Dear assembly members and Mayor Cremata,
Let me start off with gratitude and thank each one of you for all the hard work and stressful hours put in to bettering the community.
I am writing to you in hopes to clear up some confusion that seems to be making its way through public channels regarding multiple inaccurate comments made by Assembly Member Hanson, most recently heard at the candidates forum.
The comment(s) suggested that the municipality has requested from the Tribal Government a plan of what Skagway Traditional Council (STC) would do with the property of the former Pius X Resident School if it were gifted and that STC has not responded to that request.
I want to make clear a few points to the assembly and to those who are reading this correspondence.
First, the Tribal Government has never received any official request for a plan for Garden City RV Park property. Saying that there were multiple attempts of requests for a plan is inaccurate and confusing to the public. However, there was one comment made during one of the assembly meetings some time ago that we happened to catch, and we did respond to that the best we could. Our response to what we would do should the land be gifted stands the same.
“We firmly believe that any project not supported by the community would not be successful. We would first gain public input from the community. Additionally, we would take in consideration anyone who had attended the school or their descendants because we believe it would help heal and find closure.”
(Our response can be found in our letter addressed to the assembly on March 11.)
Secondly, gifting the entirety of the Pius X Mission property to STC in recognition of the profound impact the institution had and still has on Native Alaskans would be admirable and precedent-setting in a time when the whole nation is grappling with the mistreatment, neglect and abuses that occurred at Native boarding schools (including the Pius X Mission); however, STC never requested the whole property. Credit for the idea of gifting the entire property or half to STC goes to our mayor and assembly. In our very first correspondence about the property, we “recommend(ed) that a section of the property be gifted to STC for the purpose of acknowledgment of the school’s existence and its impacts on the lives of the indigenous people of SE Alaska.”
(Our initial correspondence related to the Pius X property can be found in our letter addressed to the assembly on Sept. 9, 2020.)
Finally, if the municipality were to gift us land at the former Pius X Mission: Catholic resident school for Native children property, we would need the following to provide you with a plan.
1. How much land should we plan on receiving? After all, the suggestions from the assembly have ranged from none to the whole site.
2. When would we receive this land?
3. Will there be restrictions on this gift?
4. Is the land ready to be built on or is there improvements/mitigation etc. that must happen first? If so, what is the projected cost?
It would not be reasonable for us to spend staff time, residents’ time and/or resources on a plan without having an agreement that outlines the above four points at a minimum.
I am sure you understand that the above is a must for any land development plan when working with another government.
Tribal Administrator, Skagway Traditional Council