measure whatsoever that will give us our God-granted right to live as freemen. I am 38 years of age as an Alaskan and have never been permitted to vote for the President of the United States, to elect a Governor for the area in which I live and am raising my family, or to send a Delegate to Congress that, when he
gets there, has a vote in the Halls of Congress to which we elect him. Bob Bartlett is truly a representative of the people of Alaska, but may I remind you again, without a vote. What kind of an example is that, I ask you, to our neighbor across the water to the west who is doing its utmost to enslave the world?
The argument that we are a noncontiguous area and therefore have no right to statehood has only one supporting argument in favor of it, and that is it would be the first time such a thing has been done.
We belong, we are Alaskans, we would like to become United States citizens in every meaning of the word. We are capable of supporting ourselves due to our tremendous wealth of natural resources, as well as making our contribution to the national and international scheme of things. Is that not enough? Do not judge us except as you yourselves would like to be judged.
On November 8 of this year a delegation of 55 Alaskans will convene in Fairbanks at the University of Alaska campus to draft a constitution for Alaska. I am fortunate in being one of the elected dele
. gates to that convention. It is my hope to see a brief and easily as well as liberally interpreted constitution result from that convention, a constitution that will stand the test of time even as our own Federal Constitution has.
We have many fine State constitutions to govern our study. It may or may not be the last State constitution written in our federation of States. My hope is that it will be a model one, or as nearly so as possible. Certainly we will do the very best that we know how.
Our prayer is that when that constitution is presented to Congress you Members of Congress and your fellow Congressmen will give it the same study and consideration that we have.
In conclusion, let me say that the destiny of the United States and Alaska, as well as our fellow Territory that is making the bid for statehood along with us, is irrevocably cast together, and that the United States will never reach its full flower as a Nation or in the international eye until such a time as both Alaska and Hawaii are admitted to the Union on an equal footing with the rest of the States.
I thank you.
Mr. O'Brien. May I compliment you on your very fine statement, Mr. McNees. I compliment the people who selected you as a delegate to the constitutional convention.
Mr. BARTLETT. Mr. Chairman, could I merely add to that by saying that I believe Mr. McNees made a most eloquent, forceful, and logical statement, and I, too, feel that the membership of the constitutional convention at Fairbanks in November will be elevated by his presence.
Mr. O'BRIEN. I might say one more thing. Mr. McNees referred to some remarks that I made last night. I did not intend in any way that the proposed omnibus bill be a substitute for a statehood bill, but merely what I would regard as a very powerful pilot engine leading toward statehood.
Mr. ABBOTT. Mr. Ralph Lomen is the next witness.
STATEMENT OF RALPH LOMEN, PRESIDENT, LOMEN COMMERCIAL
CO., NOME, ALASKA
Mr. LOMEN. Just for the record and for the man who took my records some months ago in Washington, my name is Ralph Lomen. I am president of the Lomen Commercial Co.
In looking around the room, I believe that there is no one in the room present today who was here when I first arrived in Nome. I merely make that statement to qualify my opinion on the matters pertaining to Alaska.
I have been requested to set forth some of the arguments in favor of commonwealth rather than statehood.
I sit before my fellow citizens, and I know that if there was a vote taken today, I would, as I have been frequently, be in the minority.
I have tried to eliminate any sentiment in arriving at my conclusions as to the best autonomy for Alaska.
I am not convinced that Alaska in toto should become a State now or ever.