City of Hoonah files to review forming a borough

    An aerial image of Hoonah.

    Hoonah, Alaska (KINY) - The City of Hoonah is filing a technical review petition with the State of Alaska to become a borough.

    The City of Hoonah has obtained the signatures and resident addresses of 15 percent of the voters in Hoonah in the area of the proposed Xunaa Borough incorporation, as well as 15 percent of the voters in the area of the proposed Xunaa Borough outside of the city.

    The city says it is prepared to take action requested by the Local Boundary Commission regarding the proposed detachment of certain areas incorporated within the Haines Borough and City and Borough of Sitka. The city has already taken the step of polling some registered voting residents of Excursion Inlet regarding the proposed detachment.

    If approved, the new borough would be a Non-Unified Home Rule form of government. Hoonah was incorporated as a first-class city in Alaska in 1946.

    The proposed Xunaa Borough includes the area currently comprising the City of Hoonah, and the neighboring communities of Game Creek, Elfin Cove, Glacier Bay, and Funter Bay. The proposed detachment includes all land within the Sitka boundary on Chichagof Island and land within the Haines boundary that borders Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve and on the Southern Chilkat Peninsula.

    The proposed detachment includes the neighboring community of Excursion Inlet. The proposed Xunaa Borough’s boundary and detachment follow the natural geography of the following waterways that abut Chichagof Island, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, and the Southern Chilkat Peninsula: Gulf of Alaska, Cape Cross, Cross Sound, Glacier Bay, Icy Strait, Northern Chatham Strait, and Peril Strait.

    According to the city, the proposed Xunaa Borough’s boundaries are "on a regional scale, and include the necessary land and water to provide municipal services effectively to residents of these locales."

    The city also states that their objectives in forming the Xunaa Borough and detaching lands currently within Sitka and Haines include, but are not limited to, "raising significant revenue to benefit Xunaa Borough residents through commercial fishing and fish processing activity, tourism activity, promoting greater local responsibilities by becoming the economic and transportation hub for Chichagof Island, Glacier Bay National Park, and the Southern Chilkat Peninsula and the surrounding waterways, providing needed services within these underserved areas, promoting orderly growth and development within these areas, and providing more accountability to all who will be served."

    The underserved areas included in the Xunaa Borough incorporation and detachment petition are remote, without road access or ferry service (ferry service is limited to the City of Hoonah), and it is difficult, if not impossible, to provide those residing there with needed services.

    Hoonah is the largest Tlingit village in Southeast Alaska.

    "Culturally, the objective of the proposed Xunaa Borough incorporation and detachment petition is to properly include in the Xunaa Borough the coasts, embayments, coastal forests, lakes, and rivers that have been used since time immemorial for hunting, fishing, and settlement by the Tlingit clans that originated in Glacier Bay – Kaagwaantaan, Wooshkeetaan, T’akdeintaan, and Chookaneidi."

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