Ella Craig was interviewed by Bill Schneider and Karen Brewster on November 13, 2008 at the Mental Health Trust Authority office in Anchorage, Alaska.
Return to part one of this interview.
Click to section:
Section 1: Starting the National Association of Social Workers in Alaska, and her career after retiring from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Section 2: After retirement, getting involved with advocacy for elderly people in Alaska, and discusses her husband and family.
Section 3: The changes she's seen in mental health services, assessing her role in the development of social service programs in Alaska, and receiving an award from the National Association of Social Workers.
Section 4: Experiences working within the Native community.
Section 5: Contact with former patients, working in the Native community, and difficulty of having to make decisions about removing children from a home.
This recording has been edited.
ELLA CRAIG: But -- and one of the reasons for that was the Third World Government at that time required that you have a masters degree in social work if you were going to work for them. The Territory of Alaska didn't. And they had any number of people, in fact, the majority of people on the staff were not trained social workers. I know when we first started our chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, we couldn't get enough social workers to start a chapter. You had to have 20.
And we finally agreed that we would accept a person who had been a member of a similar organization in the states but he didn't meet the requirements for the national organization, and we had to get special permission from the national organization, and they let us have a state chapter instead of a local Anchorage chapter so we could get 20 members. This was 20 social workers for the whole state. BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah, it's amazing.
ELLA CRAIG: Who were trained.
BILL SCHNEIDER: It's amazing the growth of that profession.
ELLA CRAIG: And so now I think we -- we have over 500 members.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah, I would -- I would guess. Well, let's get to the rest of your career.
ELLA CRAIG: Okay.
BILL SCHNEIDER: So Kodiak --
ELLA CRAIG: Uh-hum.
BILL SCHNEIDER: -- and then back to Anchorage?
ELLA CRAIG: Uh-hum.
BILL SCHNEIDER: And your responsibilities for Kodiak and the Chain. And then what? ELLA CRAIG: Well, I stayed with the Bureau of Indian Affairs for 34 years, I think, or 32 years, or something like that. I got some extra time because I was non-Native, and they didn't -- they reached a point when we started doing the contracting, the 638 contracting, that they wanted all of the staff to be Native. And I was the longest tenured staff member and the only non-Native member, so they offered me a really neat retirement package, so I retired. And then I --
KAREN BREWSTER: What year was that? ELLA CRAIG: That was in '86, I think. Yeah, '86, I think.
And then I went to work that same year for Charter North Hospital because at that point, they had an 80-bed hospital, and of course, JCAH says if you have a hospital that large, you have to have a social work department. So they needed somebody to set up a social work department, so they asked me to do it. So I stayed there until I was vested, which was 6 years. It was quite an experience, too.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Really?
KAREN BREWSTER: Can you describe Charter North Hospital? I'm not familiar with it. ELLA CRAIG: Charter North is -- that's the old North Star Hospital. I mean, North Star used to be Charter North.
KAREN BREWSTER: Is that a --
ELLA CRAIG: It's a psychiatric and substance abuse treatment facility. There's a children's unit.
BILL SCHNEIDER: But it was particularly difficult? ELLA CRAIG: Well, it's a for-profit organization.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Oh.
ELLA CRAIG: And I had not worked for a for-profit organization. And it was difficult for me to --
BILL SCHNEIDER: Let's --
ELLA CRAIG: -- just to be in that arena, I guess.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah. Uh-hum. ELLA CRAIG: I -- I enjoyed what I did, and it was a good experience for me, and I set up the social services department, had good staff and that sort of thing, but the -- it's just different working with a for-profit outfit when you've been accustomed to non-profits the majority of your life, and that sort of thing. Because I had to know whether a patient needed to be in the hospital that long, if they had insurance, you know, this kind of thing. And there was just certain things that...
BILL SCHNEIDER: You had to deal with?
ELLA CRAIG: Uh-hum. Section 2:
BILL SCHNEIDER: So that brings us up to --
ELLA CRAIG: Up to --
BILL SCHNEIDER: -- around 1992 or so.
ELLA CRAIG: Uh-hum. Uh-hum. And then after that, you know, I retired again, and they were going through some really difficult financial situations and so I found that my retirement consisted, I think, of 43 cents. And I also decided, okay, I'm old, I might as well be concerned about what's happening to the few seniors that we have in the community. And so I -- and as, of course, my peers were leaving me, so I started advocating to the best of my abilities through -- was concerned for senior programs that were in the process of developing. And I had an opportunity to serve on the Alaska Commission on Aging, and I chaired the Pioneer Home board for several years. So I had an opportunity to see some of the problems and some of the issues that were popping up.
And there was no reason that history should just repeat itself because I would go to meetings about concerns like, for example, transportation or medical care or something, and it would be the same thing we had discussed, you know, 50 years ago. So and -- and there's a fair amount of ageism existing in Alaska, and rightfully so, because there are not many of us, and there were fewer of us earlier.
I can recall our vacation that we took to the states with my youngster when he was four and a half years old, and of course, we went to St. Petersburg, Florida, on our tour, and he had never seen anyone with white hair, had never seen anyone on crutches or in a wheelchair. It just didn't exist in the public arena in Alaska. And he was very, very interested and curious about all of this. And asked a lot of embarrassing questions to people. It -- it really gave me cause to think in terms of really there are no seniors to speak of in Alaska. So I became fairly active in that. And then we were able to get the Geriatric Education Center at the university, so I've been working with them. They let me work as a consultant once in awhile. And I work as a volunteer there also and chair their advisory board. So it's been an interesting process. BILL SCHNEIDER: Well, one thing we haven't talked about is your family. At some point along the line you got married and you had kids?
ELLA CRAIG: At some point, I did. Uh-hum. I married shortly after I moved to Anchorage, and my husband is -- was an engineer. And he was the project engineer for the Aleutian Homes in Kodiak, which was their first housing project that was built. And I met him shortly after I arrived there because as I say, everybody knew who the single guys were and who the single women were, and so I met him at a Halloween party. And we were married after I moved to Kod -- to Anchorage. And I have four children. And my oldest is a son, and he is with the Regulatory Commission for the State as the consumer representative of -- I've forgotten what the title of the position is. Anyway, he listens to complaints, you know that. I said, well, if you can't be a social worker, you know, that's pretty close. And then I have a daughter next who is a physician's assistant. She worked for several years as a health aide in the -- out in the villages.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Oh really.
ELLA CRAIG: And then decided she wanted to be a health -- physician assistant. So -- and then my third daughter -- I mean my second daughter is an occupational therapist. And she is employed with the school district, but currently is on leave because she has two and a half year old twin granddaughters, my only grandchildren. And so she'll go back to work next year. So... And then I have my youngest daughter -- all of these live in Anchorage, but my youngest daughter is in Las Vegas. And she is in the hospitality industry with MGM. And --
BILL SCHNEIDER: So you're well taken care of. ELLA CRAIG: Well, I'm not so sure. But she's -- they are all married and I still live in the same home that I moved into in the '50s when I -- shortly after I came to Anchorage, in the same neighborhood. So... Section 3:
BILL SCHNEIDER: Well, very good.
ELLA CRAIG: Good experience. Actually, a great experience because along the way I've had an opportunity to, just because I'm -- I'm here and because of the experience that I have had, I've had an opportunity to be instrumental in moving a lot of things along that were well needed. And so I've enjoyed every minute of it. BILL SCHNEIDER: Well, that -- that would be my next question is what are some of the changes you've seen in the delivery of mental health services?
ELLA CRAIG: Well, see, we didn't have a mental health association. We didn't have people who were interested in the field. We sent everybody to Morningside; and then after we got Valdez [Harborview Hospital], we sent all of our kids there. And for a time we were labeling a lot of them and putting them at -- when Hope Cottages started, that started as a small facility that I helped find. The house is not too far from where I am.
And the people who started it came over to my house one night and we were talking about vacant places that might be a good place to have -- for children, and it's about two blocks over, I think, something like that. And I've seen just about all of the development of just about every community activity that -- that we have. And because of the position that I was in, was kind of a part of helping it move along. So it's been a really, really good experience for me, certainly. And as a social worker, I certainly have no complaints. The national association selected 50 social workers nationwide who have made outstanding contributions during the last century, and so they included me, and I thought that was pretty nice to put me in with all my old professors and people I had known about. They were all, you know, chair of the departments and this sort of thing, and I was one of the few practitioners who was included. So I felt that was quite an honor. So... Section 4:
BILL SCHNEIDER: Good. Good. Well, that's -- that's all the questions I have. Maybe Karen has --
KAREN BREWSTER: I always have -- I always have more questions.
You had mentioned being the only non-Native working at BIA, to go back beyond that for you, what it was like working in the Native communities when you were in Kodiak? ELLA CRAIG: Well, it was good. And I'm -- I've tried to evaluate this because I still have really, I think, good connections with the Native people in the Native communities. And a part of it I think was, number one, I'm slow. And I listen. And I don't hurry up and wait kind of thing. I had a lot of staff who were from the East Coast and New York and around big cities and what have you, they didn't do as well in the Native communities as those of us who were slower and took our time. And that sort of thing. And it worked pretty well. I had -- I was director of the Department of Social Work, but the superintendent of the agency that I worked in, I think three or four of them were all Native men. I think that -- and I do attribute a lot of it to growing up in a large family and in the South where the movement is much slower, and I think we are sometimes a little more hospitable to people and we understand that you go in, you recognize authority, and you drink your coffee, and you do all of these things that work out really well. And I -- oh, I loved to visit the villages. I had a great time. They had a disaster, they had an earthquake up in Mentasta a few years ago, and I was sent up there as a Red Cross disaster worker. And it was just great to renew acquaintances with all the people that I had worked with up there during the time that I was, you know, working in that area. So -- and I know a lot of it is the easy name, and that I was, you know, the BIA worker sort of thing, but I think a lot of it, too, is because the people know that I really do care about them and remember about them. And I have generations of them, people that -- daughters of people that I worked with or who were clients who have married and live in the states, and when they come back to Anchorage, they bring their kids by to see me. Well, they will look in the phone book, if they find my name, they will call me, you know, this kind of thing. Section 5:
And that I had one really, really neat youngster that she was one of the first teenagers that I ever had to find a placement for Outside. And she had to go to a facility down in Utah for just about everything you could think of. But I was the only person that was ever consistent in her life. I mean, her parents were dead and others were dead, what have you. And when my husband died, she saw it in the paper and she called me. And she was in the -- evidently her early 30s at this point, but she called me to see if I was okay. And she said, as she ended her conversation, she said, well, you took care of me, I just want to be sure you're all right now. And I thought, well, what a neat thing. Few social workers ever get to see successful experiences from their work. And -- or their relationships because that's really the only tool that we have, relationships. And I felt so privileged that so many of them still do that. And just recently, one of the people, Native people I had worked with, her mother died, and she called me the morning after her death and she said I just wanted you to know. And she said, will you please come to the funeral? And I said, well, of course, I would, if you'd like for me to be there. And so I did. But it's -- it's that kind of thing, I think, that makes me comfortable in the Native community. And I feel that with the experiences that I'm having now with various committees and of boards and this sort of thing, I can bring some of the Native perspective and culture to their attention of the people who need to know about it and to explore it further. So I can sort of do that from my country experience. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, because you were talking before about some of the criticism that was made against social worker -- workers and taking people out of their community.
ELLA CRAIG: Right. Uh-hum.
KAREN BREWSTER: And but how you, being part of those communities, if you had difficult moments with that kind of thing, of having to be responsible for sending some of their people away, and what that was like. ELLA CRAIG: It was very difficult because it was always difficult for me to see someone have to leave home because your parents are your parents regardless of their problems or regardless of your problems. And there is a relationship and -- a closeness there that can't be substituted. It's very difficult. I mean, it is substituted, certainly, but not at the same intensity that you have with the parent-child relationship. It's a very different kind of relationship.
And I had a youngster once tell me, he said, I know my mother and father drink too much and they could be called alcoholics. He said, but they are still my parents. And he says, I love them just the same. So I think that kind of speaks for how they see their parents if they are difficult to be with. And I certainly have witnessed that in so many relationships, and to take children from that kind of situation is difficult.
KAREN BREWSTER: Especially when you know the families and you're living in that community, I think that would be very difficult. ELLA CRAIG: It's very difficult. Uh-hum. So...
BILL SCHNEIDER: Well, thank you very much. There's certainly lots more that we could go into, but I think we -- we better close this session and --
KAREN BREWSTER: Unless there's something else that's in your head that we haven't brought out yet.
ELLA CRAIG: Oh, no. Oh, no. I think I've probably talked too much and it's been kind of rambling and what have you.
BILL SCHNEIDER: No. It's been good.
KAREN BREWSTER: No. Not at all. It's been wonderful. Okay.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yes.
Ella Craig was interviewed by Bill Schneider and Karen Brewster on November 13, 2008 at the Mental Health Trust Authority office in Anchorage, Alaska. She discusses arriving in Kodiak in 1953 from Atlanta, Georgia and her many years as a social worker for Kodiak, the Aleutian Islands, and in Anchorage. Ella assisted patients coming to and from Morningside Hospital in Oregon, and reflects on the quality of services provided to the mentally ill both at Morningside and in rural Alaska. She also discusses the changes she has seen in the delivery of mental health services over her long career, and what it was like working with the Native community. At age 89, Ella continues to serve the community. She helped start the National Association of Social Workers chapter in Alaska, she advocates for the elderly and was on the Alaska Commission on Aging, and volunteers with the Geriatric Education Center at the University of Alaska Anchorage.
Part two of this interview.Ella was also interviewed by Karen Brewster and Bill Schneider with videography by Deborah Lawton and Aaron Elterman on June 10, 2009.
Click to section:
Section 1: Her personal history and educational background.
Section 2: Working at military hospitals during World War II.
Section 3: Working for the Red Cross Disaster Service, and learning about a job opportunity in Alaska with new federal social services programs.
Section 4: Traveling from Georgia to Alaska to begin her new social work job in Kodiak.
Section 5: Arriving in Kodiak from Atlanta, Georgia not being properly prepared for the weather and living conditions.
Section 6: Use of blue tickets to remove nuisance people from a community, her first housing in Kodiak, and visiting communities on Kodiak and along the chain of Aleutian Islands.
Section 7: Social and mental health issues a social worker faced in the villages, and the difficult task of having to remove children from their family homes.
Section 8: Lack of understanding of mental health issues in Alaska, Morningside Hospital being the only available treatment option, and her experiences escorting patients to Morningside.
