Skip to comments.Quietly, State Dept. Turns Over American Islands to Russia, Others
Posted on 06/12/2003 9:16:57 AM PDT by Beck_isright
Quietly, State Dept. Turns Over American Islands to Russia, Others
In recent years several U.S. islands have been ceded to Russia and other countries, without congressional approval or public debate.
These islands, many uninhabited, are significant because they hold potential mineral, gas, oil and fishing rights not to mention potential strategic military value.
So where exactly are these disputed islands?
The Arctic islands, which lie west of Alaska and north of Siberia, include the islands of Wrangell, Herald, Bennett, Jeannette and Henrietta.
The islands in the Bering Sea make up the westernmost point in Alaskas Aleutian chain and include Copper Island, Sea Otter Rock and Sea Lion Rock. These islands together have more square mileage than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware combined.
Though the United States had staked claim to these islands for more than a century, the State Department has been anxious to turn them back to Russia.
The tranfer would have gone unnoticed were it not for State Department Watch, a Washington-based group that monitors State Department acitivities.
Retired U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Carl Olson, who heads State Department Watch, recently checked with the Census Bureau, asking if it had plans to count the inhabitants of these disputed islands in the current census.
Olson was stunned by the response he received from the Census Bureau.
"Census Bureau officials were informed by the U.S. Department of State that these islands remain under the jurisdiction of Russia," wrote Kenneth Prewitt, director of the Census Bureau in a letter to Olson.
"Without confirmation and appropriate documentation from the Department of State to the contrary, the Census Bureau cannot include these islands as part of the State of Alaska," Prewitt concluded.
Americans Become Russians
Olson notes that the Census Bureau, with the approval of the State Dept., has just stripped Americans of their citizenship.
Consider the inhabitants of Wrangell Island, the largest of eight disputed islands five lying in the Arctic Ocean and three in the Bering Sea.
Geographically speaking, the islands inhabitants would also be citizens of the state of Alaska since no other American state comes even close to the proximity of the islands.
But if anyone desired to visit Wrangell Island, they would be greeted not by the Stars and Stripes waving proudly in the brisk air but by a Russian military tower.
According to Olson, the islands including Wrangell have 18 Russian soldiers and one officer and 50 to 100 inhabitants.
Olson insists these people have been made to endure foreign occupation by the Russian military and believes the U.S. government should do something about taking the islands back.
NewsMax.com contacted Mark Seidenberg, a former senior traffic management specialist within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and asked him if he believed the United States should pursue its sovereignty on the islands. Seidenberg, without hesitation, said "yes."
U.S. Territory for Long Time
U.S. claims for these islands are strong.
When the United States purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867, the impending treaty included all of the Aleutian Islands, including Copper Island, Sea Otter Rock and Sea Lion Rock.
A number of years later, in 1881, U.S. Captain Calvin L. Hooper landed on Wrangell Island and claimed it for the United States. One of the landing party was famed explorer John Muir.
Also in 1881, the U.S. Navy claimed Bennett, Jeannette and Henrietta islands for the United States. Later that century, the British gave up their claim to Herald Island, allowing the Americans to take it over.
Claims of these islands, however, didnt become an important issue between the former Soviet Union and the United States until the 1970s, when the concept of international fishing zones 200 miles from national coastlines went into affect.
With both the Soviet Union and Alaska having coastlines within a much closer proximity than the needed 400-mile buffer zone, a maritime boundary had to be established.
The resulting U.S.-U.S.S.R. Maritime Boundary Treaty was passed by the Senate and ratified by former President George Bush in 1991. Russia, however, never ratified the treaty because its leaders complained that the U.S.S.R. didnt benefit enough from it.
Nevertheless, former U.S. Secretary of State Jim Baker and the Soviet Unions Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze signed a secretive executive agreement the year before that bound both governments to the treaty.
Currently, Russia is demanding hundreds of millions of pounds more fishing rights from the United States that would undermine the Alaskan fish industry and, subsequently, the states economy.
A wealth of petroleum and natural gas hang in the balance as well.
When NewsMax.com contacted the State Department for an explanation, a spokesman said he wasnt aware of any issue involving the Wrangell Islands and the U.S. government and that it was his belief that the islands have been recognized as a part of Russia since the 1800s. During the course of the interview, the State Department official asked if he was being "put on."
Even though now recognizing Russian jurisdiction over the islands, the State Department had testified at the June 13, 1991, treaty hearing that the maritime boundary agreement "does not recognize Soviet sovereignty over these [five Arctic] islands."
