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STATEMENT OF JOSEPH HONG, BOARD OF DIRECTORS, OPERATION
Mr. Hong. Mr. Chairman, my statement is very brief and with your permission I would like to give it on my feet.
My name is Joseph Hong. I am representing the Territorial Junior Chamber of Commerce. I am the national director from Alaska to the national board of directors.
As you probably know, the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce is primarily a local community service organization, built upon the local level. There are some issues which the national organization has felt transcend and go beyond the local problems. One of these issues is statehood for Alaska.
During the past 4 years the national organization, through its some 3,000 chapters, 200,000 members, located in 48 States, Hawaii, Alaska, and the District of Columbia, have nationally endorsed statehood for Alaska.
The national organization has felt that statehood for Alaska is a moral issue, and as a result, although Alaska is not a State, it has granted States rights to the Territorial Junior Chamber of Commerce in this respect: Without the granting of States rights, we would not have the privilege of having a national director sit on the national board.
Secondly, we are also included in each national convention and in the rollcall of States. Alaska comes right after Alabma.
Mr. Abbott mentioned the enthusiasm possibly which visiting Congressmen engender upon their visits to Alaska." I would like to illustrate this by telling the story of a fellow who is a Member of the House of Representatives in Congress at this time, Congressman Orvin Fjare from Montana.
In 1953 Orvin Fjare was one of our 10 national vice presidents. He made a visitation to Alaska, and he told all of the Territorial JC's, at that time he said: "Gentlemen, before I came to Alaska"—this was his first visit—"I voted at the national convention and also on the national executive board in favor of statehood for Alaska because I felt that they were morally entitled to it. Now that I have seen Alaska, I can see why I am all the more in favor of statehood and why, after seeing your great resources up here, that you need statehood to develop it.
I am very happy for the fact that this committee has had that opportunity to visit Alaska. I do not consider this an ordinary junket. I consider this a very informative session of this committee.
I feel, too, that like Congressman Fjare and like the fellow Alaskans here in Alaska, that you believe that we have a moral right to statehood, and now that you have seen Alaska you will be all the more convinced of the fact that we need statehood to achieve that Eskimo definition of Alaska which means "the great land.” With your individual help and cooperation, we Alaskans will help bring about that definition of Alaska as "the great land.”
Mr. PAYNE. The next witness is Hon. Irene Ryan, a member of the legislature. I think she has filed a statement in addition to the one she wishes to give.
STATEMENT OF IRENE E. RYAN, MEMBER OF THE ALASKA
Mrs. RYAN. My name is Irene E. Ryan, 11744 14th. I have been a resident of Alaska for the last 14 years.
I have filed a rather lengthy statement, and I have an extra copy here for you.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Without objection, it will be made a part of the record.
(The statement referred to follows:)
STATEMENT OF IRENE E. RYAN
Mr. Chairman and honorable members of the Interior and Insular Affairs Com. mittee of the United States Congress. My name is Mrs. John E. (Irene) Ryan. I am a member of the Territorial legislature having served in the house during the last session. I am a registered engineer, a housewife, and a mother. We have made Anchorage, Alaska, our home for the past 14 years. I am pleading today for statehood for Alaska.
“Mother, may I go out to swim?
Yes, my darling daughter,
But don't go near the water.” This nonsense verse from childhood days points up the relationship and situation of the people of Alaska under the Federal Government. On the one hand we are urged to develop our country, on the other hand you, the Congress of the United States retain to yourselves the tools with which we can accomplish that development. The previous cycles of interest and immigration from the States to this land have all ebbed, taking away from our storehouse of resources without leaving any development or social improvement in the Territory anywhere comparable to the total wealth that has been poured into the United States economy.
A conservation policy that locks tight the doors is not the answer. Nor is the granting of special privilege and protection to pressure groups. To compound the difficulties encountered in pioneering and building homes and industries where natural conditions of terrain and climate are difficult the Alaskan citizen is frequently faced with either the lack of enabling laws or the necessity to beg for relief from restrictive laws, rules, regulations, and redtape. He finds his life in continual conflict with the plans of visionaries thousands of miles away or with impositions intended to discourage him which have been subtly introduced into Alaskan Legislature by established interests who do not want to lose their sinecure.
By now you are familiar with our prayers for relief and for assistance on a great many individual and specific problems. All too many of them affect the immediate needs of a country that is standing on the threshold of great economic development. More and more people are knocking at the Land Office doors and entering upon our lands. Major producing and industrial concerns are turning their attention to our oil and minerals, our forests, and power resources. In each instance will legislative action come too late? Will the citizen or industry with an honest plan for development be starved out, be forced by economic circumstance to turn back? The answer is not in the hands of Alaska but in yours. The very diverseness and extent of our needs makes the possibility of your giving them all attention remote. Would not granting statehood now be better than piecemeal legislation?
