Monday, 10 May 2010

Greg Palast and Geoffrey Dunn offer two different perspectives on Wally Hickel - and "The Rogue Candidate" will be unleashed soon!

The death of Walter J. ("Wally") Hickel generated some interesting articles by Greg Palast and Geoffrey Dunn.

Greg Palast offers a good insight into how Alaska Natives were talked into giving up their land for oil exploration. Here are some excerpts:
Wally Hickel invented Alaska and told me he regretted it. He also invented Sarah Palin, and I was hoping, when I travel to Alaska next month, to ask him whether he also regretted that second creation.

Walter Hickel, elected Governor of Alaska twice over twenty-five years, was one strange Republican. Nixon expelled him from the Cabinet in 1970 for publicly opposing the invasion of Cambodia. Hickel was a Huey Long-style populist socialist. "Private property," he told me, "is an artifact of the temperate zone; it just won't work for most of the planet."

But for a man averse to private property, he owned lots of it and hungered for more. He was undoubtedly Alaska's richest man and how he got it, and how he maneuvered to get more, with Nixon's help, and later, Palin's, was the reason I have been investigating him.

Thirty years ago, Hickel realized that his arctic dreams lay in Alaska's vast reserves of gas, oil, coal and lumber. But extracting and shipping those resources required removing a large obstacle: the land's ownership by Indians and Natives.

The US Congress recognized Native land rights in the original agreement to purchase Alaska from Russia and, in 1959, again acknowledged those rights, albeit reluctantly, when Alaska became America's 49th state.

Hickel, elected Alaska's second Governor in 1966, was driven crazy by the Natives' ownership of the land. He told me, "You can only claim title to land by conquest or purchase. Just because your granddaddy chased a moose across some property doesn't mean you own it."

Unless the Natives ceded or sold their territory, billions of barrels of crude oil on Alaska's North Slope could not get to port through a pipeline proposed by a consortium led by British Petroleum and its junior partner, Exxon.

From inside the Nixon Cabinet and outside, Hickel successfully lobbied Congress for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. But the BP/Exxon pipe required getting those Natives out of the way. And that required passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.

ANCSA contained a clause unique in US history: Rather than create reservations in which there would be a sovereign territory held for Natives in perpetuity, Alaskan Natives would be given shares of stock in a dozen or so corporations. The corporations, not the Natives, would own the land.

Most important, because the land was corporate real estate, not reservation property, it could be sold. And guess who was ready to buy it?

Today, most of the Native Alaskan corporate land of the Prince William Sound is owned by people who don't live in Alaska. The remaining Natives are now tenants of the land their ancestors have lived on for 3,000 years.

Native leader Gail Evanoff told me, that was the plan from Day One. "They set it up for us to fail. They put it in a form they could take away."
Please read the full article HERE.

Palast is raising money to continue his investigation of BP and their dealings in Alaska.
Greg Palast investigated the Exxon Valdez grounding for the Natives' Chugach Alaska Corporation. Palast is author of the New York Times bestsellers, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and Armed Madhouse.
The not-for-profit Palast Investigative Fund is seeking your support for the Palast team's travel to Alaska as part of our investigation of British Petroleum. For your tax-deductible donation, the author would be pleased to sign and send you a gift book or DVD.
We have donated today and are looking forward to receiving the book "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy". There's a good choice of books and DVDs. We are glad to contribute to investigative journalists doing some serious work to uncover the shady dealings of oil companies operating in Alaska, as it's bound to reveal something about Sarah Palin.


Another project that involves Alaska and Sarah Palin is under way and it sounds very good.

Filmmaker Zachary Roberts is planning a visit to the Last Frontier next month. Please click on the image below to visit his site and watch a new video about the rogue half-governor.

In addition, here is an excerpt from the interview that Greg Palast did with Zachary Roberts for the new film "The Rogue Candidate" - this is a must-see clip, I cannot wait for the whole film:


Geoffrey Dunn wrote a more sympathetic article about Hickel, but wasn't so kind to Sarah Palin.
I spent a fascinating morning with Hickel this past summer, in the office of his downtown Anchorage landmark, the Captain Cook Hotel, and he was every bit as dignified and gracious as he was when I first encountered him 35 years earlier in Anchorage, then a raw and wild oil town.

As he approached his 90th birthday, his grip was still strong and his "boomer" vision of Alaska remained his passion. A former boxer, he looked like he could still go a few rounds and I wouldn't want to cross him. He may have lost some of his intellectual edge after nine decades, but his spirit remained undaunted, his eyes bright, particularly when his bride of 67 years, Ermalee, later joined us in the conversation.

Hickel was still pushing his vision of an "owner state"--articulated in his book Crisis in the Commons: The Alaska Solution--and he remained upbeat about the possibilities facing Alaska. He was convinced that the "Age of the Artic" was still ahead and he still believed in "big ideas."
But when I asked Hickel about then governor Sarah Palin, his disposition turned hard. Hickel had played a major role in her victory as governor in the 2006 election--his stamp of approval went a long way toward getting her elected--and he expected a place at the table with the young governor as she was set to guide Alaska into the New Millenium.
In the immediate aftermath of Palin's election, however, Palin cast Hickel aside. As anyone who has ever worked with or for Sarah Palin knows full well, her capacity for deceit and betrayal knows no bounds. She stabbed Hickel in the back.

As a result, Hickel viewed Palin with personal disdain, describing her "political opportunism" in the most condemnatory terms possible. He had lost all respect for her. She "used" him like she would use many other patrons as she scratched and lied her way to a strange form of national political celebrity, and Hickel was not afraid to call it like he saw it. He was not bitter--he was a much bigger man than that--but at the same time, he was not afraid to show his disgust. "I don't give a damn about her," he told me.

When I asked him for a formal, on-the-record response to Palin's stunted career as governor, he took a deep pause. "She fell in love with the national spotlight and lost her ethical compass," he said thoughtfully. "That was a sad day for Alaska and America."

Not surprisingly, Palin did not dignify Hickel's passing with a formal acknowledgment on her Facebook page, but instead issued a shameful and shallow "reflection" on Twitter in her distinctive Palinese:
"Upon his passing,we honor Gov Walter Hickel's life,he made real difference in the world.Unsurpassed impacts on Alaska,the Arctic&her people[sic]"
That was it. Palin was well aware of Hickel's disdain, and she could not rise above her pettiness to issue the formal acknowledgment that his life and career warranted.
The full article can be found on the Huffington Post.

So here we have three people taking a closer look at Alaska and the effect Sarah Palin had on the state during her short stint as governor. Let's support them in their investigations, hopefully they'll be able to bring some of the stories we know so well to a larger audience!

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