Enraged by the turnover of Alaskas sovereign land, Rep. John Coghill Jr. of that states legislature sponsored House Joint Resolution 27, which beseeches the Department of State to inform the Alaska Legislature of any decisions regarding the maritime agreement.
The resolution further points out that setting a maritime boundary between Alaska and Russia is a "constitutional issue of states rights."
One of the issues over these islands and the surrounding waters are the fishing rights of Alaskan fishermen. Oil, of which Alaska has the largest national reserves, may also be abundant in the disputed territory.
Olson notes the area's strategic value as well.
Beneath the icy waters around the islands, submarine warfare has taken place in the past between the former Soviet Union and the United States. The ice is now one of the last places for submarines to hide. The islands could also be hosts to vital facilities tracking hostile government movements.
"Everybody knows that the shortest distance between the U.S. mainland and Asia is the polar route, giving easy access to aircraft and whatever else," Olson explained. "And the Asian mainland doesnt just consist of Russia. It includes China."
More American Islands Lost
Olson adds that the Arctic islands are not the only American islands the State Dept. has been giving away without congressional approval or treaty.
In recent years four American Pacific Islands Washington, Fanning, Makin and Little Makin have been ceded to the island nation of Kiribati without a treaty.
"Lost islands include Nassau Island in the Pacific Ocean and Bajo Nuevo and Serranilla Bank in the Caribbean Sea. The islands became American territory under the Guano Act in the late 1800s.
Regarding these three lost islands, the Census Bureau's Prewitt, in a letter dated March 15, stated, "With respect to Nassau Island, Bajo Nuevo, or Serranilla Bank, the Department of State has not informed the Census Bureau that claims to these islands have been certified."
In addition to the abandonment of the islands is the loss of all resources within a 200-mile economic zone of each island. As is the case with most of the Arctic islands, the economic zones around each of the islands may be more important than the islands themselves.
This is an old Guanno Islands wives tale.
The U.S. issues temporary sovereignty to islands covered in bird guanno that are claimed by miners (guanno is useful in making black powder, or at least it was useful a century ago).
But when the mining stops, the U.S. guarantee on soveriegnty for the island ends.
And "island" is perhaps too strong a word. These are basicly large rock outcroppings.
Makes for great fear-mongering in the tabloids, though!
Congrats on falling for it.
Here's TODAYS copy of the Wrangell Island Chamber of Commerce web site, 3 years *AFTER* NEWSMAX and Worldnet Daily claimed Wrangell Island was occupied by Russian troops with a Russian guard tower.
Enjoy your tin-foil...
There are flights from Fairbanks to Wrangell every day. Seems like a lot of transportation for 119 inhabitants.
BWAAAA Ha Ha!
It just goes to show that some people will believe *anything* that they read if it in anyway supports their own anti-Bush political agenda...
There are also daily American flights going there so you can see for yourself.
And there's no Russian Guard tower on the non-Guano Wrangell Island, either...
Hey, where's that Russian military tower again, on Wrangell?!
BWWAAAA Ha HAAAAA haaa!
"Nestled on an island at the mouth of the mighty Stikine River, Wrangell offers visitors a friendly taste of a frontier community in the midst of some of the most unique and pristine wilderness in Alaska."
Wrangel Island has always been considered the Chutchka (sp?) Autonomous Territory. Part of Russia.
Is this mike hot? No response, Captain. The scoutship may be lost somewhere down by Sitka, which seems odd because he's supposed to be up around Kotzebue.
From the article as posted above (that you didn't read):
"Lost islands include Nassau Island in the Pacific Ocean and Bajo Nuevo and Serranilla Bank in the Caribbean Sea. The islands became American territory under the Guano Act in the late 1800s."
September 9, 2001, marked the eightieth anniversary of an ill-fated five-member expedition to a far-flung tiny uninhabited island that forever made life difficult for the sole survivor.
Ada Blackjack Johnson, who was born in Solomon on May 10, 1898, was just twenty-three years old when she was hired as a seamstress to accompany four other members of an expedition charged with colonizing Russias Wrangel Island, 85 miles off the northeast coast of Siberia.
Left a widow in Nome when her husband drowned, Ada did the best she could to care for her son Bennett who suffered from tuberculosis and later spinal meningitis. Two other babies born to the couple had died. She undertook the risky prospect of going to a place that was virtually unknown at the time because she desperately wanted to earn enough money to get medical care for her son.
The original plan had been to hire Eskimo families, with the women making boots and clothing and the men doing the hunting.