Section 9: Effects of removing the mentally ill, especially children, from communities and placing them at the Alaska Native Hospital in Anchorage and Morningside Hospital in Portland, Oregon.
Section 10: The low return rate of Morningside patients back to their communities, and a story from Kodiak about a woman using her discharge papers to prove she was cured.
Section 11: Lack of programs for patients returning from Morningside Hospital, and her involvement with escorting and visiting patients there.
Section 12: Dropping children off at Morningside and the transition from home to the hospital.
Section 13: Abuse of power when selecting people to be sent out to Morningside Hospital, and how patient releases were handled.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Okay. Today is November 13th, 2008, and I'm Bill Schneider. Karen Brewster is here, too.
We have the pleasure of doing an interview this morning -- or this afternoon with Ella H. Craig. And so thank you, Ella, for taking the time to do this.
What I'd like to do is start with your early history. Tell us about your parents and where you grew up, and a little bit about your background. ELLA CRAIG: Well, I grew up in Gates County in North Carolina, which is just below the Virginia border and over to the east about 100 miles from the coast. And our farm, it was on a -- raised on a farm, and it bordered on the Great Dismal Swamp. So my early childhood was fantastic. I had two brothers and two sisters, one of each older and one of each younger, so I'm the middle child. And I stayed on the farm through high school and was graduated from high school at 15. And entered college the next year at the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, and received my bachelors degree there. And immediately went into graduate school at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
And by this time, it was -- let me see. I graduated in '39, and so 1941. So I began work at the Department of Public Welfare in Durham, North Carolina. And I went into social work because at that particular time, the options were pretty limited. And in our county, we had a county welfare director, but she was getting along in age, and so I was encouraged from a community standpoint and from my family's standpoint to go into social work so that I could be the county welfare director. You know, one person. So... But it -- it was an interesting experience because I really liked the field, too, because I knew I didn't want to be a school teacher, and I didn't want to be a secretary or a nurse, and those were the only options that were open to women at that particular era. Section 2:
But then the war years came along, and so people started thinking about what they were going to do during that period of time.
Well, I had been trained as a -- I had done my field placement at Duke University Hospital, so I had had a semester in medical social work and also a semester in psychiatric social work. So the -- with the war years coming, the American Red Cross recruited me to work in military hospitals. So -- and I'm sure it was because of my background, field in medical and psychiatric social work.
So, of course, I was delighted to go from public welfare to that exciting field at that time, and at my age, I thought that would be great. So I was assigned to Camp Blanding Hospital at Camp Blanding, Florida. And this was a large military base, Army base. And I was there for, oh, I don't know exactly how long, maybe a couple, three years, and then I was transferred to the Boca Raton Air Force Hospital. And I was there for a bit. And I kept trying to receive an appointment overseas, but they had an age limit, and I wasn't quite old enough yet to go. But I finally convinced them to let me go anyway because I had had a great deal of experience by then, comparatively speaking, in the military hospitals. So they transferred me out to Camp Roberts, California, and I was there for a bit. And then I was transferred to the Philippines and I was there for, oh, a little over a year, I guess, before the war ended. And just before it ended, we started -- they started transferring me again, and you know, did the Okinawa thing, and then on up, and went into Japan with the occupation troops. So one of the few females permitted to do this. So... And then, once I got into Japan, since war was over at that time, I was sent down to Sasebo, Japan, which is on the southern tip of the island. And I was there with -- attached to the Second Marine Division, and worked in a Navy field hospital for, oh, a little over a year, I guess. And then we were kind of -- everybody was coming home and it was time to come home and everything was over, so I came back to -- and technically, we kind of wrote our own orders.
Another friend of mine who was with me on my staff, and we went down to Yokohama and joined up with the Navy and kind of hitchhiked back to Hawaii, stopping at every single little island. Johnson Island, you know, all those little tiny spots. And since we were the -- this was a military craft, of course, and Red Cross workers were -- you know, we were the bottom of the hierarchy, so we didn't get the good seats on the military planes, so I have ridden on just about every kind you can think of. Section 3:
Then when I went -- came back to the states, I went to work at Camp Lejeune Military Naval Hospital and worked there for a bit, and decided I'd better go finish my master's degree. I had all my caseload -- course work and had done the thesis, but my thesis had never been approved because I took off. And at that time, you had to be in residence at the university for two years -- I mean, two months, I'm sorry, before you received your masters. But I was working and I couldn't take two months off, so it took me awhile to get my two months that I could do that.
And in the meantime, I left the naval hospital and accepted a position with Disaster Service with the Red Cross. And I was on their national disaster staff for -- until I came to Alaska.
And I worked just about every disaster that you can think of in terms of hurricanes and tornadoes and fires and plane wrecks, train wrecks, and that sort of thing, all over the United States, although I had responsibility for the eight southeastern states and was stationed in Atlanta at that time. And that was when I got a call from my friend who had worked with me in Disaster Service and had come to Alaska a year before I had -- I did. And she called and asked me if I would like to come up, that the Bureau of Indian Affairs was setting up a social services program to be run by social workers. They had had a program previously, but it was administered by school teachers primarily, and they were the people throughout the state who were taking care of the social services needs of the Native people.
And this was during -- this -- 19 -- early 1953, and that was during the tuberculosis epidemic. And that was the reason they were expanding the services and trying to provide more care for -- because the territory at that time did not provide social services to Native people. That was a federal -- I mean, a -- it was a whole different department's responsibility. And the Interior Department had responsibility for that.
So we had to set up a dual social services department. Section 4:
BILL SCHNEIDER: Well, we're back on, and you were telling us about coming to Kodiak.
ELLA CRAIG: Yes. Well, it -- when my friend asked if I would come, I told her that I would be able to come as quickly as I finished the assignment that I was on. I was on a flood disaster in Columbia -- Columbus, Georgia, so I closed that job out, and she had sent me a Government Transportation Request. GTR.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Uh-hum. ELLA CRAIG: I had never made an application, just a telephone call to her, but I got this GTR to take a train from Atlanta to Seattle. And as I recall, this took seven days because the trains at that time were really crowded because a lot of service people were going back and forth and being discharged and this sort of thing. And it was -- I began to wonder what I was getting into and whether I had made the right decision. And whether I should have listened to my parents and stayed home. But I -- I did get to Seattle, and then I was met there by a representative of the Bureau [of Indian Affairs], and he took me to the airport in Seattle and I got on another plane and went to Juneau. And the airports and the planes, of course, in those days were not anywhere near what they are today. And so I got to Juneau and I stayed there about, oh, it must have been six weeks or maybe a little more, just for training orientation, getting to know the people, and sort of discussing what I was going to be doing, this kind of thing. Section 5:
Then they sent me off to Kodiak. And as I mentioned earlier, when she had called me, she just assumed I had a lot more information about Alaska than I did. I knew it was cold and I knew it rained, and particularly rained a lot in Juneau and a lot in Kodiak. Those two things I knew. But for a person who had, at that time, never had a pair of slacks, never had a pair of jeans -- I'll take it back. I did have slacks when I was with the Army -- I mean, the Air Force and the Army, but they were part of my uniform. They were not my clothes, so to speak.
So I arrived in Kodiak. But before I went to Kodiak, I went to my favorite department stores in Atlanta and I got myself outfitted in what I thought would be appropriate dress for a businesswoman in a small town. And I remember so well that I got a beautiful raincoat, and it was black on the outside and bright yellow on the inside. Not reversible, but you know, you could see all this bright yellow. And I had an umbrella that matched. Little did I know at that time that no one in Kodiak uses an umbrella. So anyway, I learned the hard way. And I was staying with the Public Health nurse in Kodiak, they had one at that particular time. And we had to walk -- and I had a little room in her office, the Public Health building, and we had to walk about seven and a half blocks to get to her office. So one morning it was raining, and so I wandered down these seven and a half blocks in my raincoat and my umbrella, and it was -- the wind was such that, you know, first of all, the umbrella just goes scoop, you know, and so I have no umbrella. Then I go, scrunch up and trying to get...
And then I found out years and years later that people in town thought this was just absolutely hilarious that anybody, number one, would have an umbrella in Kodiak. And so people would -- the bars stayed open all night back then, and there was 17 bars that you had to pass on those seven blocks to get to the office.
So it was a small enough town that everybody knew anybody who was new in town, you know, so nobody mentioned anything to me to change my behavior and activities, because they had board streets, you know. And in Atlanta, we wore very high heels. And so my heels would get stuck in the -- in the cracks.
And so by this I knew that we were being observed by a lot of people. And I would try to get my, you know, heel from the sidewalk, but that didn't work very well. So I had some interesting experiences. Of course, I met my husband in Kodiak, so I learned a lot of the feelings from the community from him afterwards. So that's why I mention that.
But Kodiak was a really unique experience because they had, first of all, had never had a social worker there. So they weren't quite sure what we were supposed to do. And they have a lot of need for a social worker because the alcoholism was such a great factor, and of course, hand in hand, a lot of mental health problems also. Section 6:
But the city had a mayor and they had a marshal, the U.S. Marshal was the police force, so to speak. They had one -- I think one policeman, but the U.S. Marshal had the authority because it was still a territory back in those days.
And he absolutely loved picking people up. And whether anybody admits it a lot up in Alaska now, we used a lot of blue tickets. KAREN BREWSTER: What are blue tickets?
ELLA CRAIG: Blue tickets, if a person is a nuisance in the community and you don't want them to stay, you give them a ticket, a one-way ticket out of town. So there was a lot of that in Alaska.
I've heard a lot of people say they don't remember anything about this and don't know about it, but they didn't live around the U.S. Marshal that I knew because there was a lot of that. And they just -- from community to community. And then, of course, they would make trouble there and they would give them a ticket back. So they weren't always out.
But the community had found me -- the mayor had found me a place to live. And I moved into that place maybe about a month after I was in Kodiak. And it was a one-room board and batten, unpainted facility, with a wood block, a stump for the doorstep in. Which was very difficult to maneuver with my high heels.
But anyway, it had a light bulb on top and a window box for the refrigerator. And you kept all of your cold things out in the window box. And then it had an oil stove for heat and cooking. And the shower had been built onto the house out of tin. It was just a little box that they had kind of built on and had a spigot up top and that was the shower.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Outside?
ELLA CRAIG: Outside. But they had cut a hole in the wall and you could go into it from the inside. But that was where I lived for about a year. Well, maybe not quite a year, maybe nine months. But it was very expensive, comparatively speaking, because housing was absolutely very difficult to find. And until they built some housing projects there, it was very difficult for anyone to find a place to live. So... BILL SCHNEIDER: And how about the work? How about the work?
ELLA CRAIG: The work? Well, as soon as people found out I was there, of course, and I was a social worker, first of all, there was a curiosity, so you had an opportunity to explain to people what you did.
And then the Public Health nurse, and there was one other nurse in town who was retired and just kind of did everything for everybody, a wonderful person, and the nurses at the hospital. So they had a little understanding of what a nurse -- I mean, a social worker did.
And we worked very closely with the Public Health nurses and they would refer people to us that needed that. And the Public Health nurses made home visits and village visits and that sort of thing. And of course, I not only had the Village of Kodiak as my assignment, I had all of the islands and the Aleutian Chain. So -- and I had to visit a certain number of times per year. And that was by float plane or by mail boat or the little planes. So I did a lot of flying. BILL SCHNEIDER: In difficult weather?
ELLA CRAIG: In very difficult weather. And made several trips up and down the Chain on the mail boat, which was another whole experience.
I mean, they also had a health boat and I used that some, but it was a health boat for the whole area, so that didn't come into Kodiak that often, but when it did, I would sometimes catch a ride up to some of the villages. But it took awhile for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, apparently, to figure out that to get to the Aleutian Chain on a regularly scheduled flight of Reeve Airlines, I had to come from Kodiak to Anchorage and then go. Well, that was pretty expensive as well as time consuming. So they decided that I needed to be stationed in Anchorage and we could well combine the two areas. So that was why I left Kodiak because the -- they combined the two offices then. But – Section 7:
BILL SCHNEIDER: What were some of the issues you addressed?
ELLA CRAIG: The issues primarily at that time were family problems, primarily, but the main problem that initially took most of my time was the -- everybody had tuberculosis, and they needed to be hospitalized. And this was not just the Native population, the non-Native population was also afflicted. And when they were -- when the parents were hospitalized, all of the adults and the relatives who could care for all of the children were also hospitalized. So we had to find homes and places for the children to go, the ones who were still not needing hospitalization. So much of my time was spent in child welfare issues trying to find homes for kids, picking kids up and placing them, taking care of the things in the village; when you took kids from the village, explaining why. And sometimes -- there was one kid, sometimes -- I think the largest family I ever placed, the mother and father both had tuberculosis, grandparents had tuberculosis, and all the relatives in the village had tuberculosis. There were 14 children, one had tuberculosis, so there were 13 children that we had to find homes for. Now, there were a lot of missions and institutions for children, but I had some problems with a lot of those because I was a federal employee, and religion was a part of their program. And if you're paying for their care in a facility, you can't force people to pray or to participate or to become a part of your denomination. And this was a very difficult thing because while we had a number of those in Alaska, they were all religiously associated.
So we tried to depend first on relatives, which you always do, but then to find Native foster homes, which was practically impossible because the high incidence of tuberculosis. So then we had to reach out and place some in non-Native homes. But when there was a child, say, on the Aleutian Chain, you couldn't have a youngster fly by themselves, so either I had to find an escort for them or I had to get them myself. So I spent a lot of time escorting kids. And which was not always easy, particularly in some of the weather conditions we had. BILL SCHNEIDER: It must have been very hard on the kids, too.
ELLA CRAIG: Oh, it was terrible on the kids. It was very, very difficult for the kids.
BILL SCHNEIDER: A tragic period.
ELLA CRAIG: Because I think a lot of people have criticized the agencies a great deal for, quotes, taking the children out of the village, but you have to have been there and you have to know what the circumstances were at that time, and to know that was the absolute last choice, and it wasn't done that way, but so many people remember it as that. And sometimes it's real difficult to listen to some of the conversations of some of the people who are now maybe 40 and 50 and what have you, and even some of their remembrances as a child.
Because communication was very difficult. They didn't have telephones, maybe they had one telephone in the villages. And you had to go through so many people to get a message to people. But it -- it wasn't like you go in and sweep up the kids and take them out. It didn't happen that way. But most people think it does.
But it was -- it was a difficult time for not only the children but for the families because in the process of all of this, the first Public Health Service Hospital was being built in Anchorage over on Third Street. And this was before we had a Public Health Service in Alaska. We had nurses but we didn't have the administrative hierarchy.
