Sealaska Corporation has formally responded to Sheldon Jackson College Trustees’ claim to a popular fishing area near Sitka.
The Southeast regional Native corporation says it should take over an 11-acre site including Redoubt Falls and parts of a nearby lake and bay.
Sheldon Jackson’s trustees have made claim to 160 acres in the area, including the land Sealaska seeks. The corporation’s answer to that claim was filed Tuesday with the federal Bureau of Land Management.
The claim says the land sought by Sealaska included the traditional Tlingit fishing village of Kunáa, historically owned by the Kiks.adi Clan.
Jaleen Araujo is Sealaska’s general counsel.
“We believe it’s pretty clear that Native ownership and use and occupancy was established first. And we understand there may have been some Russian use. But we still believe we have a very strong claim to Native historical use and will continue to pursue that claim,” she says.
Sealaska plans to turn site management over to the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, if it wins its claim.
Sheldon Jackson’s trustees say they can trace ownership from around the time Russia sold Alaska to the United States. Their filings also say Redoubt once housed a small Russian town.
The corporation says those claims are for long-gone buildings, not the land, which is now part of the Tongass National Forest. And it says Russian historians traced the Tlingit town to before colonial times.
Sealaska also says the Russians paid a form of rent to use the Redoubt area. In addition, it says Russian law strictly prohibited colonists from appropriating Tlingit-owned property.