. . .the Wrangel party tried to engage at Nome some Eskimo families, and did so actually. But when the time came to sail there arrived at the boat landing only the Eskimo woman, Ada Blackjack, who had been expecting to go along as a member of one of the families engaged. When she found that the others had broken their bargain she also wanted to withdraw, but was prevailed upon to go by the assurance that the Silver Wave would call in at some Eskimo settlement between Nome and Wrangel to hire families in which Ada could then take her place. . .With that program they sailed September 9th, 1921, Vilhjalmur Stefansson wrote in his 1925 book about the expedition, The Adventure of Wrangel Island.
Stefansson had sent the party to Wrangel Island with the hope that Canada or the United States would be able to claim control of the island, which had always been a part of Russia. The island encompasses an area of about 2,000 square miles. Its 80 miles long and 18 to 30 miles wide, which makes it about half the size of Puerto Rico.
Now a Russian wildlife refuge, in the early part of the century the island was mysterious because it is surrounded almost constantly by ice fields and often blanketed in dense fog. Melody Webb of the University of Alaska-Fairbanks wrote a paper describing the island and its history in 1981, and it is featured in Stefanssons book as well as other books written about a previous expedition to the island sponsored by Stefansson that was equally disastrous.
The team Stefansson sent in 1921 included Blackjack and three other Americans as well as a Canadian. Stefanssons secret hope was that including a Canadian would force the Canadian government into accepting its responsibility for claiming the island. Expedition members included Frederick Mauer and E. Lorne Knight, both 28-year-old Americans, American Milton Galle, 20, and Canadian Allan R. Crawford, also 20, and the man Stefansson designated as the groups leader.
The Silver Wave arrived at Wrangel Island on September 16. In a dictated statement, printed in Stefanssons book, Blackjack wrote: When we got to Wrangel Island, the land looked very large to me, but they said that it was only a small island. I thought at first that I would turn back, but I decided it wouldnt be fair to the boys. Soon after we arrived I started to sew.
Although they planned to be on the island for two years, they brought supplies for only six months because they expected to live primarily off the land.
They stayed at first in a tent, then built a snowhouse. In the spring of 1922, the men killed more than 30 seals and 10 polar bears as well as geese and ducks, according to Blackjack, so meat seemed to be plentiful. That summer Knight went off by himself to explore and swam across the Skeleton River. He was never well after the trip.
Throughout the summer, the group waited for a supply boat to arrive. But Stefanssons boat had been unable to reach the island because of ice. By late fall, conditions worsened for the group and there was little meat. On Jan. 8, Knight and Crawford took the dogs and left for Siberia to get help. But they returned within a couple of weeks because Knight was too sick and weak to travel.
On January 28, Crawford, Mauer and Galle left for Siberia.
They promised that they would come back after they got to Nome, with a ship, and if they couldnt get there with a ship they would come over with a dog team next winter. They left with a team of five dogs and a big sled of supplies, Blackjack wrote.
That was the last she or anyone ever saw of the trio. And from that point on, Blackjacks life became a battle for survival. She did not know how to hunt and trap, but she learned quickly because Knight was too ill to be of any assistance.
By February, he had become bedridden. She kept a bag of warm sand at Knights feet and sewed pillows of oatmeal sacks stuffed with cotton to ease his bedsores.
When he died later in the spring, she was completely alone and at the mercy of the many polar bears that frequented the island.
Once, when she was hunting seals, she barely escaped from a mother bear and her cub.
Finally, I realized it was a polar bear and I was four hundred yards from my tent. I turned and ran just as hard as I could until I got to my tent. I was just about ready to faint when I got there, too, she said.
After a number of other close calls, Blackjack was finally rescued August 19, 1923, when the boat Donaldson arrived. Incredibly, Blackjack found her return to the more populated world to be nearly as harrowing as Wrangel Island. She was criticized by one of her rescuers for not finding a way to save Knights life, although Knights parents eventually vindicated her after meeting with her and issuing a statement that Blackjack had done everything possible to save their sons life.
Still, poverty dogged Blackjack for much of her life. She married and divorced a man named Johnson and had another son, Billy, who eventually became a leader in the Thirteenth Regional Corp. Because she had little money and was not well, Billy and Bennett were put in the Jessie Lee Home in Seward for nine years.
When she finally scraped together enough money, she took the two boys to Nome where she worked herding reindeer and fed the children by hunting and trapping. After Billy left home, his mother continued to care for Bennett. She died in Palmer May 29, 1983.