And that hospital was built by the Bureau of Indian Affairs initially, the Public Health Service Hospital as we know it.
So after I came to Kodiak -- I mean, to Anchorage from Kodiak, I spent a fair amount of time working there, as well as with the Bureau [of Indian Affairs] because we were all working with the same patients, the same cliental. Section 8:
BILL SCHNEIDER: Okay. Well, then, let's -- let's move to some of the mental health issues that you faced.
ELLA CRAIG: Well, first of all, I think the majority of officials didn't recognize mental health problems, or mental health as an issue in any way, because we had very little in the way of organizations who were concerned with mental health. All this, of course, was before we had the first psychiatrist in Alaska. And then he was a man of vision, and very smart, and he had two social workers on his staff from almost the beginning, which was very helpful to those of us who were in the helping field. And as you found a person that you knew was a danger to themselves or to someone else, the only place they could receive any treatment, of course, was Morningside.
And that was a judicial procedure. And the person had to appear before a judge who declared them incompetent to manage their own affairs, regardless of their age or what have you. And sometimes these -- I can remember one procedure that was held in jail, and the judge went down to jail and talked to the young man and said, yeah, he needs to go to Morningside. I think he was 14. And we just -- you knew what was going to happen.
And they did have a beautiful facility and they had good care, but they were in Oregon. They weren't near any of their parents or any other people except some people that might come down from Alaska.
So it was -- it was difficult until we got a few people, a few agency people and then a few community people who were concerned about mental health issues, primarily I think because they had family members who needed care and weren't getting the kind of care that they knew they needed. So... BILL SCHNEIDER: I think you had mentioned that you escorted some people to Morningside?
ELLA CRAIG: Oh, yes. Uh-huh. Frequently. I went down with them, and it was always an interesting experience.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Why is that?
ELLA CRAIG: Well, I had one young man that he really didn't need to be in Morningside, he could have done very well in a small facility, in a group home or what have you, but there was no alternative for him. So we go down, and he was very loud talking and very -- just loved to visit with you and things. So we were sitting there, and so I said to him, I said, "Now, you -- you stay right here, I am going to go back to the back for a minute."
And he said, "Well, can I go with you?" And I said, "No, you have to stay here." And finally I said to him, "I am going to the bathroom." And so in this loud voice on this plane full of people, he says, "Mrs. Craig, you've got to go pee?"
So there was just dead silence on the plane as you can well imagine. And I mean, that was just kind of the funnier side, but it was one of the kinds of things that you would put up with as you -- and then you never knew exactly what was going to happen, regardless of where you might be. Section 9:
BILL SCHNEIDER: How did this -- how did this play out in terms of the patients? Can you describe how they dealt with leaving their community and how the communities dealt with it.
ELLA CRAIG: The communities were very protective of their own until they absolutely got to the point that the teachers in the schools felt that they couldn't stay there any longer. I honestly believe the parents would have cared for them to the best of their ability regardless, but the teachers were concerned about it primarily. And they would convince -- be the first people to convince the parents or the community that they needed to seek help somewhere else. But there was sort of a double thing there because first of all, they wanted them away from the community because they were concerned about the danger to other people. But -- and they were truly seeking help for them also.
But parents, it was very difficult for the parents to understand. I mean, hospital they understood. And they didn't understand why they had to leave Alaska, particularly once they got the Native Hospital. Why can't they stay there? Or why can't they go there. It was very difficult. And you had to spend -- you couldn't just go in on a plane and pick them up and leave, that kind of thing, you had to spend a lot of time talking with them and having them understand what was going to happen. And the worst part about it was sometimes the kids were brought into the hospital and the person who would bring them in would not -- they would know them by a different name, and they would sometimes be admitted to the hospital without an appropriate name or their real name. And this was particularly true of Eskimos because they had a different way of -- they sometimes used the first name, last name, reverse it. And so you would call -- the parents might contact the hospital, or ask somebody to contact the hospital to see how the kid was doing, and the hospital administration would say, there's nobody here by that name. So the parent would not know what had ever happened to their kid. And I can remember only one instant, but this is a true story and did happen. A child was in the hospital for years and years and years under a different name than her own and was told that she was no longer there. Nobody knew where she was. And this was not just a few years, this was a lot of years. And they finally discovered that -- what her real name was, and what have you. And then it was when this happened, and we found out about it, we tried to -- "we" being the Bureau of Indian Affairs social workers, we tried to reunite this youngster with their family, and it couldn't happen. I mean, she didn't know who they were and they didn't know who she was. And this was a really, really tragic situation. And the only way we found out about it and what her name was because someone decided they wanted to adopt this child.
BILL SCHNEIDER: From Morningside?
ELLA CRAIG: No, this one was at -- just at the hospital.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Oh, I see.
ELLA CRAIG: She hadn't been sent to Morningside. And they wanted to adopt her. And they tried to adopt her and couldn't find a birth certificate. And then we did some checking with the priest and various and sundry people, and the memories came back as to who she really was and why she was in the hospital, and her poor parents had been just like every time they had a chance inquiring about how she was, and they were told she wasn't there. And it was a very -- BILL SCHNEIDER: How did that -- how did parents handle, though, their children going to Morningside?
ELLA CRAIG: They were accepting of it, not emotionally, I'm sure, but they gave lip service to accepting it because they were convinced by the authorities that this was the appropriate procedure for them. BILL SCHNEIDER: And how often did they have any contact at all with them?
ELLA CRAIG: They didn't until they were ready to come home.
BILL SCHNEIDER: And how often did they come home?
ELLA CRAIG: They didn't come home for visits at all, only when they were discharged. As being well, able to come home. BILL SCHNEIDER: And -- and what was the record of healing and coming home?
ELLA CRAIG: Not that great because the adjustment after a period of time was not good.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Adjustment to Oregon?
ELLA CRAIG: To the -- to the -- from Oregon back to the village. And without any supervision or continued treatment or follow-up, maybe once a year that the Public Health nurse could provide, even medication management or anything of that sort couldn't be done that well. So the adjustment was really not that good. Section 10:
BILL SCHNEIDER: One of the themes that we've heard before was that when people went to Morningside, that most never came back.
ELLA CRAIG: Very few came back. Very few. And if they did, they were labeled so -- because this was one of the things they loved to do was to label people, give them a diagnosis and that was it for the rest of their life, kind of thing. BILL SCHNEIDER: And when people came back, then they had to justify that they were healed.
ELLA CRAIG: Well, uh-hum.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Do you have some cases of that?
ELLA CRAIG: I had -- I think I mentioned to Karen the one down in Kodiak, the lady that was sent to Morningside primarily because -- I mean, she had a problem with alcohol and that was it. And of course, the treatment for alcoholism was unheard of at that particular time, and so we didn't talk about it or think about it.
But she was kind of a nuisance in the community, and the marshal didn't care for her. So he decided she was going to Morningside. And it was difficult to get a judge, commissioner, what have you, to declare her incompetent and send her to Morningside. So I -- she had really neat kids and I really liked her very much. I spent a lot of time with her.
So we went in the grocery store one night down in Kodiak, and she had been home maybe a week or so, and was greeting people and was doing fine. And she was standing in the grocery line waiting to be checked out and she started talking loudly. Well, you would because everybody's chattering at the same time, and you know, grocery store and what have you.
And so the owner of the store was managing the cash register, and so he yelled at her to be quiet. And she says, "What do you mean, be quiet?" She said, "I'm just talking."
And so then he started talking to her, and said, "Oh, well, you're crazy anyway, you know, so what can I expect." And she really reacted and she says, "I'm not crazy." She said, "I have papers to prove it. Do you?" And she pulled out her discharge letter from the hospital and read it to him.
And in the letter there was something about being cured and ready to return home, I've forgotten how it was worded at the moment, but it very distinctly said what she thought it said. And he was absolutely livid. He was furious with her. So from a community standpoint, he didn't do well.
BILL SCHNEIDER: From a community standpoint?
ELLA CRAIG: He didn't do very well. She got the sympathy, from the community's standpoint.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Oh, that's good. Section 11:
What sort of programs were in place when people came back?
ELLA CRAIG: Back in those days, none. Just whatever follow-up the Public Health nurse for the area or social worker could serve. We usually were notified that they were returning, and we would make an effort to contact them and offer services if they needed to come in and talk with us and that sort of thing, but that was a limited number of people, really. Because the majority, as you say, didn't come back. BILL SCHNEIDER: Were there cases where members of the community went down to visit there?
ELLA CRAIG: I think some of their parents did. The Native people, of course, most didn't. I can't remember any of the people that I knew who were there having anyone visit them, except me. BILL SCHNEIDER: And you would visit them when you would be doing --
ELLA CRAIG: When I was -- when I would bring someone else down, I would always visit everybody from Alaska. And then when I was in the area for any other reason, some of my people that I had known, youngsters, teenagers primarily, I would go by and see them because I thought that was important. Yeah. BILL SCHNEIDER: And they remembered you and --
ELLA CRAIG: I beg your pardon?
BILL SCHNEIDER: Did they remember you?
ELLA CRAIG: Oh, yeah. Uh-hum. Well, I think primarily because I was a constant in their life. Most of your professional workers would come and stay a year or stay two years and then they were gone, but I came and stayed. And so that made a difference to people. And the other thing is that I had a short name, and they could remember Ella Craig. I mean, it was one word, as far as they were concerned. And the adults would call me Ella Craig. The children, of course, were all -- it was always Mrs. Craig, and until we got to the point that everybody called everybody, you know, by their first name. But it was some interesting times. BILL SCHNEIDER: What can you tell us based on your observations of those trips about the care at Morningside?
ELLA CRAIG: I had visited and worked in some facilities in the states during some of my disaster experience and otherwise, so I was somewhat familiar with the kind of services that were offered in institutional settings. And I would say that Morningside was easily comparable to anything I had seen previously, so I would have to assume that the care was good at that particular time.
And that -- and certainly I never talked with anyone who was there, of the youngsters particularly, the younger group, that wasn't perfectly okay with being there. And I mean, you know, the usual things, the food, the people, and what have you, but they would rather be in Alaska. Those were the kinds of comments that you would get. BILL SCHNEIDER: What sort of social service support did those youngsters have from Morningside?
ELLA CRAIG: They had support staff. I don't know if they called them aides or if they actually had -- I know in later years they had social workers, but I don't recall when I took my first youngster down whether they had a social worker or not. But I know they had support staff and aides and this sort of bit. Section 12:
BILL SCHNEIDER: And then just a very basic question. Were there certain steps that you made with a youngster when you dropped them off? Did you stay with them for a day or two or how did you make that transition as a social worker?
ELLA CRAIG: No. I would be met by -- if they had a social worker, by a social worker usually, or a member of the staff, a nurse in whose unit it was going to be, or sometimes the doctors. And we would spend time with the patient and myself, or I would spend time with the employee, usually both. But it wasn't a long period of time.
And I didn't spend as much time as one would hope that a family member or someone who is making a transition as we know it today would spend. No. It was very hurried. KAREN BREWSTER: So was it a few hours? Was it a day?
ELLA CRAIG: I'd say a couple of hours. Uh-hum. Yeah.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Before we go on to the rest of your career, Karen, do you want to ask any more questions about this period?
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, we've been talking about a lot about the children and taking the children to Morningside. Did you have experience with adults at Morningside?
ELLA CRAIG: Well, I took my favorite person in Kodiak there in town. And I was involved in placement of several of the adults, but I don't recall -- I think she was the only adult that I actually escorted down. I can't recall others.
KAREN BREWSTER: That leads to my follow-up, which is about the placement. So you were involved with recommending adults and children to be taken to Morningside? ELLA CRAIG: I was a part of a group that would do that. Uh-hum. Yes.
KAREN BREWSTER: If you could talk a little bit about what that process was.
ELLA CRAIG: It was -- usually they were referred by -- if they had been hospitalized, it would be the doctor or staff at the hospital. And otherwise, it would be Public Health nurse in the field or the school teachers or a minister or a nun, or just the recognized leaders in the community. Once in awhile we would get information from the administration of the villages. I mean, the council presidents and this sort of thing, but not very often. And a lot of the time we were able to resolve that without moving anybody from the village. Because just going out and talking with them and assessing the whole situation, you would know that it wasn't a person from -- that needed to go to Morningside. But we had an awful lot of missionaries that were in the various areas, and they would make a lot of recommendations, of course, that had to be evaluated. You did a regular assessment and then asked for a psychiatric evaluation once we got a psychiatrist.
BILL SCHNEIDER: But that was a while coming?
ELLA CRAIG: That was quite awhile coming. Yes. Section 13:
BILL SCHNEIDER: What about abuse of power in the community? As with respect to Morningside and sending people out.
ELLA CRAIG: I think probably, without question, there was abuse of power because I think people like our marshal did down in Kodiak, I think people used Morningside as a place to send -- send an undesirable person, and an undesirable person doesn't necessarily have to be mentally ill to a lot of people. And that was what I saw happening a lot in Kodiak. KAREN BREWSTER: Was there any way -- for that case, somebody who was labeled undesirable or maybe was not in need of actually being in Morningside, was there a way for them to get themselves out and returning?
ELLA CRAIG: They didn't -- I mean Morningside, in my opinion, in what experience I had, was reasonably good about moving them through the system and not keeping them unnecessarily long periods of time. But those were just the ones that I knew about.
And I know there have been others that just kind of stayed and, you know. And maybe they didn't have a place to come back to or maybe they didn't have contacts that could be made to plan for them to come back. Because, you see, you were involved in the whole bit of transportation and where they are going to stay and when they are traveling. BILL SCHNEIDER: So how would that be handled in the early years? If somebody -- if Morningside determined that somebody was healthy enough to return home, where would the money come for their travel and how would that be initiated?
ELLA CRAIG: If there were people that we had been involved with sending, they first, of course, contacted the health authorities, which was the Public Health nurse. If they were Native, they would usually contact me and say they needed to come back and -- or were ready to come back, and we would authorize the transportation for them.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Oh.
ELLA CRAIG: This was for Native people. And I assume the Territory did the same for the non-Natives who were there.
BILL SCHNEIDER: We're going to stop for a minute and change the tape and then we'll get on to the rest of your career.
