Doyon and Canyon Village Support Land Conveyance Bill HR 231
Canyon Village was established on the banks of the Porcupine River at the tribe’s traditional village site used for hunting. After the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) passed in 1971, Canyon Village was recognized by Congress as a Native village subject to ANCSA, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs certified Kian Tr’ee Corporation as the corporation for Canyon Village. However, despite continued assurances over decades, the original land selections by Canyon Village have never been conveyed.
The members of Canyon Village continue to hold their traditional site at Canyon Village of historical and cultural importance, and have long advocated for their land selections authorized by ANCSA. According to Delma Fields, First Chief of Canyon Village, “Our family, an extended family, chose to live here as it is our hunting grounds, and was our ancestor’s hunting grounds for many, many years. Our culture and our lives are based around land, this land in particular.”
In June 1976, Kian Tr’ee Corporation filed its land selection with the Bureau of Land Management pursuant to ANCSA for conveyance to the Native group. However, due to a series of federal actions, the people of Canyon Village have been denied their aboriginal land claims provided by ANCSA for over 40 years now.
Today Kian Tr’ee is one of two certified Native group corporations in Alaska that has neither a conveyance nor a pending conveyance arranged by special legislation or negotiation, yet there is a remedy at hand. Congressman Don Young introduced HR 231 in January 2016. HR 231, or the Canyon Village Land Conveyance Act, amends ANCSA to require the secretary of the interior to convey up to 6,400 acres of land selected to Kian Tr’ee.
Passage of the bill would provide renewed hope in final conveyance. Fields said, “As our elders pass on, it’s imperative that we keep our connection with the land to continue our heritage for the sake of our children, grandchildren and future generations.”