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Hickel, Walter Joseph, 1919–2010, U.S. secretary of the interior (1969–70), b. Claflin, Kan. After moving to Alaska in 1940, he founded (1947) a construction company and built it into a multimillion-dollar firm. He led the fight for Alaskan statehood and served (1966–69) as governor. Appointed secretary of the interior by President Nixon, Hickel proved to be a strong environmentalist; he supported a bill that placed liability on oil companies for offshore oil spills and demanded environmental safeguards in the construction of the Alaskan pipeline. After he sharply criticized (May, 1970) President Nixon's hostility to student antiwar demonstrators, relations between the two men deteriorated until Hickel was forced (Nov., 1970) to resign. In 1990 he was again elected governor of Alaska but chose not to run for reelection in 1994. He was the author of Who Owns America? (1971).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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