Tom Hawkins was interviewed by Karen Brewster and Bill Schneider with videography by Deborah Lawton and Aaron Elterman of KUAC radio/tv, Fairbanks on June 10, 2009 at the Marriot Hotel in Anchorage, Alaska. He has worked as a land manager for the federal government, the State of Alaska, and Alaska Native corporations. He was an original member of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority board of trustees formed in 1994 and served until April, 2009. He also chaired their resource management committee for many years. In this interview, Tom discusses dealing with the land aspects of the mental health trust settlement when he worked for the State of Alaska, Department of Natural Resources, assessing the trust reconstitution, and his role as a trustee with the Mental Health Trust Authority.
Click to section:
Section 1: His personal background, education, military service, and coming to Alaska and getting involved with land related jobs.
Section 2: Employment in Alaskan land management.
Section 3: Working for the Federal State Land Use Planning Commission and the State of Alaska, Department of Land and Water Management.
Section 4: Dealing with the mental health trust lawsuit while working for the State of Alaska, Department of Natural Resources.
Section 5: Working for Jim Gottstein on reconstituting the mental health trust lands.
Section 6: Becoming a trustee on the Mental Health Trust Authority Board and what the board has accomplished for improving Alaska's mental health system.
Section 7: Working in public service jobs, and the effects of the mental health trust lawsuit on the delivery of mental health services.
Section 8: Getting appointed as a trustee of the Mental Health Trust Authority.
Section 9: The legal battle between the State of Alaska and the federal government over navigable waters.
Section 10: His response to public criticism of the State of Alaska's land disposal process during the mental health trust settlement.
Section 11: Complications in the process of determining land value and the appraisal system used in the mental health trust settlement.
Section 12: Working on the mental health trust lands settlement, and becoming involved with the Mental Health Trust Authority Board of Trustees.
Section 13: Duties and responsibilities of the Mental Health Trust Authority Board of Trustees.
Section 14: His personal contributions to the Mental Health Trust Authority Board of Trustees.
Section 15: How he became interested in land management as a career.
Section 16: Some complicated land management decisions he worked on at the State of Alaska, Department of Natural Resources.
Section 17: Relationship of Native corporation land selections to the Mental Health Trust land settlement.
Section 18: The reasons for the Mental Health Trust lawsuit related to the re-designation of land and not providing funding in exchange.
Section 19: Final thoughts on why the lawsuit happened and why the Alaska State Legislature acted the way it did.
KAREN BREWSTER: I'm Karen Brewster, and I'm here in Anchorage with Tom Hawkins. Today is June 10th, 2010 [SIC]. And also joining us is Bill Schneider, and Deb Lawton and Aaron Elterman from KUAC are doing the videography for this interview.
Tom, thank you for joining us to talk about Mental Health Trust issues. So to get us started, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself, when and where you were born, growing up, your family background. TOM HAWKINS: I grew up in Western Washington in a little town named Lake Stevens, and went to school in Walla Walla, Washington, went to college. And then got drafted. Spent some time in Southeast Asia, which was a pretty instructive time because I worked with artillery, and knowing where you are is real critical. So maps, which I'd always been kind of fond of, sort of played a role in my -- in my military service. Not by their design, but it just turned out that I was good at figuring out exactly where I was because I was afraid of blowing myself up if I didn't. And I came back to graduate school after the Army and spent -- primarily, graduate school paid better than most of the jobs I was initially able to get because of the GI Bill. And so since going to school was the one thing my mother approved of that took the least effort, I was very determined to use all 48 months of credit that I'd earned from my service. Since they didn't really pay you to go to Vietnam, they paid you afterwards if you came back, and I tried to take advantage of that.
I ended up coming to Alaska in the 1970s. And my first job was with the Corps of Engineers, and my masters degree eventually came from the University of Alaska in Public Administration, although when I was a student there, there wasn't really a UAA, it was primarily done in other school buildings around the city. And we all sat in tiny desks at Wendler Junior High for some classes, and went out to the military base for others.
But the program was particularly good for me because it was primarily adjunct professors, and so they all had sort of day jobs and were teaching because of love or whatever, but it was easier to relate to somebody who was a labor lawyer during the day and a labor lawyer teacher in the evening. And so I enjoyed that quite a bit. I worked a year for the Corps of Engineers, I worked a year for the Department of Natural Resources back in the early days, in the land management division. And then I saw this advertisement when I was walking one day at lunchtime where they would train you to be a land law examiner, which, when I read the description, turned out to be not much different than what I was actually doing at the state, but I was called a water resources assistant. And basically, you adjudicate people's claims for land based on a set of rules that apply to that particular set of land. But what was nifty about the BLM job was it started out with public land law training in Phoenix, Arizona, in the winter. And it struck me that even as a short-time Alaskan at the time that going to Phoenix for three months in October, November, and December was a pretty good deal. So I decided, even though it didn't pay better, it looked like it started out with some history about public land law. And in fact, the class turned out to be quite a bit of fun because we went back to the acquisition of the public domain, the Gadsden Purchase and the Louisiana Purchase, and how we acquired all of the country's land, including Seward's Icebox, and then traced forward the disposal of that land under the variety of programs that were administered by the BLM. What we were being trained to do was to adjudicate applications filed by Alaska's Native corporations and by the State of Alaska. And so at BLM, I was a land law examiner adjudicator, and basically processed applications for lands selections. And unfortunately, the Bureau of Land Management in the early 1970s had kind of gotten out of the business of disposing of land. In fact, the Federal Government really hadn't been doing it wholesale since the early 1900s. And so to be hired to be an expert at giving out what turned out to be close to 150 million acres of land really didn't set well with the majority of the folks in the Bureau. And so even if you were good at it, you weren't necessarily appreciated because the pie that they would eventually manage was shrinking in big chunks, thereby dwindling from like almost 300 million acres down to something in the 70, 80 million acres category. And so the adjudicators weren't sought out for lunchtime dates because we were in the business of putting the management folks at the agency out of business, or at least minimizing the business. Section 2:
I spent a number of years at BLM, but was sort of intrigued by the thought of working for a Native corporation, and I saw an advertisement for a position in Dillingham for the village corporation there named Choggiung Limited. And Choggiung [Curyung] is a Yup'ik word that means Place Where the Water Gets Salty. And if you're familiar with Dillingham, it's right -- two rivers flow together, the Wood River and the Nushagak River, and dump into Bristol Bay, and eventually into the Pacific Ocean. And so I traveled out to Dillingham, and you know, the folks there were friendly and a lot of fun, but unlike most people who get together, $8 million and 300,000 acres of land, they weren't altogether clear what they were going to do with it. And although the original board was primarily small business folks, it was sort of the initial admonition of the job was we don't know what it is you do but here's the place we've got for you to do it. And I spent about six years working for the Choggiungs, but there was a little gap in the middle, and then that little gap, I worked for the Federal State Land Use Planning Commission. And that was a pretty interesting opportunity to see things on a bigger scale because the Planning Commission was making advice to the Congress as to which lands should be reserved for parks and refuges, and that came about in the 1981 to '80 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. And so that was pretty fun to work because they were putting together a lot of studies where other minerals were and where other values were, and you got to look at sort of all of Alaska, and so I enjoyed that. Section 3:
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. We're back.
TOM HAWKINS: All right.
KAREN BREWSTER: So we had you working at the State Land Use Planning Commission, and what exactly were you doing for them? TOM HAWKINS: Everybody was an analyst, I was a land use analyst, but primarily, I was there because of my experience with the Native corporations, and one of the charges of the Planning Commission besides advising Congress on the D-2 legislation was to advise Congress on how well the Claims Act was unrolling, particularly how well the agencies were doing conveying land to the Natives. And theoretically, it was supposed to be a sudden and abrupt conveyance, but it's a pretty complicated process to move 150 million acres from one side of the box to the other. And the Native corporations even in the State of Alaska didn't really have the sophistication that would have facilitated a faster process. So a lot of us hoped that it would be done before we retired, but in fact, my Native corporation that I eventually worked for in Bristol Bay is somewhere in the 95 percentile in terms of amount of land actually received. And so, you know, it's sort of we're down to half the distance to the goal line now, we'll probably never quite get there. An interesting twist on this is I just attended the signing ceremony for the millionth acre. The millionth acre has finally been conveyed from the Federal Government to the State of Alaska/Trust Land Office. And -- or Mental Health Trust. And that's 56, you know, count the years, that's a long process to -- and that's just a million acres. With the State of Alaska, it's over 100 million acres; with the Natives it's over 40 million acres. And so if you're looking for job security, this is obviously a place that you can start out young and still be at it a good time later. When I was at the land use Planning Commission, I had the fortune of working for Walt Parker and Esther Wunnicke, and Esther Wunnicke was the federal co-chairman, Mr. Parker was the state co-chairman, and so the federal co-chairman was appointed by the Secretary of Interior, the state co-chairman by the Governor. And they were very knowledgeable folks to work for. Planning Commission itself had, you know, 16 or 20 commissioners, and they were sort of dredged from Alaska's land history. And so there was a lot of names that you'd seen on applications before and people who had been involved in the process of the conveyance process, and so it was -- you know, it was kind of a nifty place to work. And unfortunately, it had a statutory life, and so it went out of business as -- as planned. And I returned to Dillingham for a while, but then I got a call from Esther Wunnicke inviting me to work for her at the Department of Natural Resources. And she had a number of ideas, but I told her I'd really like to work for the Division of Land, which became the Division of Land and Water Management, and then it became the Division of Mining Land and Water, and it's been -- but basically, it's the land division. And so I got to be its director for the time that Esther was the commissioner.
KAREN BREWSTER: And what years were that -- was that?
TOM HAWKINS: That's a tough question to ask. I would say '83 to '87, '88. But almost one of the first things that happened to me when I took the position as the director was I was deposed by the lawyer, then lawyer Steve Cowper, who was representing the Weiss family, et al., in the mental health litigation. Section 4:
And I had been on the job for -- well, it was like weeks when Mr. Cowper showed up, and it was kind of a shock because it made it -- it sort of made me feel like DNR had been up to something untoward in its administration of the land, and I felt kind of bad about it. And I later spent some time figuring out that although special lands like university lands and mental health lands were a pretty small part of the state's portfolio, they were segregated and they were accounted for separately. And there was -- the Department of Natural Resources, you know, people understood that there was a different kind of land than the general grant land that people took the 103 million acres, or 104 and a half, or depending on how you count it. And I was, I don't know, kind of taken aback that we had done something badly to folks who would be beneficiaries of this particular program. And particularly because my both kids are in Special Ed, one for one reason, one for another reason, but all the way through school, as -- as a parent, you know, there was an extra set of papers and an extra set of things to go through with the teacher and the counselor because of their Special Ed status. And so, you know, when I got to looking at it, it turned out that the redesignation of the lands had actually been performed by the legislature in 1978, and so it had actually been around for a few years, and there was kind of a deal cut by the legislature, and that was that the Mental Health Trust would receive a percentage of all the state's mineral ref -- royalties in lieu of the direct royalties from the million acres that they had selected. If you think about it, what a bargain it would have been to be reaching into the bag of, like, almost 300 million acres of land and getting to pick the first million.
And sure, there were lands withdrawn for national parks already, and there were lands withdrawn for the military, but when it came right down to it, you were making the first serious nongovernmental land selections. And I -- I've always been envious of the folks who got to do that first million acres because, you know, they talk about high grading, well, this is the opportunity for high grading when you get to go pick around Alaska and take neat stuff. Pick up -- and of course, they went to economic centers and they selected the land around an awful lot of towns. The land that was available around towns. And they put together a pretty impressive portfolio. So I've always been envious of that as a land person to not have been in on that original selection. But I spent, well, I don't know, I think it was just about a decade with the mental health litigation, and it drug on and on. And I think my advice to my supervisors was always you're paying both sides in a lawsuit, and both sides are your side, so it doesn't really matter who wins. You can't win this lawsuit, even though the legislature redesignated the lands and you have to -- you know, I mean, we ought to -- we ought to -- we ought to craft a settlement, we ought to get done with this. But settlements, both sides have to give up something. And no one wants to settle because then you didn't get the whole banana, and nobody's really that connected to the real facts of the situation, and so everyone says, oh, they settled. It sounds like, you know, you cheated or something. But, in fact, that's eventually what came about. And I was actually one time in Fairbanks in Judge Green's courtroom and foolishly said that I would walk back to the motel after we had -- I had testified. And it was February in Fairbanks, and it was a -- my suit coat was thick, but my pants weren't, and when I got back, I was patting and rubbing because I thought, jeez, people live here. Section 5:
But -- and so it then became the process of reconstituting the Trust. And my time at DNR ended with settlement of that and some other lawsuits. I had been retained sort of past my political appointment status just because I was knowledgeable about some of the things that had happened during my time, but in '92, I left DNR, and oddly enough, the job I found was working for Jim Gottstein, who was sort of a successor to Cowper in the litigation, and I was kind of the land man for the beginning of the reconstitution of the Trust. And it was an interesting process because the whole story had been divided into you started out with original Trust lands, you had a million acres of original Trust lands, and that was OTL. And before long we were calling them the OTL's [OT-TELS]. And then you had the potential substitute lands, the state created a bunch of zones of land that people could select from, and -- or the Trust could select from, and potential substitute lands, PSL, became PSL's [PIZZELS]. And then there were the lands that weren't going to be returned. The lands that had been somehow in that short amount of time conveyed to boroughs, to Native corporations and to other people who were eager to have lands of those particular values, and those were called NRTL's [NERTELS], not returned trust lands. Section 6:
And so in the end, they put together a package of land, but I only worked for Mr. Gottstein for a short period of time when Bristol Bay Native Corporation advertised for a general manager or a business manager, and when I got to the interviews, there were three finalists. And the job was originally described as chief executive officer, and somewhere along the interview process they changed it to chief operating officer.
