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State of Alaska Lands Selections: Interviews conducted in 1981 regarding land selections by the State of Alaska 1959-1976

In 1981 the Department of Natural Resources wanted to develop an understanding of how the State of Alaska selected land under the Alaska Statehood Act. Intern Doug Schoenberg interviewing key members of State government who were responsible for lands selections from 1959-1976.

The Alaska State Archives has digitized these interviews that were the result of Mr. Schoenberg's efforts. Interviews were conducted in Anchorage, Juneau, and telephonically in August of 1981. During the interviews several maps are mentioned that Mr. Schoenberg created to help those he interviewed recall past events. Unfortunately those maps did not accompany the audio recordings and have not been identified. Mr. Schoenberg told the State Archives that no final report was produced and the project was discontinued after his summer internship concluded, but these interviews provide a rare glimpse into the historical narrative behind the State of Alaska's land selections.

Interviews of 1981

Interviews listed in alphabetical order of last name.

Name (* indicates a short biography) Interview Date Position Held Audio
Roscoe Bell August 19, 1981 (State) Director of Division of Lands 1959-?, Dept. of Natural Resources Listen / Read Bell Interview
Joe Blum August 1981 (State) Chief of Habitat section 1970-1972, Deputy Commissioner 1972-1973, Dept. of Fish & Game Listen / Read Blum Interview
Jim Brooks *

Born August 6, 1922 in Erie, Pennsylvania; Died May 19, 2006; established residence in Alaska in 1940. Holds a B.S. degree from University of Alaska and a Master's degree in wildlife management. Served in the Army Air Corps 1942-1945, worked as a commercial fisherman, commercial pilot, and heavy equipment operator. Employed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game 1954-1967 (Director of Game 1956-1967). Appointed Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game 1972-1977.

August 13, 1981 (Territorial)(State) Director of Game 1956-1967, Commissioner 1972-1977, Dept. of Fish & Game.
Martha Chastain August 1981 (State) Public Information Officer 1962-1976, Dept. of Natural Resources. Listen / Read Chastain Interview
Sal DeLeonardis August 1981 (State) Lands Selection Officer 1959-1961, Lands Classification Officer 1961-1964, Dept. of Natural Resources. Part 1 [Poor audio quality. Transcript unavailable.] Part 2 Listen / Read DeLeonardis Interview, Pt. 2
Pedro Denton August 1981 (State) Head of Minerals section 1965-1968?, Division of Lands, Dept. of Natural Resources. Listen / Read Denton Interview
Chuck Herbert August 11, 1981 (State) Deputy Commissioner 1963-1966, Commissioner 1970-1974, Dept. of Natural Resources. Listen / Read Herbert Interview
Phil Holdsworth *

Born August 21, 1910 in Grants Pass, Oregon; Died June 3, 2001 in Anchorage, Alaska; received a B.S. degree in mining engineering from the University of Washington; Worked at several different mines in British Colombia and Alaska from 1926-1937; Was the superintendent at the Mindanao Mother Lode gold-copper mine in the Philippines from 1937-1942; Fought briefly with guerilla band of Filipinos in 1942 until captured by Japanese soldiers; Spent the next 3 years in Japanese internment camps until February 1945 when found by American soldiers; Returned to Alaska in 1946 and started work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 1949; 1952 appointed head of the Alaska Territorial Department of Mines; Worked as advisor to the Alaska Constitutional Convention in Fairbanks November 1955 to February 1956; Critical contributor in establishment of Natural Resource Article (Article VIII) of the Alaska Constitution; Appointed first Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources by Gov. William Egan in 1959 and served in that role until 1967; After 1967 continued to work on mining issues as a lobbyist for the Alaska Miners Association also served on the Alaska Federal-State Land Use Planning Commission.

