« AnteriorContinuar »
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, SUBCOMMITTEE ON TERRITORIAL AND INSULAR AFFAIRS OF THE COMMITTEE ON INTERIOR AND INSULAR AFFAIRS,
Juneau, Alaska. The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 9:35 a. m., in the courtroom, Federal Building, Hon. Leo W. O'Brien (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. O'BRIEN. The hearing will come to order.
I would like, if I may, at this time to present the members of the committee who have been traveling about Alaska rather extensively.
To the extreme left is Congressman Utt of California ; your own Delegate Bartlett, I am sure he does not have to be introduced; Congresswoman Pfost of Idaho; Congressman Sisk of California, who joined us quite recently; our engineering consultant, Sid McFarland; and our acting counsel and consultant, Dr. Taylor.
I know we have a great many witnesses to hear, and we have tried in this committee to permit most of the talking to be addressed in our direction, but I would hope the committee and the people here would bear with me this morning if I make a brief statement.
I have been with this committee for about 2 weeks now. I am leaving tomorrow to return home, and I want to take this opportunity to say as publicly as I can that I have never worked with a finer group in my life.
Before coming to Congress I spent 30 years in the newspaper business. I was one of those who was inclined to sharpen my funny bone at times at the expense of people in public life, and 'I frequently joyously and maliciously used the word "junket" whenever a public official traveled beyond the confines of his own community.
After these 2 weeks, I have a little different interpretation of the word "junket.” As far as I am concerned it is something from which I will spend several weeks at home resting.
I am sure all of us came to Alaska hoping to have a little fun in addition to hard work. I have not seen a bear or a moose, a caribou. have been trying for 2 weeks to get a haircut. We have already had 50 hours of public hearings, to say nothing of the countless hours of private hearings.
When this particular expedition is concluded we will have had hearings in Alaska of approximately 80 hours, which is about what we would have in 10 months in Washington on all legislation before this subcommittee, including the legislation affecting Alaska, the Virgin Islands, Hawaii, and many other parts of the globe.
I am very proud of this group. Since we have been in Alaska I have never been conscious at one time, a single time, that this committee is composed of both Republicans and Democrats. There has been no partisanship in the approach to the problems of the Territory of Alaska. As far as I am concerned—and I come perhaps the farthest distance, Albany, N. Y.-I have learned more in 2 weeks than I did in 4 years in a remote committee room in Washington peering at maps.
We have talked to people here, we have come to understand their problems; and I think in a small way we have contributed something to the people, too, because we have demonstrated that we are interested in their problems.
I do not think any of us will forget the reaction, the attitude of the group at Point Barrow when we arrived there, the happiness that we had
come, that Uncle Sam did not regard them as poor relations. I think your greatest problem in Washington lies in the fact that many Members of Congress are indifferent to your problems. That is not true of the Members from the Western States. They are near Alaska. They have a sympathy, they have friends, they have relatives in Alaska. But as you go farther East you do encounter that indifference, and I want to confess this morning that I was one of the indifferent ones. I was appointed to this committee 4 years ago, and I felt that the problems which were mine were largely problems of my own district. I rather resented being assigned to a committee which had charge largely of western affairs. But that indifference has been dissipated in the last 2 weeks. I feel that we will go back to Washington, not perhaps to correct everything which is wrong, because we do not have that power, but to serve as your very articulate spokesmen with regard to those problems, to bring to life, if we can, the people of this great Territory and their problems.
I am very sure that you will be better off, the Government of the United States will be better off, and we will be better off individually and collectively for having spent this time in the Territory.
I hope you will forgive me for taking this time, but it was something I wanted to say before I left. It has been one of the great rich experiences of my life.
Now I would like, if I may, and with the consent of the committee, to turn over the gavel to a man who has done a wonderful job for you in Washington, a man who has transformed many of the indifferent ones into loyal friends of Alaska, your own Bob Bartlett.
Mr. BARTLETT. Mr. Chairman, you have been kind enough throughout the Territory to permit me to substitute for you on occasion, and I appreciate it deeply. It has been my intention, and still is my intention, at Annette on the final day of hearings, a week from Thursday, to make certain references concerning you, when you will be distant, and when possibly you will not be embarrassed by the kindly remarks I intend to make.
But in the meantime and before you leave, I want to say to you and to the members of the committee and to everyone in Alaska that if we could always receive the type of "indifference” that you have given, according to your story, Alaska would have progressed much further than it has.
From the very start of your service in the Congress and particularly since you have been chairman of the Subcommittee on Territorial and Insular Affairs you have given us friendly and intelligent guidance. None of us will ever forget what you have done and are doing for the mental health bill and for the Alaska statehood bill.
And on a personal basis, I want to express my appreciation to you now for having come so far and worked so hard during these hearings in Alaska.
