TITLE: Support for Restitution Act Amendments to Rebuild Health Facilities
WHEREAS, we, the members of the National Congress of American Indians of the United States, invoking the divine blessing of the Creator upon our efforts and purposes, in order to preserve for ourselves and our descendants the inherent sovereign rights of our Indian nations, rights secured under Indian treaties and agreements with the United States, and all other rights and benefits to which we are entitled under the laws and Constitution of the United States, to enlighten the public toward a better understanding of the Indian people, to preserve Indian cultural values, and otherwise promote the health, safety and welfare of the Indian people, do hereby establish and submit the following resolution; and
WHEREAS, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was established in 1944 and is the oldest and largest national organization of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments; and
WHEREAS, NCAI has consistently supported the provision of health care for American Indians and Alaska Natives at the local, tribal community level; and
WHEREAS, at the 70th NCAI Convention, the Aleutian Pribilof Island Association (APIA) brought to light, through advocacy, dialogue, and education, historical evidence and descriptions of the World War II era destruction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) hospital in Unalaska and the health clinic on the island of Atka; and
WHEREAS, on June 4, 1942, the Japanese destroyed the 24 bed hospital in Unalaska, Alaska, then operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) during the only wartime loss in American history of a similar facility aimed at improving the healthcare for American Indian/Alaska Native people—specifically the Aleut people of the region; and
WHEREAS, on June 14, 1942, the U.S. military forcibly evacuated the people of Atka Island and the U.S. Navy burned the island to the ground, including houses, buildings, and the island health facility at that time; and
WHEREAS, during this World War II era, Aleuts from the Pribilofs and Aleutian islands were evacuated by the federal government to various locations in southeastern Alaska, “for their protection”, and these remote locations lacked adequate healthcare, basic necessities, and over 10 percent of those removed died; and
WHEREAS, the 1980 Congressional Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians examined the impacts to Aleut people, and recommended appropriate remedies, including restitution; and
WHEREAS, on August 10, 1988, Congress adopted the “Aleutian and Pribilof Islands Restitution Act,” Public Law 100-383 (“the Restitution Act”), comprised of several elements, with specific creation of a broad fiduciary relationship between the federal government and the Aleut people, with authorized appropriations aimed at partial redress of community and individual losses, among other elements; and
WHEREAS, the Restitution Act was amended once, in 1994, specifically for the purposes of increasing funding to address restitution for the loss of church properties; and
WHEREAS, the Restitution Act has never provided funding to address the loss of the hospital in Unalaska, or the health clinic lost in Atka, resulting in the requirement for Aleut people to travel hundreds (even thousands) of miles to Anchorage for inpatient hospital care, and/or off Atka for even basic health care, at a tremendous personal and economic cost to those people and communities; and
WHEREAS, both the Qawalangin Tribal Council, representing the community of Unalaska, and the Atka IRA Council have passed resolutions in support of partnering with the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association (APIA) to seek to amend the Restitution Act to provide further authorization and funding to construct, operate, and maintain the inpatient hospital in Unalaska, and Atka clinic facility, capable of serving Alaska Native and other community residents from these islands.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the NCAI hereby supports these Tribes, and the APIA, in their efforts to work with the Alaska Congressional delegation, and others, to amend the Restitution Act to provide for additional authorization and appropriations for healthcare facilities construction, operation and maintenance; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NCAI supports the additional efforts of the Qawalangin Tribal Council and the APIA to seek funding directly from the Japanese government, in coordination with the United States State Department, to right this historic wrong and reconstruct the health facility destroyed by their military on June 4, 1942; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that this resolution shall be the policy of NCAI until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.
The foregoing resolution was adopted by the General Assembly at the 2013 Annual Session of the National Congress of American Indians, held at the Cox Business Center from October 13 - 18, 2013 in Tulsa, Oklahoma with a quorum present.