And two of my competitors wanted to be a CEO, they didn't want to be a COO, and so they dropped out. And so I was the only one left standing. And it turned out to be kind of fun because I had worked with a lot of these folks earlier when I worked with the village corporation, and so I went to work for Bristol Bay and I worked there for about 16 years before I finally retired. But during that time, I was a trustee, and I was one of the original trustees and spent two five-year terms and one four-year non-term working for -- as -- as a member of the trustee council or the trustee group. And it was -- it was very interesting. I -- my primary expertise was, of course, in the land management side, and I spent most of my energy overseeing the resource management committee, and I was its chairman for -- well, that stretch. And the original trustees were selected, some because of their mental health program experience, some because of their money management experience, and myself because of the resource management background. And so it was a pretty collegial group of long-time Alaskans who pretty much ceded authority over, well, he's good at that, so if that's what Mr. Younker thinks we ought to do in terms of investment management, then that's probably right. Oh, and she's good at that, so if Evelyn Tucker thinks that the -- the service delivery system needs attention, I mean, that probably makes sense. And as the resource manager, and I was kind of pleased with those early years as a lot of people get 200 million dollars and a million acres of land, and we weren't much different than those village corporations that I worked for earlier, we don't know what it is you do but here's what we've got for you to do. And the place where you should do it. So it was fortunate we had the Permanent Fund managing the money, we had the expertise of the Department of Natural Resources to assist us in the land management or the resource management side, and it all worked itself out pretty -- pretty well. We also had plenty of help from the Department of Health and Social Services on the program side, sort of what it was really all about, the rest being kind of the facilitation of what it was we were supposed to do, which was help the beneficiaries of the Trust. Originally, through its land resource activities and its money management, the state had about -- or the Trust had about, oh, 10, 11 million dollars to spend, and primarily, it used it in ways to promote progress or change in the state's delivery system. And over the years, the amount of money available grew, and I think when I left, it was somewhere in the mid 20s. And so a collection of agencies and other nonprofit programs offered budget ideas and the Trust looked for ones that seemed innovative, seemed short term, and looked like they might generally improve things. Some of the big ones in the beginning were like the closing of Harborview [Hospital in Valdez], which was a big step for the state to bring folks closer to where they were from. And simple stuff like having that kind of service available to women in the prison system where the State of Alaska had provided for mental health services for their male prison population, but not for women. And the Trust working with the legislature and working with the administration was able to provide the seed money to make that kind of change. And a variety of things, maybe of smaller consequence, but all thought to be ways to improve the system. Section 7:
And for a land manager, a resource manager in Alaska, it was kind of fun to operate again on a pretty detailed scale, and to be able to see who you were benefitting more clearly, sort of like working for a village corporation, mine had, like, 1100 shareholders. And you kind of knew who you were providing benefits to. Our regional corporation had about 8,000 shareholders, so when you declared a dividend, you knew that it was going to those 8,000 people.
When you worked for the State of Alaska, it's harder to figure out exactly what your public wants. And I did dozens, probably hundreds of public meetings in my decade of service at DNR, and I remember kind of more -- most clearly meetings in Talkeetna and Homer as places where the folks from the agencies were really there to be sponges for audience abuse, and the crowd was there, maybe 10 percent of the people in the crowd liked what you were proposing, 10 percent of the people in the crowd hated what you were proposing, the 80 percent of the people in the crowd would kind of lean one way or the other depending on which group was speaking. But it was always tumultuous, and a couple of times I thought, wow, do -- is this fun? And then you realize these people are passionate about the same thing I'm passionate about, that I've sort of built my career around, and yeah, it is fun. It comes out funny, it comes out kind of strange sometimes in public settings, but still it's kind of worth the while if you're going to be a public manager of any sort to expose yourself to the publics that you're serving and kind of gauge their reaction to what you're doing and whether you're doing it well or not well. So those were -- it was a fun time at the Department of Natural Resources. But it was, I think, easier from a who-do-you-serve standpoint to work for the village and the regional corporation because the population of folks that you're actually benefitting is smaller, and the Mental Health Trust is -- is similar to that. The legislature has not been mean to folks who require benefits of a mental health nature. The state has always had a mental health program, and the spending from the Trust is, you know, really kind of a pittance in the overall picture of services provided to folks. And so, I mean, perhaps in the time of the redesignation the legislature didn't move quickly to recognize and dedicate that 2 percent royalty because they were already spending over $100 million in services that could be categorized as associated with mental health, and particularly because the litigation expanded mental health services to a variety of -- of beneficiary groups, kind of a broader variety than kind of meets the first blush of people's definition of -- of mental health. And so, you know, I don't think the redesignation was an ill act on the part of the legislature, I just don't think that there was the follow-through that made people think that this, in fact, was special, it deserved special attention, and it had been special, it had been sort of pre-Statehood, and it deserved to be carefully managed and done well. And I think under the current management regime, which the legislature, of course, endorsed, that that is -- that that's happening. I mean, the state continues to have a healthy budget for activities of -- of this nature, and then the Trust is able to offer additional opportunities to improve the system. It was fun in those early years trying to figure out, okay, you've got this money, you've got this revenue coming in, you've got this land base, what kind of program do you want to promote, and change improvement in the program seemed to be what struck the original trustees as the logical thing to be about. And so I think that's still kind of what motivates the Trust. It's had the same executive director throughout its history, and a very thoughtful and motivated character who has done a real good job of blending the various -- the administration and the legislature, the trustees, the various programs together and to try to promote innovation and make things better for the folks involved. Section 8:
KAREN BREWSTER: I wanted to take us back a little bit to your work at DNR.
TOM HAWKINS: Governor Knowles appointed me to a four-year term, which was my second term, and I felt bad about that because you get to be -- I mean, a trustee term is five years.
KAREN BREWSTER: So why did you only get four years?
TOM HAWKINS: Well, that's what I wondered, but I didn't want to say anything because I got four years, so, I mean, why -- why complain. But I just thought, well, that's not fair. But it turns out that a four-year term doesn't count as a term. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I was going to ask you, you said it was a non-term, like how can you have a non-term?
TOM HAWKINS: Well, this is -- this is something that only people in Juneau at night can figure out, but for some reason, if you don't serve a whole term, it's not a term at all. So Governor Murkowski appointed me to my second real term, and that's why I ended up being a trustee longer than the statute says you can.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. Because you did -- your second one didn't count? TOM HAWKINS: Right.
KAREN BREWSTER: That's weird.
TOM HAWKINS: Yeah, that is totally weird.
KAREN BREWSTER: Did somebody just -- was there a typo that they put four instead of five years?
TOM HAWKINS: No. Somebody -- when I was sort of muttering about it quietly, somebody said, oh, don't complain. It makes you eligible to be appointed to a second term.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. TOM HAWKINS: And since the politics in Alaska go from left to right, or right to left, from time to time, being reappointed isn't, you know, necessarily a sure thing.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right. But in your non-term, you were still a reg --
TOM HAWKINS: I was still a --
KAREN BREWSTER: -- considered a regular --
TOM HAWKINS: -- considered a --
KAREN BREWSTER: -- considered a regular member. That's weird. BILL SCHNEIDER: Just one small question. Were you paid as trustees to do all that long work?
KAREN BREWSTER: Are trustees paid, do you mean?
BILL SCHNEIDER: Are trustees paid?
TOM HAWKINS: Yeah, trustees are compensated. They get up to $200 a day. And they break it into 50s. So if you made a meeting, which are usually over in about an hour and a half, you get 50 bucks. KAREN BREWSTER: So I wanted to know more about the work you did with the Department of Natural Resources when you worked with Esther [Wunnicke]. What exactly did you do there? TOM HAWKINS: Well, I was director of the Division of Lands. And I think there was a Division of Water when I first came, but they were collapsing state government, so it became the Division of Land and Water. And I think they've collapsed it further down as the Division of Mining, Land and Water.
KAREN BREWSTER: So yeah, what did you do related to mental health? Like how did you get involved with the mental health side of things? TOM HAWKINS: Well, State of Alaska manages, you know, 105 million acres of land, 1 million acres of which is mental health land. And so I was one of the land managers for the state, resource managers for the state, and you know, on a day-to-day basis, we made decisions on whether or not people qualified for benefits, benefits outlined by the legislature, in statute and then interpreted through regulations, and people apply for things and we decided whether or not they've met the qualifications or the criteria for earning that benefit. Section 9:
So we administered water programs, we administered land sales programs, land disposal programs. Kind of general land management programs. And then some advocacy programs where we did a long series of litigations with the Federal Government over what constitutes navigable waters, because navigability means a lot of things, but one thing it means is the bed of the navigable water body belongs to the state. And the state tried a variety of different avenues to get the maximum definition of navigability because there hadn't been a lot of navigability determinations in Alaska.
The Federal Government was kind of content to stop with the Yukon and the Kuskokwim and call it good. The state thought lakes were navigable, all kinds of rivers were navigable, and so what the state crafted was a series of what were called criteria cases, realizing that they couldn't afford to fight an entire litigation over every body of water in Alaska, they decided instead to fight a case that would include a whole bunch of other water bodies if the criteria in that particular case was deemed to be navigable. And one of the big ones was the Matanuska River and its commercial use by guide operators, because kind of navigability turns on travel, trade, and commerce. And even though the Matanuska doesn't lend itself to steamships and that kind of travel and trade, it does attract a lot of people who want to float it for recreation purposes. And that was one of the state's big wins from a standpoint of establishing recreation use as a criteria that established navigability. One of the state's big losses had to do with lakes, and kind of like how small a lake constitutes navigable. Well, the state picked a test lake called, unfortunately, Slop Bucket Lake, which is a tiny lake just off of Lake Iliamna, and a lot of floatplane operators landed there because Lake Iliamna, being a great big lake, was often too rough for people to land on floatplanes, so people would land on Slop Bucket, which was, you know, a hop and a jump from the big lake. And the state argued that through the courts, and was not successful. The courts said, well, it's not a continuous, you're kind of hopping from lake to lake. And so that did away with 25-acre lakes they could land a floatplane on, but there's still argument amongst the State and Federal Government on how big does a lake have to be before it gets to be navigable. And finally, because the Natives were coming along and the Federal Government was making the Natives take the bottoms of lakes or rivers that the state thought was -- were navigable and the state's process of adjudicating or of litigating was kind of slow moving, and so people were -- you know, all of a sudden a Native corporation in Bristol Bay is forced to select the bed of a -- of a river the state considers navigable. Well, 20 years later when the state establishes its navigability through the litigation process, the Natives will be stuck with the acreage. Except for they won't own it. But they won't have an entitlement left to select it, so they were going to die essentially in the hole because the process of deciding navigability was slower than the process of adjudicating selections. And so the Federal and State Government Native corporations kind of sat down and said, hey, let's -- let's come up with a category called "We'll Fight About It When It's Important." So all these contested water bodies, with the blessing of Congress, were taken off the -- the books in terms of conveyancing. Section 10:
KAREN BREWSTER: One of the criticisms against the State DNR office during the whole lawsuit and settlement period and reselection that took so long, and their accusations that the state was purposely dragging its feet and all that. You worked at DNR. Will you talk about that from your perspective. TOM HAWKINS: Yeah, I don't think the state was purposely dragging its feet. I mean, the process of adjudicating applications for land, and particularly to reconstitute a trust, it's a pretty complex business. And if you think in 1956 the first million acres was selected by the state land officers, and it was 2009 when that millionth acre was actually conveyed, to get an idea, it's a -- it's a slow process. And it's not like people were being mean about it, it's just that, number one, it's not BLM's highest priority; number two, it's complicated stuff. And particularly as time passes and there's overlaying -- when I was working for Jim Gottstein, there was a case where the Alaska Railroad claimed that -- that their easement attached to preceded, the Trust could take that title, but it was subject to this easement. Well, in fact, the Trust made a selection of that land before the easement was granted. And -- but in order to do that, you go through a case file that is inches thick looking for the dates of those activities and when they occurred. Land management is a complicated business, and there are -- I don't believe was ever a conscious or a stated effort at DNR to do things slowly, regardless of which side of the program I worked on. People did the best job they could. You know, the problem with having 100 plus million acres is it needs a lot of folks to administer it in any kind of aggressive fashion. And the legislature, you know, is -- is happy that we have resource revenues coming from state lands that pretty much float our budget, but you know, they are less eager to fund positions in the agencies to actually manage and adjudicate those applications that people are filing for this, that, and the other. Section 11:
KAREN BREWSTER: Right. I know that, too, there was back and forth about valuing the land between, you know, the beneficiary groups' interests and the state interests about how land got valued in order to decide how to reconstitute. Wasn't that a bit controversial? TOM HAWKINS: That was very controversial. And there were -- appraising is hard work, and when you're facing, what, 8,000 parcels stretched from Southern Alaska to the Interior, that takes, you know, sort of more expertise than you can kind of find in any one particular appraiser. And eventually, a system was worked out whereby a committee of appraisers was appointed, the folks from all sides getting to weigh in on it, and a panel of appraisers looked at the parcels and comparative sales and things kind of sorted themselves out. But you know, my -- my house is worth way more to me than what you would give me for it, and that's not different about a piece of land. And when we're talking about a million acres sprinkled around Alaska in all kinds of valuable places, and when you're talking about resources that, okay, this land is valuable for gold, well, how do you say, yeah, this is mineralized terrain, it's likely that if you worked here, you might find that mineral. But without expending, you know, literally millions of dollars in drill holes, you're not going to really know what that particular land is worth. For instance, there's a recent press release out about the Trust lands in Livengood that have been under exploration for years and years and years and years, and finally a company has, you know, pieced together enough information that they are sort of positive about the gold that's deposited there. And its ease of development. But -- so how do you value that? Particularly when you're doing your valuing way before the discovery is made. You can't get every piece of mineralized terrain as though the -- the greatest mine in the world is going to be built there someday. You can't discount. So there's a lot of reasons to be angry. And if you're already kind of disappointed or upset about how things have gone, and you want to focus on something, the valuation process is probably as good as any to focus on because it is real complicated and real difficult. And, you know, people make jokes about appraisers all the time. And I think it's a tough science, and they do their best, and you know, I'm bothered by the fact that people are upset about it, but I think the effort was made to develop a system that was the fairest that could be developed. I know a lot of land exchange ideas come up from time to time. Well, we'll give you this chunk of land for that chunk of land. And so the chunk of land that you have is pretty easily valued because it was in downtown Anchorage. The chunk of land that the other guy has is more difficult to value because it's 5,000 acres in the upper watershed of the Eklutna River. But that upper watershed is located in, you know, a state park. And so it's -- it's attractive acreage for the public, it's attractive acreage for the owner, and so you come up with the idea of the land exchange. Well, you can't win a land exchange. Land exchanges have to come out even, or fairly close to even. And so a lot of them fall by the wayside because everybody expects to win. In other words, I'm going to get way more out of this exchange than you are. That's never going to happen. And those all kind of turn on appraisals. And so the effort by the state to design an appraisal system where the both sides get to nominate appraisers to be on the panel, I thought was really kind of good rather than going with one appraiser familiar with that area, or a different appraiser familiar with that area, put together appraisers that are satisfactory to both sides and that have expertise in both the land characteristics. And that Eklutna former state office building site in downtown Anchorage exchange happened, and the values came out somewhere in the 7, $8 million range, but it was real complicated. So, you know, valuation is a touchy subject and, you know, you're never going to satisfy everybody. It's like those meetings in Homer, Talkeetna, you know, 80 percent of the people are going to be dissatisfied, but the agency folks are trying their hardest to do it in a fair way. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, and the reconstitution process sort of valuation was the crux of it, it was a bit of a land exchange situation on some of those lands.