“When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
James Adams in his Mark of Democracy, remarks:
“So long as any portion of our national domain has remained in a Territorial or dependent status, as Alaska, Hawaii, the Phillipines, Porto Rico, and other portions yet do, we have found ourselves forced to govern much as England did in the 18th century. We have declined, as England did, to accord complete self-government, have appointed officials, legislated for and even taxed the inhabitants without their consent, and done many if not most of the things for which we so heavily blamed England.”
And under a chapter on Modern Imperialism in his Outline of History, H. G. Wells writes:
“There has hitherto existed in the States no organization for and no tradition of what one may call nonassimilable possessions. The method of dealing with new territories was based on the idea that there cannot be in the United States system a permanently subject people—Alaska-remained politically undeveloped simply because it has an insufficient population for State organization * * *. It is improbable that either Puerto Rico or the Philippines will become States of the Union. They are more likely to become free states in some comprehensive alliance with both English speaking and Latin America * * *. It is the older and more characteristic English tradition from which the Declaration of Independence derives. It sets aside, without discussion, the detestable idea of 'subject peoples.'
If the American tradition, if the concept of democracy as accepted and understood by America is not twisted and weakened, what are you, the Members of Congress, going to do in the case of Alaska? Equivocation and compromise are an easy route to follow. Such piecemeal legislation will however point the direction of our destiny. Will “subject peoples” cease to be a detestable idea in the United States? Will the Declaration of Independence have the purity of concept twisted to mean “only those lucky people living between the Atlantic and Pacific, between Canada and Mexico? Will Alaskans be rewarded for their contributions to your world with a permanent "colonial status,” remain a “subject people”? What are the alternatives? They are either full participation as a memper State or the establishment of an independent state.
How can statehood now help Alaska?
First of all because it would give us effective participation in the making of those Federal and local laws and policies under which we must live.
Second, it would guarantee for us, under that contract the Constitution of the United States, equality of treatment and consideration with any and all of the member States.
Third, it would establish for us and let us establish a known, successful, accepted and expected system of laws, rules, and regulations for the orderly development of Alaska.
Let me quote briefly.
"The Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises—but all duties, imposts, and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.
“No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any State.
"No preference shall be given by any regulation of commerce or revenue to the ports of one State over those of another, nor shall vessels bound to, or from one State, be obliged to enter, clear or pay duties to another.
“The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the Several States.
“The United States shall guarantee a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion."
Nature bestows her varied and numerous favors on a geographical basis. Communities take root and become a part of the land. Where home is, that is my country is the natural and accepted belief and from that comes the feeling of proprietary interest in the wealth produced from the land. Certainly the area and wealth of Alaska is such that it deserves the same representation in Congress as the other States.
The people to settle the land, to develop the resources will come and certainly with greater assurance if they know they will have representation as Alaskans in the making of the laws and policies to be imposed upon them. Special assistance, special laws, and special favors all are rosy but illusive solutions. I regard them with a deep and abiding distrust for the simple reason that the other side of the coin is special discrimination, special ommission, special punishment. Equality of rights, privileges, and consideration as well as burdens is to my thinking the
dike that holds back exploitation and imperialism. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights is a covenant that we yearn to embrace.
There has been something said about commonwealth. When that word was first introduced in the consideration of Alaska's request for statehood I was puzzled. Now I am somewhat alarmed.
Can you define commonwealth? The dictionaries define it as follows: The people of a state, the state-a republic.
The Encyclopedia Americana defines it as follows: The state, or prosperity of à country without any reference to the form of government under which it may be at the time.
Commonwealth then is not defined in terms of rights or government. And to say one prefers commonwealth, without any further delineation of conditions is meaningless. Actually if the intent is to grant some additional but limited rights as for instance broader self government and the election of our own governor, then a thousand questions arise. Would Congress grant the Commonwealth proprietorship of the public domain and resources, the fisheries, furs, timber and tidelands? If not would they still be administered by the Federal Government and held in their hands under regulations and laws which we cannot change? If so, what's the gain? If a line is to be drawn-where draw it?