I should also like to introduce Colonel Libby of the United States Air Force. The Air Force has been kind enough to assign a plane to us for our convenience as we have gone around the Territory, and Colonel Libby has been our very helpful escort officer from Fairbanks to Barrow to Juneau, and we are grateful for everything the Air Force, particularly Colonel Libby, has done for us.
(Discussion off the record.)
Mr. BARTLETT. Mayor Cyril Coyne of Skagway. Come forward, Mayor Coyne, and identify yourself for the record.
STATEMENT OF CYRIL A. COYNE, MAYOR, SKAGWAY, ALASKA Mr. COYNE. My name is Cyril A. Coyne. I am mayor of Skagway.
I will only take a few minutes. I would like to refer to this map here.
First, I want to sincerely thank the members of your committee for coming to Alaska. It is a big thing for us. We are 4,000 mileswe have a bad economic situation here, although we get a little bit more money than the average job pays 'stateside-and it is very difficult for us to get back and to give the help to the Delegate, the governor, and to others who have gone back there and who have endeavored to preach the cause of Alaska.
I would first briefly like to make a plea for our road system to be considered sometime and as soon as possible.
We are endeavoring to obtain what we might call a coast route to Alaska, which entails pretty much construction in Canada. I would like to refer the committee's attention to this
here. We have a line of demarcation of southeastern Alaska-Wrangell, Ketchikan, Prince Rupert, east of Prince Rupert the town of Hazelton. It is proposed to build an A route in British Columbia to come up this line. It is proposed that access roads be provided from Ketchikan up to Unuk River, from Wrangell and Petersburg to Stikine, from Juneau up to Tulsequa River and my own community up here, Skagway. It is roughly 90 to 100 miles north of here, 18 miles inside of Skagway on the waterway at Haines where a branch of the Alaska Highway is already constructed. It runs northwest to southeast.
I just want to briefly state this: Economically not only southeast Alaska but northern Canada, Yukon Territory, northwestern British Columbia and western Alaska are very much in need of these roads, which would open up tremendous resources.
The Honorable Joseph McLean will represent the Juneau Chamber of Commerce and give you more information about roads.
However, in Skagway at the present time we have a railway strike on our hands. The only justification for the existence of Skagway is the Canadian-owned railroad generally known as White Pass and Yukon Route, 110 miles long, narrow gage. It runs to White Horse,
the capital of the Yukon Territory and a very important point on the Alaska Highway. If we had a highway 60 miles north to Carcross, Yukon Territory, we would not embarrass our Canadian friends by holding up the freight from Vancouver to White Horse, which is held up by the railway strike.
So much for roads." I hope the committee will find occasion to see the very small boat harbor at Skagway. We are at the head of the inland passage. We have very much need of a small-boat harbor. The legislature appropriated $100,000 to be used for both Skagway and Haines, our neighbor 18 miles away.
We depend pretty much on water transportation for our living. We do not have so much fishing in Skagway as we do at Haines.
The reason I am tying in the two towns is we are neighboring towns. We have no small-boat harbors. The tide from high to low is 26 feet. It is necessary in the wintertime to take the fishing boats and other boats that can withstand fairly heavy seas up on the beach.
Last winter we had a disastrous plane crash that resulted in the loss of lives. The weather was not too good. This happened at Haines, Alaska. It was necessary to rush a doctor and a nurse down on a 16-foot outboard craft that fortunately was just unloaded off the Alaska steamship vessel there. It was a very treacherous trip down and was a dangerous one for the people in the boat. These projects are of military importance, and the development of resources, and last but not least, will be a great aid to tourists who come up the coast from Puget Sound and other areas in small craft.
I might say the Alaska Public Works, through the Interior Department, is now processing administratively a matching fund of $100,000 for both Skagway and Haines for a small boat harbor.
Along the same thought, about 10 years ago dredging of a smallboat harbor in Skagway was authorized by the Corps of Engineers, and we hope at this time it will move together with the Alaska Public Works recommendation, which we believe will be the recommendation to the next session of Congress.
In addition to dredging a small-boat harbor which was approved in 1945, as the result of dredging the face of a public
dock, the only one in Skagway, in 1946 a dike on the east side of the Skagway River for about three-quarters of a mile from the mouth was also approved. The point is that Skagway River once in while can meander, go on a rampage, and is likely not only to knock out the railroad but the shops on the east side of the river.
I believe we have many common problems in Alaska to our neighboring country of Canada, and I think in order to resolve hydro, roads, and other things, that possibly some kind of international commission would be in order. I believe Senator Magnuson is having a committee come up in a few weeks and he has something along the same line. It may be he has the answer in his committee.
The last thing I want to talk about is the biggest problem in Alaska, the high cost of living. For some time the Skagway Central Labor Council of which I was formerly president--and currently I am chairman of an income-tax-exemption committee-we asked and sought interest in behalf of a 20-percent Federal income-tax exemption. The purpose of this was to try to alleviate some of the suffering in Alaska. Many of us have what you might say is greater income than we would