Tlingit and Haida Executive Committee

This photograph shows the Tlingit and Haida Executive Committee in the early 1960s.

They were responsible for accepting the judgement and funds- $7.5 million (approximately $64 million in 2018 dollars)- from the Federal government.  This money was invested for the long term and monies could not be used unless it was from the interest on the investment.

Since 1935 the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (CCTHITA) had been a federally-recognized regional tribe, and is one of only two regional tribes in Alaska. The CCTHITA compacts with 20 tribal communities that are spread over 43,000 square miles within Southeast Alaska.  CCTHITA was instrumental in representing Southeast tribes in their land claims negotiations and the story of its involvement shows dedication, drive and hope.  As Committee member John Borbridge said “It is the story of the people who are members of the tribe beginning to understand the extent and nature of their rights and the rights that they have asserted through their predecessors… We wanted land. That was the dream we had for our people. Land. It is cruel to be living in the midst of beautiful land, land that belonged to the Forest Service, belonged to the state of Alaska or territory of Alaska.”

In the late 1950s, the Tlingit and Haida people won partial compensation from the federal government for the land they lost when the United States took over Alaska.  During the original talks for the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, there was a lot of desire from other regions to leave Southeast out because they felt like they had already been dealt with.  Land Claims leaders made sure Southeast was included in the judgement and funding from the government.

These Land Claims leaders represented a diverse group of Southeast Alaska Natives: 

Left to Right: Roger Lang, Sitka, Charles Nelson, Ketchikan; James Peters, Juneau Tlingit Village; John Borbridge, Juneau; Harvey Marvin, Hoonah; Frank See, Sr., Hoonah; Kenny Leask, Metlakatla and Seattle.