It has been suggested that the Federal Government forgive the ommonwealth the income tax. Would it? And if so, and as a result the products of our mines and industries successfully undercut the American market would you not impose import taxes or other restrictions to protect your own? Would we be permitted to trade direct with other nations and impose our own import and export taxes? Would we be required to sell only to American markets and buy from them and use only American shipping? Could we make our own trade treaties with other nations? How about immigration? Would the same quota's apply as for the States? Under what status would the military reservations remain?
All of these are already defined and established under the Constitution and its application if we were a member State.
As a Commonwealth would we be in the Union but not of it? A restricted semistate with 1 foot in and 1 foot out, our allegience torn asunder by discontent and disharmony at home which we would have no real power to alleviate? Or is it the intent and thought of people making such suggestions to send us on the road to an independent state?
Under the British Commonwealth of Nations are now seven sovereign states. They are sovereign in the fullest extent of the word. Each is the sole judge of the nature and extent of its assocation with the Commonwealth. It conducts its own internal and external affairs and is free at any time to withdraw if sentiment or expedience should so dictate. In all respects these nations are equal with Great Britian. They make their own laws, impose their own taxes, their own treaties. They need not if they do not desire, join in any military efforts or participate in any wars. These, ladies and gentlemen, have evolved under Britain's changing concept of commonwealth. Is that the direction in which the Congress of the United States wants to point Alaska?
There is no solution to the growing need for self-determination for the citizens of Alaska except full statehood or ultimate independence. Any other restrictive forms of government will remain onerous or quickly become so to a people whose heritage is the Declaration of Independence.
The idea of an independent state of Alaska is to me alarming-—I do not like the slow but inevitable severing of political, economic, and other mutual ties that such a course connotes.
We have carried here the yeast of democracy. It permeates our institutions and our people. In the face of our common heritage, the shrinking of space-time under the impact of science the argument of con-contiguity becomes weak and meaningless. The American flag and what it stands for here—it is dear to us even though its shadow falls more harshly upon us then it does upon you.
Considering where Alaska stands today and the direction in which her people (your kith and kin) may be pushed, how can the members of Congress justify themselves in the pages of history if they do not grant her statehood now?
As an Alaskan I wish to express my deep and sincere appreciation for the interest shown by you men and women in our problems today. May you bear in mind that with the strange turnings of fortune's wheel you and any one of you may find yourselves a member of our community one day—on the outside of the bar. Take our cause to your heart as though that were true today. Thank you.
Mrs. RYAN. The most important consideration regarding statehood now is the fact that Alaska is standing at an economic crossroads. Whether or not the tide of interest is going to grow or ebb I think is dependent upon us getting Statehood. Thank you.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Thank you very much, Mrs. Ryan.
Mr. PAYNE. Milton Lightwood, member of the board of directors of Operation Statehood.
STATEMENT OF MILTON LIGHTWOOD, MEMBER OF THE BOARD
OF DIRECTORS, OPERATION STATEHOOD
Mr. LIGHTWOOD. My name is Milton Lightwood. I am employed by Chugach Electric Association. I have lived in the Territory of Alaska for 9 years now. I came up here after service in the Army, expecting, as I had read from many of your Federal agencies, that Alaska was a great place to settle.
Alaska is a great place to settle if you can get land to settle on.
I worked for the Land Office for almost 5 years, and I do not think that the Land Office does as much as it could to encourage the settlement in this Territory.
I believe that as soon as we get to be a State maybe we can change some of those things to make it easier for people to settle this country.
You have told us many times, "Practice democracy on the Territorial level and we will give you statehood when we see that you can do the job with the government you have got.”
Well, we can't do the job with the government we have got because it is not democracy, it is colonialism. You have set up our organic act in such a way the only local government we have are the municipal governments. You have not said that we cannot have any other kind of local government, but the wording of the organic act discourages it.
I do not know why the legislature has never passed legislation which would start other forms of local government. They have made some attempts with our public-utility districts, but the failure of all of the people of Alaska to have equal access and effective access to a level of local government I feel has much further discouraged statehood because it prevents many people from having a proper voice and an agency of government that can do them the most good, because I feel that the local government is the one which the people are closest to and that is the one by which they can help themselves most.
We are citizens of the United States. We came up here as citizens and we are still citizens. And I think Congress has a moral obligation to respect our demands for statehood. Not because we are asking for something but because it is our right.
Mr. O'BRIEN. May I ask you, sir, what was your place of residence before you came to Alaska?
Mr. LIGHTWOOD. Pennsylvania. Reading, Pa.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Mrs. Ryan, what was your place of residence before you came to Alaska?
Mrs. Ryan. Southwest School of Mines of New Mexico.
Mrs. Ryan. New Mexico. I have lived in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arizona.