TOM HAWKINS: Oh, it was. It was valued for land. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
TOM HAWKINS: I mean, you've got selection rights. But just even that, the audit of the mental health lands, the lands selections started while I worked at DNR. And the Bureau of Land Management provided two people and the State of Alaska provided two folks, and they spent -- or maybe a folk and a half, and they spent a year. And in the end, after auditing all the case files, all the selection case files, they determined that the state was still owed 9,000 acres out of the million.
And so at the time, you know, I was pleased with the result, we had something both the feds and the state agreed to, and you know, we kind of -- but imagine doing 100 million acres. And now we're not talking about value, we're just talking about did the state get the acreage that it was due. And I mean, if it takes four people one year to do an audit of 1 million acres, how many people for how many years to do 100 million? So land management seems kind of simple, but in fact, there's a lot of intricacies. And I -- whether I'm in them or outside of them, am only, you know, highly respectful of the state resource managers and even federal resource managers that do as good a job as can be done with the equipment available to do it. Section 12:
KAREN BREWSTER: So with the work you did for Gottstein, what exactly was it that you were doing?
TOM HAWKINS: Looking over land files, studying the lands that were available, the potential substitute lands, the lands that wouldn't be retained to the Trust, wouldn't be returned to the Trust. And in the shorthand, the PSL's, the NRTL's, and the OTL's. KAREN BREWSTER: And so that would be so the beneficiary groups would have something to bring to the table? What was the purpose of that work, I guess?
TOM HAWKINS: Well, the purpose was that in the settlement, they had to craft a package of lands or a package of land selection opportunities that were sufficiently attractive that the parties would be done. And I think of the original million, about 400 and some thousand had zipped out of state ownership because of the redesignation, and the primary beneficiary of that were boroughs. Boroughs were, you know, kind of new players and they all received entitlements, and all of a sudden you had an entitlement, but there wasn't any land available in your borough that had any value, and oh, look who's got it, it's the state but it's not really the state, what can we do about it. And that's what, you know, led to the redesignation so that those lands would be available. And it didn't work out, you know, or it took awhile for it to work out. KAREN BREWSTER: Let's go back to these. How did you initially get involved with that and appointed to that?
TOM HAWKINS: The office -- the Office of Boards and Commissions prepares lists of people, and the Governor's Office makes appointments based on -- in the particular case of the Mental Health Trust, they had wanted everybody to have some kind of program sensitivity, but they were looking for people also who had money management experience and land management, resource management experience besides program or service delivery experience.
And so those particular sets of attributes were spelled out, I think, in the settlement, and the first set of trustees was put together with those conditions in mind. And I sort of got the resource management seat and the early chairmanship of the resource management committee, which gets to listen to the Trust land office presentation and make recommendations to the trustees if it's a big deal, or make decisions itself if it's a smaller scale transaction. But those rules didn't develop immediately, those rules weren't the rules out of the box, it was rules that were sort of adapted over time to make sense, you know, sort of less than $50,000 land value transaction can be left up to the three or four members of the resource management commission, or committee, whereas a bigger deal would have to go to all the trustees. But yeah, the -- the original trustees, it was fun. You know, it's always fun to be working on a new project. And we all thought of ourselves as long-time Alaskans and wondered what the other guy was good for, and it turned out all the other guys, the women and men involved, were really smart about this, that, or the other. And the trustees that came over time were all expert in program or had some personal connection. You know, there was a pretty caring body in terms of recognizing that it was dealing with a segment of society that was, you know, sometimes difficult to fashion appropriate services for. And so people were thoughtful and sensitive and a lot of former commissioners and you know, people who had been active and involved in state stuff for a long time had service as trustees. Former legislators had service as trustees. So pretty thoughtful, pretty thoughtful group. Section 13:
KAREN BREWSTER: I was sort of wondering what types of decisions did the board make early on. You sort of mentioned Harborview was a project and that they have to make decisions about if a parcel of land is going to be sold off. And what other kinds of things did they do? TOM HAWKINS: Well, those are the primary decisions. You've got a budget, you've got a certain amount of money, and you have people applying for blocks of funding for various programs, and you try to make sure that your funding decisions are serving some kind of larger purpose because all of the proposals deserve funding. And so, you know, you have a list of 60 and you can only do 20, so you have to pick the 20 that seem to accomplish the things you're seeking. You know, improvements in the program and, you know, tests of different approaches and -- and so there's a variety of stuff on the program side. The land management decisions are probably -- or the resource management decisions are probably easier to make because the briefings are thorough, the appraisals are current, there's not as much mystery involved, and they wouldn't have gotten to bringing it to you for your approval if, you know, a committee of the board hadn't already said, yeah, that makes sense, let's move that forward. So generally, on the resource management issues, the trustees, you know, depend a lot on the professional assistance of the Trust Land Office and other agencies, like the Department of Natural Resources. But you know, it seemed to -- you know, just spending 12 million bucks, even though it's not that big when you're splitting it up into a lot of 50 and 60 and 90,000 dollar programs, there's a lot of decision making that goes into that. And it's -- it always seemed to be pretty tense at those meetings. Land management stuff didn't seem to draw as large an ire of the audience or the participants as -- as mental health and particularly as the budget capability grew, you know, all of a sudden you find yourself funding something in year 7 of what you thought was going to be a 3 year project, and you go, hold it, this is year 7 of 3, that doesn't make any sense. This was an experiment that either didn't work or the legislature should have taken it over by now.
You know, if this is a service that makes sense, then this should be -- should be a general fund kind of thing rather than something for innovation and kind of a test bed of new ideas. So it seemed complicated to me. Some trustee meetings were a couple of days, usually. We held one in Juneau each year during the legislative session, and go around and talk to legislators a little bit, and we held one in Fairbanks every year. The majority of the meetings were in Anchorage. During the early days of the Trust, we traveled around the state, a couple of trustees and a few staff members, and just said, hey, this is what's happened in terms of the Trust settlement, here's what's going to happen in the future, this is what you ought to -- you know, and hold public meetings and answer questions. And that was pretty interesting. A fellow showed up at one meeting wearing a hand-tooled leather tie, and it was belt leather, it was a heavy-duty looking tie. And it had BIA on it. So I'm looking at this guy and I'm thinking BIA, huh. My BIA is the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and that's who, when I see BIA, I think of. Well, his BIA was Brain Injury Association. And you know, at the break, I went up to him and said, hey, why are you wearing a BIA tie? Trying to figure out the connection that I thought. And it turned out he was an advocate to add people with closed head injuries to the beneficiary list so that they could also benefit from the mental health programs, although they weren't part of the original litigation. So that's -- you know, that's kind of interesting thinking. Section 14:
KAREN BREWSTER: I'm interested in what you would consider some of your contributions that you've made that you're the most proud of on the board of trustees. TOM HAWKINS: Well, I think it's fun to be in on the beginning of the lawsuit, be part of its settlement, and be part of what came as a result of that settlement. The litigation started in early '80s, my term as a trustee ended in 2009, so you know, that's quite a commitment of energy and interest and effort to, kind of, one small project. But you know, so many projects are so large when you work for the State of Alaska that you don't really sense the -- the benefit that you're providing. And with this, you could kind of see it, you could see the litigation, you could see the settlement, you could see the beginning of the Trust, you could see the beneficiaries and how they got to participate in the Trust meetings and how the various beneficiary agencies and groups were able to avail themselves to the funding stream. And actually, you know, promote some positive improvements in the delivery of those services in Alaska.
And so, you know, even though it took, you know, 25, 28 years, 26 years, still, you know, it's a race that you were involved with that ended, or ended on a better note than when you started. So I'm pleased to have been a participant, but I, you know, didn't play any particularly large role, I was just sort of there, fortunately, for a long section of it, and because I got to work on it from different angles from different players, that's, you know, kind of a bonus to get to be involved in something for that long, even if you change your hats a few times along the way. That's one of the neat things about being a land manager in Alaska is that after a career, you've worked for the state, you've worked for the Feds, you've worked for a village corporation, you've worked for a regional corporation, you kind of have a sense of the attitudes of each of those landowners and, you know, kind of what they were like to work with and, oh, I'm dealing with a person from the state. Well, that comes with a certain set of attitudes and beliefs, just like dealing with a person from the Federal Government. That comes with a certain set of attitudes and beliefs.
And if you've sort of held them all earnestly along the way, you can appreciate the other guy's point of view a little better because, yeah, I remember when I had that hat on. He's wrong now, but I remember when he was right. It's just -- it's sort of fun to sort of see all those perspectives on -- on your life's passion, which is managing resources in a way that benefits the public. Section 15:
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. You just talked about your passion for land management, and one of my questions was what is it about land and land management that got you interested in doing it in the first place and kept you excited about it? TOM HAWKINS: Well, I was a history major in college, and because of [Boy] Scouting and a variety of things, primarily maybe my grandfather gave us a National Geographic subscription when I was little, and every month a new map would come, and I am a map junkie. I've always enjoyed maps and trying to understand maps, and trying to figure out things from maps. And -- and so to be stumbling through early career choices and finding an agency that pays people to, you know, write decisions to adjudicate benefits, in this case land benefits, and it's all about maps and real estate, what a fine marriage of, you know, what you kind of like to do and the fact that, oh, look, there's somebody that pays you to do it. And then being sent off to that federal school in Phoenix. You know, three months of -- of watching the acquisition of the public domain kind of nationally, and then how the various disposal programs worked. How the 1872 Mining Law came about, and is still about, you know, that's -- that struck me as a nice blend between my map jones and my history background, and I was pleased to find there were paying jobs for it. And you know, generally they, as you get older, let you do less of what you enjoy and make you manage other people who enjoy doing what you used to enjoy. And that happened to me, bit by bit I worked my way up to the heads of state agency, and finally a regional Native corporation. My CEO for 16 years, fellow who lived in Dillingham, was also the chairman and the president, we talked on the phone for about an hour each week, usually on Thursdays. And the fact that the other two guys didn't want the interference of a CEO who I found the guy to be completely supportive and thoughtful. And it's kind of like being a division director and you've got these section chiefs who are actually, who know what they are doing, you don't want to second-guess their -- their decisions, their product, you want to figure out how to create a fear-free environment for them to operate as crisply and cleanly as they possibly can, and fight for budgets so that they can have the opportunity to put folks to work to accomplish -- when you've got 100 million acres, the State of Alaska, every drawer has all kinds of applications that haven't been adjudicated yet. It's -- there's just -- there's too many programs and too many places and it's just real hard. Section 16:
I was involved in one program when I first went to work at DNR that was called Tideland Preference Rights, and this is actually a clever scheme by the packers, and what they convinced the Congress was that Alaska shouldn't be a state unless they gave previously improved tidelands to the people who had improved them. And theoretically, the Federal Government is keeping the tide lands in trust for the state from -- from mean high water to three miles out, but in fact, all kinds of people have been building stuff on the tidelands in Alaska for a long time. And so the State of Alaska, as part of Statehood, agreed to Tideland Preference Rights. And so if you had substantial permanent improvements on the tidelands at Statehood, you got the land underneath your improvements. And sufficient land around them to, you know, protect and maintain your improvements. And that was a case that -- you know, a set of cases, and there weren't that many, there was, you know, hundreds of people that applied for this right, and I worked on them for a year when I was at DNR, or a couple years, and then I went away. And when I came back to DNR, I asked about them and I said, well, what's the deal on Tideland Preference Rights? Well, they are down to about 20. Because I -- you know, we're in the 1980s now, and the -- and I said, boy, it would really be fun to finish this while I was the division director. You know, to actually get done with one of these programs. And most of them the remaining ones were in Southeast Alaska, and so we, you know, kind of made a big deal out of trying to -- and actually, the staff -- because of something I said, I said something sarcastically like, well, we'd like them to get their land before they die. And so they put together a song when they were conveying the last parcel of tideland preference right land that that was the hook in the -- in the song as it went along, we hope you get your land before you die. But you know, these are -- these aren't mean people that are adjudicating these claims, they are under-resourced, for sure, and it's complicated and kind of challenging work. And it's kind of fun to figure out. They are puzzles. One program I administered had to do with shore fish releases, so you could have the exclusive right to have a set net at a particular site, and it would be a site that you used. Well, all of a sudden over across the inlet, there were 12 applications for 10 sites. And everybody had a fishing history. Well, if you went back in time, and you looked at cannery fish tickets for the past 20 years, you could figure out which fisherman had used them the most, but not every fisherman used them every year. And you know, if nobody was there, you could fish it. Well, now that you're going to a shore fishery lease, it was going to be your lease. Section 17:
(Break in audio.)
KAREN BREWSTER: -- discussion on -- in these interviews is the relationship with the Native corporations and their land selections and the Mental Health Trust land selections and land issues. I don't know if that's something you might be able to talk about, how that worked or didn't work. TOM HAWKINS: Well, Native corporations were allowed to select a certain amount of previously selected state land, or land that the state had selected previously. And I think it was up to, like, maybe three townships, but it was not land the state had taken title to, it was land that the state had selected. And so the kind of interaction between the Native corporation and the state, you know, you'd have blue on your map for the State of Alaska lands, selected lands, and you'd have the box in which the village corporation would be able to select, and there'd be some of that blue inside the box which was the 9 townships withdrawn around each town that constituted the selection area. And so some land that the state had selected ended up going to village corporations. I think it probably was not a real big issue. For one, the State of Alaska wanted the Claims Settlement Act passed. The State of Alaska wanted the land freeze lifted, they wanted to get on with it, and like everybody had a deal, the state had to put something up, and putting up part of land that it had previously selected seemed, you know, within the -- within the bounds of reason. I think the 1978 redesignation might have benefitted some of the communities or some of the village corporations or regional corporations that were closer to the built up areas where the state had selections, and they were probably part of the energy pushing the legislature to adopt that legislation. I haven't really done the research on that, and I think it would be interesting, I really kind of think what came about in 1978 would be a good paper because the executers, you know, kind of the, okay, you've got a new law, you've got a new program, you've got to operate like this, there's not a lot of thought in what went into it. I think it would be fun to kind of figure out the machinations. Section 18:
BILL SCHNEIDER: You said that you were -- you were feeling bad when -- when Cowper came in with the -- with the Weiss case, and so it raises the question, here's -- here you're a guy that's been on all sides of this thing. How could the state not have seen this coming? How could they have let the Trust lands go? TOM HAWKINS: Well, I think that the legislature was earnest in its promise to fund the Trust 2 percent of all royalty income. I mean, I think that was an earnest part of the equation deal. BILL SCHNEIDER: But it obviously was against the law, wasn't it?
