This week, Alaska fisheries writer Stephen Taufen gave a capsule biography of that important aspect of Bartlett's legacy. It was part of an excellent, full-size article about the United Fishermen of Alaska Fisheries Hall of Fame awards, presented last week at ComFish 2009 in Kodiak.]
Bob Bartlett - "Architect of Alaska Statehood"
--- by Stephen Taufen
Pre-statehood the territory was a colonial economy that for salmon was "a legacy of Seattle and San Francisco cannery operators' unmerciful exploitation of Alaska 's fisheries." And while UFA's charter members include Bob Bartlett for "1964 Federal Legislation banning foreign fishing fleets in territorial waters," they left out the most important reason to celebrate Bartlett — his keynote address at Alaska's Constitutional Convention, a speech about building protections into Alaska's constitution to keep Alaska's "resources from falling under the control of outside interests."
In light of the privatization schemes of gifted federal quotas of fish off Alaska's shores, Bartlett would doubtlessly have refused to be on the same list as Ted Stevens, a corrupt senator who penned those Rationalization schemes that have led to overwhelming levels of foreign and outside ownership of Alaskan processing plants.
According to public sources, "Senator Edward Lewis "Bob" Bartlett served as Alaska 's Territorial Delegate to Congress from 1945-59. Following Alaska 's induction into the Union on January 3, 1959, Bartlett served as U. S. Senator until his death in 1968. The Library of Congress estimates that he had more bills passed into law than any other Member in the history of Congress."
An earlier article in AlaskaReport by Ray Metcalfe outlined Bob's message in the late-1950's. Bartlett 's speech read "A failure to write into fundamental law basic barriers to minimize fraud, corruption, non-development, and exploitation may well be viewed fifty years from now as this Convention's greatest omission."
Bartlett warned "Two very real dangers are present. The first and most obvious danger is that of exploitation under the thin disguise of development. The taking of Alaska's mineral resources without leaving some reasonable return for the support of Alaska governmental services and the use of all the people of Alaska will mean a betrayal in the administration of the people's wealth.
Bartlett further warned "that outside interests, determined to stifle any development in Alaska which might compete with their activities elsewhere, will attempt to acquire great areas of Alaska's public lands in order NOT to develop them until such time as, in their omnipotence and the pursuance of their own interests, they see fit. If large areas of Alaska's patrimony are turned over to such corporations the people of Alaska may be even more the losers than if the lands had been exploited."
In response, Alaska's delegates adopted the most comprehensive resource protection Resources Article in the nation. Article VIII, Section 1 — requires resources to be made available for the maximum use "consistent with the public interest." Section 2 — requires development and conservation (conservation meaning wise use) "for the maximum benefit of its people."
thanks to The Alaska Report for permission to reprint this article
image - Bob Bartlett (from mralaska.org)