Vice Chairman Murkowski Emphasizes Importance of the Tourism Industry to Alaska Native Communities

Invited Alaskan witness, Mr. Russell Dick, President and CEO of the Huna Totem Corporation Testifies at Committee Oversight Hearing
May 14, 2021

WASHINGTON – This week, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, underscored the importance of tourism to Alaska Native communities and the entire Alaskan economy at a hearing, “Examining the COVID-19 Response in Native Communities: Native Tourism Economies One Year Later.”


“Native Tourism touches on so many extraordinary aspects of Indian Country and our Alaska Native communities, of Native Hawaiians: vibrant cultures and languages, economic empowerment, resiliency, and the opportunity to share Native history and traditions and perpetuate native culture for future generations,” Murkowski said. “In Alaska, we know firsthand the importance of tourism to our state’s economy. In 2020 alone, the cancellation of the cruise ship season has caused an estimated revenue loss of over $90 million to the State, $98 million to local governments, and over $1 billion in lost revenue for local businesses.”


Vice Chairman Murkowski reiterated the effort she has made to alleviate the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA) restriction that prevents cruise ships from transporting passengers between Washington State and Alaska. She welcomed testimony from, Mr. Russell Dick, the President and CEO of Huna Totem Corporation, a Native Village Corporation formed under the terms of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). His testimony spoke directly to the impact of a federal law like PVSA, which limits Huna Totem’s ability to provide for jobs and the economy for a small Native community such as Hoonah, as well as the broader opportunities to the Native people in the region.


Pictured: Senator Murkowski providing an opening statement on May 12, 2021


Click here to watch Vice Chairman Murkowski’s full opening statement.


During her questioning, Vice Chairman Murkowski posed questions to Mr. Russell Dick on what it would mean to Hoonah to not have a tourism season. Click here to watch.