WASHINGTON (Feb. 12)
Criticizing opposition of “certain groups” in Alaska to colonization of refugees, Secretary of Interior Harold L. Ickes declared today that the proposed settlement in the territory had received one of the most comprehensive endorsements of any major, far-reaching national development ever proposed in the United States.
Approval of the plan was given by 841/2 per cent of 338 newspapers which carried editorials on the subject, Secretary Ickes said, with 7 per cent non-committal and 81/2 per cent disapproving. Of the 4,135 letters received up to Feb. 2, fewer than one-half of one per cent were critical.
While continental reaction has been overwhelmingly favorable, Ickes declared, certain groups in the sparsely settled territory have voiced objection, claiming that Alaska should not be singled out for special legislation which would allow groups of American citizens and immigrants from Europe to settle there. The Chambers of Commerce of Juneau, Anchorage, Douglas and Fairbanks have taken a stand against various aspects of the plan.
Pointing out that Alaska constantly requests and receives special legislation because of its special problems, Secretary Ickes said: “Much of this opposition is couched in incomprehensible phraseology. It is mainly from a handful of Alaska’s 30,000 White population, which feels that its monopoly of Alaskan resources would be threatened by an increased population.”
On the other hand, the statement said, four of Alaska’s chambers of commerce–those in Seward, Cordova, Skagway and Petersburg–have expressed belief in the feasibility of the plan and have offered every cooperation.
The proposed program, which would provide for development of Alaskan resources by privately financed limited-dividend corporations under Government supervision, has attracted the attention of business people throughout the United States, Ickes said. It is expected that these would form a nucleus of business pioneers, furnishing the capital for enterprises upon which colonization would be based.