Johnson recalls his mother with love.
I consider my mother Ada Blackjack to be one of the most loving mothers in this world and one of the greatest heroines in the history of Arctic exploration. She survived against all odds. Its a wonderful story that should not be lost of her self-discovery and cultural re-awakening. And its a story of a mother fighting to survive to live so she could carry on with her son Bennett and help him fight the illness that was consuming him. She succeeded, and I was born later. Her story of survival in the Arctic will be a great chapter in the history of the Arctic and Alaska. Time is running out, and soon this chapter will fade away unless we care enough to make a record of it, he said.
When his mother died, Johnson had a plaque mounted on her grave stating simply: The heroine of Wrangel Island.
Hey, I'm all for taking back the islands, but this sentence is downright silly. A traffic management analyst with the department of agriculture? They might as well ask the guy from a corner store in front of Des Moines, IA while they are at it.
Pretty deceptive, but typical of tabloids and tin-foilers.
Gee, no one is mining bird-poop (i.e. guano) on Russia's Wrangel any longer, so the U.S. has ceased claiming sovereignty over it.
Oh my, what a scandal! Quick, let's tell our readers that the Alaskan island Wrangell has been occupied by Russian troops and guard towers...
< /MOCKING! >
LOL...yeah, I did. I VAGUELY remember a territorial disput at the time of the first Bush administration which MIGHT be the basis of this...urban legend. Confusion about names. That's what I'm trying to find details on, but since it wasn't illegal or even important, am finding nothing linkable along the lines of what I'm looking for.
Wrangel Island or Wrangell Island , Rus. Ostrov Vrangelya, island, 1,740 sq mi (4,507 sq km), in the Arctic Ocean, between the East Siberian Sea and the Chukchi Sea, off NE Russia. It is separated from the mainland by Long Strait. Generally barren, frozen, and rocky, it has an arctic station and a permanent settlement. The island is a breeding ground for polar bears, polar foxes, seals, and lemmings. During the summer it is visited by numerous varieties of birds. The island was sought by Russian Baron Ferdinand von Wrangel during his arctic expedition of 182024; he had heard of it from Siberian natives, but he did not succeed in finding it. It was finally discovered by Thomas Long, captain of an American whaling ship, who named it for Wrangel. Later George W. De Long, an American explorer, discovered that it was a small island and not a part of the mainland, as at first believed. In 1911 a group of Russians made a landing on the island, and in 1921 Vilhjalmur Stefansson, the Canadian explorer, sent a small party to Wrangel with a view to claiming it for Great Britain. In 1926 the Soviet government established the first permanent colony there, ousting the few of Stefansson's Eskimo settlers who had remained. The Soviet freighter Chelyuskin, trying to discover (1933) whether an ordinary cargo ship could navigate the Northeast Passage, was crushed in the ice off Wrangel Island. The party was marooned on the island but was later rescued.
Wrangell Island US 30 mi (48 km) long and 5 to 14 mi (8.1-22.5 km) wide, off SE Alaska in the Alexander Archipelago, south of the mouth of the Stikine River. It was occupied in 1834 by Russians, who named it for the Russian explorer Baron Ferdinand von Wrangel. The city of Wrangell, on the northern coast, grew around a fort built to prevent encroachment by the Hudson's Bay Company traders. From 1867 to 1877 it was a U.S. military post; later it became an outfitting point for hunters and explorers as well as for miners using the Stikine River route to the Yukon. Lumbering, fishing, and mining are pursued in the area.
There are two islands, one Russian, the other American. One is spelled "Wrangel", the other "Wrangell".
The American island Wrangell is alive and well and still flies the American flag to this very day, as EVIDENCED BY THE FREAKING POST ABOVE THAT I MADE FROM THEIR CHAMBER OF COMMERCE WEB SITE!
For crying out loud, do you not realize that your pathetic argument has been shredded and debunked by now?!
Get a grip!
Read the maps posted above, then go slap Beck_isright for posting this nonsense, again, 3 years after it was discredited.
It is the article, as well as your argument, that has been debunked, not the existence of the islands.
"Quietly, State Dept. Turns Over American Islands to Russia, Others"
Did you miss the line in the article wherein NewsMax claims "But if anyone desired to visit Wrangell Island, they would be greeted not by the Stars and Stripes waving proudly in the brisk air but by a Russian military tower."
There is no Russian military tower on Wrangell Island, and I even posted the U.S. Chamber of Commerce web page (above, this thread) for Wrangell Island to illustrate that point.
Talk about being discredited...