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Point Spencer Transferred to BSNC, Ancestral Lands Could Be Developed for Arctic Security

After more than five years of negotiations, the Bureau of Land Management has officially transferred 2,000 acres of land at Point Spencer to Bering Straits Native Corporation.

This neck of land near Teller, that acts as a barrier between Port Clarence Bay and the Bering Sea, was originally authorized to be given to BSNC and the State of Alaska in 2016 under the U.S. Coast Guard Authorization Act.

But according to a statement from BLM, following an environmental site assessment and the signing of transfer patent, the two tracts of land in question were officially conveyed as of yesterday.

From left to right: BLM Alaska Land Law Examiner, Christy Favorite; Bering Straits Native Corporation President and CEO, Gail Schubert; BLM Alaska State Director Chad Padgett; BLM Alaska Land Law Examiner Dina Torres are picture at the BLM Alaska State Office during a signing ceremony for a patent that conveys lands near Point Spencer to BSNC. Photo from Melinda Bolton, BLM, used with permission (2020).

BSNC’s CEO and President, Gail Schubert, says Point Spencer was used for centuries as a gathering place where their ancestors would celebrate and trade with whaling vessels from other communities.

“We hope this small stretch of land that has served for hundreds of years as a barrier and protector of the natural deep-water port, known as Port Clarence, will once again be used to serve our country as a vanguard of the safety and security of Alaska, America and the American people.”

– Gail Schubert

For roughly 50 years, the Coast Guard used this land as a base of operations until it was decommissioned in 2010. And before that, during World War II, Point Spencer was developed as a long-range navigation site.

Now the site’s militaristic value could take a new form. Based on the Coast Guard Authorization Act from 2016, Point Spencer will likely be used to support another Arctic Deep Draft Port in Western Alaska.

Senator Dan Sullivan has previously told KNOM he is advocating for multiple ports to be established in the region at places like Nome, Point Clarence, and Cape Blossom near Kotzebue.

Nome’s Arctic Deep Draft Port Project was signed off on by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the end of May and is now waiting for final authorization from Congress.

According to the BLM’s press release, BSNC’s land at Point Spencer could be a site for future infrastructure development based on its’ “national interest for the Coast Guard.”

Image at top: Point Spencer is the western spit enclosing the Port Clarence sight, across from Cape Riley near Teller and Brevig Mission. Photo: screen grab from Mapcarta.com

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We acknowledge that KNOM Radio Mission is located on the customary lands of Indigenous peoples. 

Based in the Bering Strait region, KNOM broadcasts throughout the homelands of the Iñupiaq, Siberian Yup’ik, Cup’ik and Yup’ik peoples.

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