TOM HAWKINS: No, I didn't think it was against the law.
BILL SCHNEIDER: I mean, if the law said that these were lands that were Trust lands --
TOM HAWKINS: Well, I think it became against the law because the -- the 2 percent was never appropriated. But I don't think the idea of substituting money for land is alien to the law. BILL SCHNEIDER: Oh, okay. So maybe you -- maybe you need to educate me a bit on this. So Cowper's lawsuit was -- was not -- not that the state had -- had given away this land per se, but that they hadn't provided the compensation? TOM HAWKINS: Well, that was the -- that's what the state hadn't done was provide the compensation. But the litigation was about the land because obviously, if you had this really valuable land, you'd be generating revenues that would be available for programs. But it really came down to the fact that the legislature hadn't made -- now, it wasn't that the legislature wasn't spending money on Mental Health Trust programs, it's just that nobody had made that designation or appropriation of a royalty stream to the Trust in lieu of the lands that had been taken from them by the redesignation. And so if you're attacking the disestablishment of a trust, you go after its main asset, which were its lands. And that's what the argument was about, where are the lands, where did they go, who had them, who got them. I just -- I felt bad because I hadn't been a party to the redesignation that had happened in 1978. Section 19:
As I was about to say in answer to Karen's earlier question, I was living out in Dillingham. And in Dillingham, you know, fish are kind of what the story's about. And we kind of even missed the pipeline. You know, it was just not really all that high on what people were doing. And the fact that the legislature had redesignated that really hadn't struck any chords. And so to be brand new on a job where you're, you know, kind of swimming in fast waters and feeling kind of anxious, and all of a sudden a guy you've heard of shows up and he's suing the state and it turns out the state in this case is the Department of Natural Resources for -- you know, which is essentially the 1978 redesignation and its results, huh. You know, one, I didn't feel like I had done that. And number two, I thought it was a bad thing that had I been party, I would have advised against it because, you know, that -- the Trust lands were a big deal to the state, and even though they were a small part of the overall portfolio that I managed in my year and a half working for the state initially, they were a different color on the map. School lands, Trust lands. School lands, you know, they got surveyed sections, and boy, you think, oh, cool. You get Section 16 and 36, or 16 and 32 and every township in Alaska. Well, the trip we were there was surveyed. And so what seems like a big deal, like you know, 1,280 acres, in what's really thousands of townships isn't really that big a deal because there's not that many townships, because the township doesn't really exist until somebody drives some stakes in the corners. BILL SCHNEIDER: Okay. That was -- that was my question, yeah. Yeah.
Well, thank you for taking the time to do this.
TOM HAWKINS: Well, I enjoyed it.
BILL SCHNEIDER: And you certainly have had a career that's been in all aspects and all sides of the issue. TOM HAWKINS: Well, I think if you work Alaska land, you get to -- particularly if every 5 or 10 years you work for a different agency or boss, you -- you get to see things from a lot of sides, and you know, when you're carrying or wearing that hat, you believe that's the true thing.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Uh-hum. TOM HAWKINS: And then later, it's kind of fun to see, you know, folks come in who -- whose hat you recognize, and whose views you recognize as having once held, but not -- you know, the whole idea that the agency was mean just never really gained purchase with me. I can understand that there was a -- and I can kind of understand the legislature, hey, we're spending $100 million there already, they are getting their 2 percent, even though we're not giving them the 2 percent, you know, like formally with an appropriation, we're spending that -- at least that amount in services, you know, you can imagine that kind of justification being attractive to a legislator who's had a bunch of people pounding on him to do this and now there's a new set of people pounding on him to do that, and the "do this" kind of made sense when it -- when it was offered up, and the "do that" makes sense today. So, you know, it's unfortunate that it took so long. And I just don't think that you ever win suing yourself. And particularly when you're paying both sides. Because the truth of the matter is the original million acres was more valuable than the reconstituted million acres.
BILL SCHNEIDER: How should it have been done differently, then?
TOM HAWKINS: Well -- BILL SCHNEIDER: I mean, if there hadn't been a suit, what other means?
TOM HAWKINS: Well, there was no other way short of litigation with the statute change.
Now, there could have been pressure for the appropriation, but I think the legislature would have always come to the conclusion that the they were spending 100 million over here and yeah, that should be 300 million or 500 million over here, we're doing what we should. And you can kind of get past that. I mean, I couldn't get past that but I could imagine how you can get past that.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Okay. We better let you off the hot seat.
TOM HAWKINS: Okay.
Section 1: Costs of providing mental health care and the state's idea of charging families for it.
Section 2: Patient anxiety about leaving Morningside Hospital, and development of community mental health centers as providers of local mental health services.
Section 3: Beginnings of the Mental Health Trust and the land selection process.
Section 4: Management and mis-management of the mental health trust lands and revenue by the State of Alaska.
Section 5: Land selection issues related to the mental health trust, and legislative action taken to remedy the land and funds issues.
Section 6: Appropriation of the mental health trust and university lands by the State of Alaska in exchange for an annual appropriation, and the legislation and actions that led to the mental health trust lawsuit.
Section 7: Legality of the State's land appropriation, the lawsuit settlement, and issues related to funding of programs.
Section 8: Procedures followed for committing large groups of people to Morningside for criminal or mental health reasons, and an explanation of the phrase, “He's missed too many boats.”
Section 9: The transfer of patients after the closure of Morningside Hospital, and conflicts over the building of a state hospital in Salem, Oregon.
DICK BRANTON: And so one of the -- one of the issues was -- that people that were mentally ill and those people that were developmentally disabled passed -- got a law passed that they, their estate, or whether it was financially responsible, could be charged up to $50 a month for the state care that was happening. And that was a -- with Harborview people, when we got ready to move them back, that was, like, wow, you know, yeah, we can -- you can leave your child in Harborview if you want to, I mean, in Baby Haven Acres, or whatever, but the state's going to charge you $50 a month. And you know, way back then, that was a fair piece of change, it wasn't a lot of money. To the best of my knowledge, we didn't charge very many people. There were a few that we did. And the same thing was true if you had a family member who -- who was just a nuisance, you know, but didn't really need to be hospitalized, I mean, put them -- got them in the API, or had -- had been in Harborview and all and didn't want to play the game of getting them back to the South -- from the South 48 and all, we could charge you for it. And that was a real incentive in terms of bringing people back from the Outside was the idea that we could charge them for the care. And although there were very few cases that we ever really pursued that, I can remember a couple of very affluent families that were, I think, abusing the mental health system, and so we said, hey, you know, we're going to collect this money. And then when we had an ongoing record at API, used to keep a running tally of the costs that were involved for patients. And the legislature got very interested in that, of the tens of millions of dollars worth of hospital care costs that we had, but money -- money was always an issue about, you know, trying to operate the hospital and who got mental ill healthcare. Let's say, the private -- especially the mental healthcare program, the private sector would provide care for the mentally ill until they ran out of money and their insurance company. Most healthcare insurances, until recent years, didn't cover mental illness, so -- so we'd end up with the poor and the otherwise untreated. BILL SCHNEIDER: You mentioned that some people didn't want to return from Morningside.
DICK BRANTON: Yes. And --
BILL SCHNEIDER: What was the story there? DICK BRANTON: Well, they had been there, that was their home, they had lived there for years. And you know, they were -- they were people -- remember, Morningside was a privately operated facility, and it's like today, the -- I don't want to get involved in that, but you know, these prison beds for hire, owned by private facilities, they are always interested in a -- the highest class of prisoner they can get, those that require the least amount of -- of care and all. Well, you know, you had people who were doing well on their meds and about all you had to do was make sure they took their meds every day, and were residents of Harborview, and these people, you know, they just got up in the morning and read the newspaper, and I guess later probably had early TV and those kinds of things, and they -- they were excluded from society because they were, quote, crazy, and they had a pretty good life, and Harborview was getting paid, and -- and they were providing minimal, quote, hospital care, they were providing basically three hots and a cot for these people. So Harborview liked these people because they were nice patients to take care of and these people liked Harborview because they had a good life down there.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, you mean Morningside?
DICK BRANTON: Or Morningside. Yeah, Morningside. Excuse me. Yeah.
So they weren't too anxious to leave, that's where they'd been and it was I'll scratch your back and you scratch mine. I'll be a good patient and you'll get paid. Section 2:
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah, I don't want to put words in your mouth but were there sources of anxiety on their part about leaving Morningside?
DICK BRANTON: Oh, yeah. You know, there's bound to be. You know, if -- if you are in a treatment program and -- and you've been determined to be mentally ill, and the chronic mental illness, depression or whatever, and so all of a sudden your world's going to be turned upside down, you're going to -- you know, maybe these people didn't even remember what Alaska was like, and -- or maybe they came out of one of the villages. You know, they -- they had lots of anxiety about coming back.
And of course, they -- in many ways, they had to go through a re-hospitalization process because they came back and they -- we went through all their medical records and why -- why was this treatment plan being followed, and is this the treatment plan they should have, and do they still need a treatment plan like this, so -- so they went through really an extensive readmission process. And then as the community mental health centers began to develop, these people were coming back and being screened out of API and then being returned back to their communities for the community mental health center programs to pick up the slack. And that -- that program has been in many ways successful. It's a two-sided sword, in that some of the community mental health center programs, and they -- they were grant funded by the state, and the state, of course, received federal money, so between the state and the federal money, the community mental health center programs, you know, had their grant funding, and -- and it wasn't -- it was employment for the community, so there was an incentive there to have an operation. And again, they liked to patient shop. So every now and then you have to go through the community mental health center programs and make sure that there aren't very needy patients who are not receiving care in the community, and patients that really are not in need of a high level of care that are getting a very high level of care because they are nice patients to handle and they are easy to deal with. So there's a tendency to pick and choose who the patients are. And those that are really needy that don't get care and treated in mental health centers, the community health centers just run them right through right quick and say, oh, this is beyond our capacity and then send them to API. BILL SCHNEIDER: How did that program get started, community mental health program?
DICK BRANTON: It was a federal -- federal mandated program.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Were there people here in Alaska that were pushing for that? DICK BRANTON: Yeah. There was federal money to provide care for the mentally ill. And -- and that was about the same time as the concept of mainlining or mainstreaming the developmentally disabled, get them out of the institutions, get them in the residential programs in the community. And you know that, the '80s was the period of closing down the institutions and getting these people back into the community, whether they were developmentally disabled or whether they were mentally ill. And there's been, you know, arguable failures and successes with that program. I'd say there are people who probably need care in the communities that aren't getting care because the community mental health centers are, for one reason or another, not addressing that. There's not community mental health centers in every community, so you know, we do have a huge untreated population in the villages. That's -- you know, some people say that we should be doing something about that, and I'm more inclined to say that there are certain sacrifices that you have to make if you're going to live in the village. You can't -- you can't have the village life and have all the things of metropolitan living. I -- BILL SCHNEIDER: There were considerable efforts made by people like John Malone to develop services in places like Bethel.
DICK BRANTON: Uh-hum.
BILL SCHNEIDER: When you think of Anchorage and Fairbanks, who were some of the people you think about who worked towards getting local services for people? DICK BRANTON: Well, the -- there were basically a lot of psychologists that not -- there was not as much push from the locally functioning psychiatrists that were in private practice, but clinical psychologists, and there seemed to be, you know, a lot of them that were looking for employment. And they saw that as a way to, you know, have a clientele if they could provide care for them. In terms of names, I can't really give you a lot of names, but remember that the state established the first community mental health centers, and they -- and then we had the federal money and the state money and started putting the community mental health centers together, and then eventually we began to -- to give grants to the municipalities and the state withdrew. So those people that were employed at the state community mental health centers were -- either became municipal employees or contracted employees.
One of the last major community mental health centers to be operated by the state was the one in Juneau, and the medical oversight of that came out of the Central Office, and they were staffed by clinical psychologists. But the last -- the last one that I remember, or two of them, one was Joe Adelmeyer, and the other one was Ramona Green. Ramona Green is still alive, I don't know whether Joe is or not. Last I heard is Joe was in, boy, Montana -- no, I can't tell you.
BILL SCHNEIDER: That's okay.
DICK BRANTON: Yeah. Section 3:
BILL SCHNEIDER: Well, let's talk about what happened with the Mental Health Trust lands.
DICK BRANTON: Okay. Well, recall that I -- I said that the Federal Government wanted the Territory of Alaska to begin to provide services, so there was a -- this offer to give you -- give the Mental Health Authority a million acres of land to be chosen. And so we got right with that. And there were a lot of people involved because, you know, this was federal -- federal land that was going to become territorial land. And under the -- as an example, under the -- whatever the act is that provides for state operated universities, agricultural universities, and every -- I believe it's every 16th and every 32nd -- KAREN BREWSTER: Section.
DICK BRANTON: -- section, I think, of each township is automatically designated as university land. So what they call land grant colleges, you know. And University of Alaska is one of those.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Right. DICK BRANTON: And so that was -- one of the landowners was the University of Alaska because it was founded under, you know, the land grant program and the mental health program.
So the land was selected by sort of willy-nilly, but with thought being given to known or suspected mineral resources or the continuing development of communities, the outskirts of Anchorage, Fairbanks, this type of thing. And so the University of Alaska, I don't know how they selected their land, I really don't, but they had done theirs. And the mental health people got right on that. And we were selecting our land and saying, oh, this is selected, and once it was selected, then we -- there was a legal description and it was filed with the state, and the -- and then we had to petition to the Federal Government, we've selected this much land, and they would say, okay, here it is, and in fact, because I knew you'd be here, I went out and I looked through my files, and I have a map here, one of the early maps of the --
BILL SCHNEIDER: Selections?
DICK BRANTON: -- selections of the mental health lands. And we can lay this out here so you can see it. So in any -- anywhere there were mental health lands, it's marked. So you can see here's quite a concentration around Anchorage, down in Kenai Peninsula, in the areas up around Fairbanks, and the coal development here in southeast, you know, down through here. And the deal was, then, that the land would be selected, and as I said earlier, when we selected the land, we then filed and received the deed for it. Section 4:
So at Statehood and shortly thereafter, both the University of Alaska and the Mental Health Agency had clear title to quite a lot of land, a million acres. We didn't -- I think we had about somewhere around 90 percent of our mental health land had been selected by that time. I don't know how much of the university land had been selected. But the mental health land, the way in which it was deeded into a trust, and it was deeded into a mental health trust, and that trust was to be managed by the agency, and mental health didn't have any capacity to do that. And so at Statehood -- and this was all kind of happening at Statehood. At Statehood, the Department of Natural Resources was the one that managed the land. So although they were involved in some of the selection process and all, the long and the short of it was once the land was selected, they were the managers. And the law said that the trust then was to be operated and the revenue from the trust, the first call on the revenue was for programs for mental health.
