ANCHORAGE (AP) -- President Clinton has signed a bill restoring 50,000 acres to the village of Elim after it was taken from Natives more than 70 years ago.
''The loss of land from the orignal reservation has been a festering wound for the people in Elim and Norton Sound for 70 years,'' Alaska Sen. Frank Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement Wednesday.
The Elim Native Corp. had been asking Congress for years to restore the property lopped from the eastern edge of the Norton Bay Reservation in 1929 to create homesteads for World War I veterans.
Alaska Congressman Don Young sponsored the bill that passed the House last fall and the Senate last month, granting the corporation the land to replace what was taken by executive order in 1929. The president signed the bill Tuesday.
The legislation languished until the corporation hired a new lawyer-lobbyist last year, Roy Jones, who directed a search of government archives for information about President Hoover's order. That search yielded government and territorial records revealing that commercial fur trappers wanted access to the lands and argued that the Natives didn't need the property.
''We are very pleased and thankful to finally have our land restored,'' said Joe Murray, president of Elim Native Corp. He praised the Clinton administration for correcting a wrong done in 1929 and praised Young and his staff.
''This is a great step for all Native Americans,'' he said.
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