The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has awarded the first federal land allotments, all in the Goodnews Bay area of Southwest Alaska, as part of the Alaska Native Vietnam-era Veteran Land Allotment Program.
The new allotments totaled 309.96 acres. 1.6 million acres of federal land are now open for applications by Native Vietnam war veteran for 160-acre allotments.
Much land will be available once the BLM sorts through old Public Land Orders that are now keeping the land closed. Applications can be made through December 29, 2025
Most of the available lands are in remote areas of the state that might be of interest to Native veterans in villages near those areas some BLM-managed lands along the Denali Highway are available, according to maps the agency has posted on its Alaska web page.
U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said, “We have a sacred obligation to America’s veterans. I know the sacrifices made by those who serve in our military, and we are committed to ensuring the rights of our Alaska Native Vietnam-era veterans.” Haaland’s father served during the Vietnam War.
“The (Interior) Department will continue to move forward expeditiously so that Alaska Native Vietnam-era veterans are able to select the land allotments they are owed, with an expansive selection area,” the Secretary said in a statement.
The Alaska Native Vietnam Era Veterans Land Allotment Program was established by the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act of 2019.
Through this program, the BLM can provide eligible individuals the opportunity to select an allotment of up to 160 acres from vacant, unappropriated, and unreserved federal lands in Alaska, or lands selected by the state or Native corporations, if that entity agrees to relinquish that portion of their selection, BLM said in a briefing document.
Much of the land open to selections are in the “Section 17-d-1” federal land withdrawals made in the early 1970s as the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act passed Congress. Section 17-d-2 of the act reserved Alaska federal lands for national parks, wildlife refuges, national forests and wild and scenic rivers, actions that were formalized in the U.S. Alaska National Lands and Conservation Act, or ANILCA, that passed Congress in 1980.
However, another part of the Native claims act, section 17-d-1, withdrew tens of millions of additional federal lands for further study and through Public Land Orders closed the lands to entry by private parties like mining companies.
The Interior Department is considering opening these lands for private entry and use but is giving Alaska Native veterans the first chance to choose lands for 160-ace allotments.
This represents the third time that federally managed land has been offered to Alaska Native Vietnam veterans, who did not have access to land allotments while serving during the Vietnam War.
The BLM has worked with the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, as well as Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs to identify eligible veterans and their families.
To date, over 1,400 veterans and families have been contacted to apply, with almost 130 applications received. About 80 of these are now being processed. Each application can involve hours of consultation with the applicant by BLM staff, followed by weeks or more of researching files and adjudication.
The BLM is still looking to find addresses for 698 Native veterans who are eligible to apply for the allotments, BLM Alaska spokesperson Lesli Ellis-Wouters said.
The BLM continues to accept and process applications for the 1.6 million acres “Currently Available” in Interior’s Fortymile area; near Goodnews Bay in western Alaska; and in the Bering Glacier area near Yakutat. The 80 applications BLM is processing is in these areas.
In addition to about 1.6 million acres on BLM lands currently available to Alaska Native veterans under the program, last May the agency added 28 million acres for potential selection of lands available. These areas would be open after BLM completes its review of current public land orders closing the “d-1” areas to entry. BLM’s Available Lands Map on its Alaska website shows lands that could be open.
For more information on the Alaska Native Vietnam Era Veterans Land Allotment Program and how to submit interest, please visit BLM’s program page.