And at that time, there was no designation clearly between mental health and developmentally disabled. So -- so you might say it was for the operation of facilities in the care of mentally -- mentally ill, as well as developmentally disabled. So the way the trust was worded is that the first call on the revenues that are generated by the mental health lands was for the programs, the mental health programs. And that any money on an annual basis that wasn't used for mental health purposes that was generating a surplus could be designated for other public use. Well, what we became aware of was that first, the land was not being well managed. It was -- the Department of Natural Resources didn't -- they just said it was state land and they were treating it like state land. And if a community or some agency came along and said, you know, we need a piece of state land for whatever, well, mental health land, didn't make any difference, away it went. And that wasn't necessarily generating any revenue. And the other thing was that there were situations where some developer would say, you know, I've got -- I've got 5,000 acres of land just south of Anaktuvuk Pass, and I'll give the state that 5,000 acres in exchange for -- for this 10-acre tract of state land that I want to develop. And the state said, oh, that's a pretty good deal. Well, the Anaktuvuk Pass land, you know, is of practically no economic value, and the piece of property that got exchanged for that had -- maybe it was for a high rise apartment or something. So there was -- I won't say there was mismanagement but there was no -- no indication that they were -- anybody was managing the state land, quote, mental health land in a way to produce the maximum amount of revenue, and in fact, they were playing pretty loose with it. And so that was -- that was one issue that was going on. Section 5:
Another issue that was going on was that the boroughs, after Statehood, the state said form these government agencies to take over the -- such things as fire and healthcare or fire protection, healthcare, road maintenance, whatever, depending, and for second or third-class boroughs, and the state will give you, you know, a large amount of land and turn over to your management the state land within the geographic confines of the borough. And that was an incentive for -- for boroughs to form, to -- and it's very contentious even today because there are areas that are unorganized boroughs. And therefore, all of the costs for schooling and that kind of thing is borne by the state, whereas in an organized borough, one of the duties that is taken over by the borough is education. So -- so that was another issue that was going on. And then along comes the -- the issue of the Native land claims issue. And the Federal Government promises these various Native corporations, you know, and gives them a preferential call on -- on land that they can claim as part of their corporate incentive to -- to form the corporations. So that's a third one. Well, this all comes together when all of a sudden the mental health program became aware that our land was not necessarily being managed to produce any revenue, and that -- that we were getting what we felt shortchanged in money that we needed to run our community mental health centers with, and this sort of thing, and the boroughs started saying we -- we want to start selecting the land and, you know, where can we do this, you know, is there any -- is there any land within the geographic confines of our borough that the state can't give us, and the Native corporations started looking around at their land. So they passed a law, and there was -- there were two different pieces of legislation that were in the legislature that year, and one of them said that -- well, the -- first, the discovery was made by the administration as well as the legislature that the only lands that the state really owned clearly was the university's land grant lands that they already had taken, and the mental health lands that we'd filed on. And the rest of it, you know, it was questionable about whether the Federal -- you know, the state hadn't gotten the money from the -- the land from the Federal Government, and then the Feds have said, the Natives, that they could stake out land, and -- but the boroughs thought they were going to get that land, and so all this starts to come together. So the legislation that was passed, one of them was that the Mental Health Trust lands would be placed in the control and ownership of the state, and the corpus of the trust would be replaced by an annual appropriation from the state. So -- and so said, basically all the mental health land trust, the trust will continue to exist, but the land within the trust, which is the corpus of the trust, will revert to the state and the state will, in fact, appropriate money to the trust on an annual basis. Section 6:
BILL SCHNEIDER: And this was all legal?
DICK BRANTON: Well, it's legal, yeah. I mean, remember that the land was -- the purpose of the land was to support the first call was for the mental health programs. And as all the state was doing was essentially buying all the mental health land on a contract that said that they would appropriate money every year into the trust in exchange for the titles to the land. Well, there was two pieces of legislation passed. And the first piece said -- and I was in favor of it, it made good sense, that the -- it says, and the legislature will appropriate, and there was some other language, but it said the legislature will appropriate annually, you know, money to replace the corpus of the trust. You know, it didn't say how much, but there was some -- there was some caveats. And actually, the caveats were that the state would -- now that I think about it, the state would appropriate, I believe it was 1 and a half percent of all revenue from state lands into the Mental Health Trust, and also I think it was 2 percent of all revenue from state lands would go into the university trust lands because the same -- the same piece of legislation was essentially to transfer these two big chunks of land, mental health land and university land that the state clearly owned. And so the university was in agreement with that and I was in agreement with that, and went over and testified and said, yeah, this is a good deal, you know. And then they amended the law, and that law actually passed, and then it was amended within, oh, within hours both the House and Senate passed it and amended. And the word "shall" was made the word "may." So it said the law then transferred the ownership and control of all university land and all mental health land to the state, and then it said, and the state may appropriate annually, you know, a certain percentage of all revenue from state lands into the university trust and into the Mental Health Trust. Well, that changed the whole picture because they were -- there's no mandate to do that. Well, the reason, of course, that the state was trying to do that was then they would have land and they could speak to the boroughs and say, okay, here's land that we have because the boroughs want that -- that was the land -- they wanted to expand their cities and this sort of thing and that was university and mental health land, and so that would give the state the tools to do that, and it wouldn't get in the way of what was happening with the Alaska Native land settlement because this was clearly land that the state had control over. But when they changed the -- the "shall" to "may," and that was the law that was signed by the Governor.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Who was the Governor at that time?
DICK BRANTON: Boy.
BILL SCHNEIDER: We can find out.
DICK BRANTON: I don't know. You'll have to look and see. Yeah. I've -- I think it was Hickel but I'm not sure. KAREN BREWSTER: Do you know what time period this is?
DICK BRANTON: No, I can't even pinpoint the time period. But -- but anyway --
BILL SCHNEIDER: We'll let you go on.
DICK BRANTON: Yeah. So the university immediately, you know, jumped on that and said, hey, when you change that -- that "shall" to "may," you've essentially stolen all of our land grant money. And they challenged that in court very quickly and won. And that was the impetus, then, for the land claims lawsuit that was generated for the mental health lands that said that, hey, not only have you stolen our land, but over the years, you have never reported how much revenue was there and have never given us the revenue that we had because our appropriation was always a general appropriation. Section 7:
And of course, the big -- the big issue there became one of here was a law on the books of a trust that was generated that directly funded a state-operated program without legislative oversight. And the legislature said we can't have this because the Constitution doesn't allow it. But it does allow it for university lands because the university is a different animal out there because the land grant college program was the -- the quality of the title was different. So we, as I say, looked at all this and said, well, what are we going to do here. So we sued for getting the land back in the corpus of the trust.
Well, of course, some of that land had already been deeded to boroughs who had already sold it or whatever. But there was a substantial amount of it that was still intact. So when the lawsuit was finally settled, several things happened. One of them was that the -- there was a -- allegedly a full market value of money that was given to the Mental Health Trust as a part of the corpus for replacement of the land, and the land that was still intact was put back in the trust. So now we have a Mental Health Trust with a corpus of money as well as land. And a mandate to function, you know, as a trust directly for the mental health.
So it's a parallel process to the legislature because it doesn't require legislative appropriation to take money from the mental health land trust and to give it to a program. So here's essentially kind of almost state money but not quite, and a parallel thing. And this was, and continues to be a point of conflict because the operation of the mental health land trust has its own drummer that they march to over here, and the legislature has very jurisdictional authority. So that's --
BILL SCHNEIDER: That's a real helpful clarification. DICK BRANTON: Yeah. It -- and it still operates under the same tent that the first call on the annual revenues from the trust go to the mental health programs, and then any residual on an annual basis can go to other public programs. Well, now what we have here are two cash cows, the state government and the mental health land trust. So all of a sudden all these tangential programs, the first that come up are the developmentally disabled. And by this time the developmentally disabled are marching over here to their own program, and they've been transferred over to the Department of Education, and they are operating under the Department of Education rules. And the -- the money, much of the money for their programming is coming out of the Department of Education. The Department of Education is mandated to provide schooling and this sort of thing, and if it requires residential programs, then they have to pay that, so on and so forth.
And all of a sudden also the SODA (phonetic), department of the -- Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse says, hey, you know, our -- our programs are treating these people are drinking because they are mentally ill or they are mentally ill and drinking, or you know, whatever. And so we are really, you know, tangentially a mental healthcare program, too. So all -- and all these people trying to latch on to this because then they can draw from two cash cows, the mental health land trust, or the -- and the Department of Education is saying, well, you know, we -- we've got all these developmentally disabled and they really should be funded out of the trust. So that -- that rages on as to -- as to what programs legitimately can tap into revenue and the Mental Health Land Trust -- is generated by the Mental Health Land Trust, and what ones can tap into the state general funds and how that all operates.
And if you're getting a lot of input, that might clarify somewhat about what's going on there, because --
BILL SCHNEIDER: That's good. DICK BRANTON: And you see a -- you know, the mental health land trust is funding this or funding that, and you wonder, well, why is that happening. Well, it's happening because somehow they've weaseled their way in, and that may be a bad term, but I say weasel meaning they weren't initially -- there was no such program when the mental health land was originally set up, it was set up purely, you know, for the mentally ill. And the -- the developmentally disabled were never a part of the mentally ill in the federal concern. I don't think there is any federal -- and I know that there is no constitutional mandate to provide services for the developmentally disabled. That's a socially acceptable thing that happens, but I don't know of any words in the Constitution per se, it talks about mentally ill and it talks about prisoners and it talks about various classes, but I don't think you'll ever find any direct referral in the Constitution for the state to provide services and care for the developmentally disabled. But they were a part of the -- of the mental health program when the -- the way the administration had put it together.
And so they said, hey, there was no differentiation between the mentally ill and the developmentally disabled at that time, so they should be in the program. KAREN BREWSTER: I think when the lawsuit was settled they had definitions of beneficiary groups.
DICK BRANTON: Yeah, they --
KAREN BREWSTER: Can you tell us how some of that all came out.
DICK BRANTON: Some of that all came out, and it's still being fought, I mean, they -- as to do they have unlimited or are they a part of that group that has first call on the money, or do they have call on the money that's the residual after the mental health program is funded. And the battle goes on. It's all about money. You know. So -- so that's --
BILL SCHNEIDER: That's a good --
DICK BRANTON: -- that's the story of the mental health land trust. Section 8:
BILL SCHNEIDER: That's very helpful. Do you have questions, Karen?
KAREN BREWSTER: No. But other than if we've covered all of your involvement in all of this, if we've missed any pieces here. DICK BRANTON: Well, I, you know, as I say, I tangentially was involved for 20 some years, and directly involved for 10, so that's, I guess, kind of the highlights of much of it.
There's -- there's -- I want to give you a good story, though. And anyone who has been here in Alaska for many years has heard people who are acting strangely or a lot of antisocial behavior being referred to as they've missed too many boats.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Uh-hum. DICK BRANTON: Have you heard this story?
KAREN BREWSTER: No.
DICK BRANTON: Well, what used to happen was that the -- the main port of call for transportation in and out was either down in Seward or out of Valdez. But the -- the last passenger boats leaving Alaska in the fall left out of Valdez, and got out of Seward, because Seward was pretty isolated. The only way you got there was by train, you couldn't get there by car. And so what would happen is that these people would be before a magistrate and/or a Federal Court and they would say, okay, John Doe is sentenced to two and a half years for some shooting moose out of season. That was more punishable than killing your partner. Or they were acting very strange. And so they said, okay, you know, we're going to take you down to Morningside. And so the magistrates would say, well, we can't do that in the summertime because, you know, these people, some of them were working and some of them -- the guy that got sentenced for killing moose out of season had to get things organized and all so he could leave his family, and so there was a big kind of a unofficial roundup that took place, all these people, and they reported in to the magistrates. And the -- the various law enforcement people then would round them up and they would all journey to Valdez. And then the last boat that went, they had all the developmentally disabled, the, quote, crazies, and the criminals, the whole -- the whole bunch of them, and all of the law enforcement people, and they'd load them all on the boat and they would sail out of Valdez, and they'd go down and they went to McNeil Island or wherever the prisoners went, and they went to Morningside, whatever. Well, sometimes, you know, one of the old law enforcement officers couldn't get John who was back in the hills someplace doing his prospecting, and he didn't show up in time for the magistrate. So the boat would sail. And three days after the boat sailed, well, here would come these stragglers coming into Valdez. And there's no more boats, you know, the last boat is gone, and so Valdez would end up with this strange array of transient residents who were mentally ill, disabled, criminal, and whatever. As you can imagine, it would be quite a matrix. And they had to winter over in Valdez until next spring when they could get a boat to get out of there. And so you had all these weird behaving people in Valdez, and hence the saying came up that, well, you know, boy, he's weird, he's missed too many boats, meaning that he should have been on the boat that took the crew down there. And that was a real common saying of people with strange behaviors, oh, they just missed too many boats. Section 9:
KAREN BREWSTER: Actually, I did have one other question. You mentioned, you know, the residents at Morningside who didn't want to leave and didn't come back to Alaska. Well, Morningside closed, so what happened to those people?
DICK BRANTON: Well, they built -- Morningside was replaced by a state hospital in Oregon, in Salem. And as I say, Morningside was a private operation, and they finally built a state hospital, and so they -- they could go to the state hospital if they didn't want to come back up here. You know. KAREN BRESTER: Did you personally get an opportunity to go to Morningside?
DICK BRANTON: I have never been in Morningside. Never have. Dr. Schrader can fill you in. He -- he did his -- some of his training in the hospital in Salem, and he can tell you all about the history of the state hospital in Salem and the conflicts of Morningside when they tried to build a state hospital and this sort of thing. And he's very articulate at -- and would be glad to talk to you by telephone.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Okay. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, anything else? Otherwise I'll turn it off.
DICK BRANTON: Well, I -- you know, I have lots of stories, but they are anecdotal stories and probably not too much historical significance. So I'd say that's probably what we need to record anyway.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Thank you very much.
KAREN BREWSTER: Thank you very much.