August 1981 (State) Commissioner 1959-1967, Dept. of Natural Resources. Part 1 Part 2
Joe Keenan August 25, 1981 (State) Director of Division of Lands (dates unknown), Dept. of Natural Resources.
Tom Kelly August 21, 1981 (State) Commissioner 1967-1970, Dept. of Natural Resources. Listen / Read Kelly Interview
Herb Lang August 5, 1981 (Territorial) Lands Office 1958-1959, (State) Dept. of Natural Resources (dates unknown).
Tom Marshall August 1981 (State) Assistant Lands Selection Officer 1960-1962, Lands Selection Officer, 1962-? State Petroleum Geologists, Division of Mines and Minerals, Dept. of Natural Resources. Chief Petroleum Geologist in Division of Oil and Gas, Dept. of Natural Resources (dates unknown).

Note – Recording 2 of 2 has sections of muffled sound and some missing audio near the end ~10 minutes

Part 1 Part 2
Maurice Oswald August 6, 1981 (Territorial) Surveying Officer 1958–1959, Territorial Dept. of Lands (State) Chief Cadastral Engineer 1959-1962 Division of Lands, Dept. of Natural Resources 1959-1962.
John Salit August 1981 (State) Records 1964-1965, Lands Officer 1965-1977, Division of Lands, Dept. of Natural Resources.

Note – Recording 1 of 2 has short sections of missing audio starting at 42:00

Part 1 Part 2
Mike CT Smith August 4, 1981 (State) Chief of Habitat Development, Dept. of Fish & Game 1971-1974, Director Division of Lands & Assistant Commissioner, Dept. of Natural Resources 1974-1975.
(Note – Recording has no audio at 42:20 to 43:36)
Theodore (Ted) G. Smith *

Born November 9, 1929 in Nebraska; date of death unknown; holds a B.S. degree in Forestry from the University of Washington, Seattle; served with the U.S Air Force; self-employed as a consultant; has served as director of the State Division of Parks and director of Land Use Planning Commission; Chairman of Historic Sites Advisory Committee; elected to the State House of Representatives in 1974.

August 1981 (State) Inventory Forster 1960-1962, Anchorage District Forster 1962-1965, Branch Chief of Parks and Recreation 1965-1970, Director Division of Parks, Division of Lands 1970-1974, served as Representative in the State House 1974-1976, Director Division of Land and Water Management, Dept. of Natural Resources 1976-1981(?).
Ron Sommerville August 14, 1981 (unknown position and dates) Dept. of Fish & Game

(Note – Interview ends at 39:00 however the recording continues until 45:10)

Dale Tubbs August 5, 1981 (State) District Forester 1962 – 1967, Reality Officer 1967-1969, South Central District Land Manager 1969-1973, Acting Chief of Lands Section 1973-1974, Deputy Director Division of Lands 1974-1976, Dept. of Natural Resources.

(Note – Recording has sections of muffled sound)

Jim Williams August 4, 1981 Territorial) Field Mining Engineer 1950-1959 (State) Division of Mines and Minerals, Division of Lands, Dept. of Natural Resources 1959-1968?.

(Note – Recording has sections of muffled sound)

Combined Interview

The following individuals, all employeed by the Department of Fish & Game, were interviewed together in August of 1981:

  • Ron Sommerville
  • Bob Hemmion
  • Bud Barris

Ron Summerville was also interviewed individually on August 14, 1981 (see above). Due to audio deterioration only a small portion of this recording is available.

Sources for Biographical Information

  • Alaska Blue Book 1973, 1975, 1977
  • "Alaska Mining Hall of Fame Foundation Home." The Alaska Mining Hall of Fame Foundation, Inc. was founded to honor outstanding individuals that have played important roles in the development of Alaska's mineral industry. Alaska Mining Hall of Fame Foundation Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Jan. 2014.
  • Atwood, Evangeline and DeArmond, Robert N. Who's Who in Alaskan Politics A Biographical Dictionary of Alaskan Political Personalities, 1884-1974. 1st Ed. Portland, Oregon: Binford & Mort, 1977. Print

Page last updated 04/20/2020