As the issue of race seemed to be at the heart of the discussion, George Sundborg, a newspaper editor from Juneau and chair of the Committee on Style and Drafting, proposed to delete the words “Indians, Aleuts or Eskimos” and substitute the word “Alaskan.” This would eliminate what he saw as the inherent racism of singling out specific rights only for Alaska Natives. On a quick voice vote Sundborg’s amendment passed, so that the final text of what had started out as the Marston Amendment to protect the land rights for Alaska Natives in the villages made no reference to race whatsoever.

After a roll call vote the Marston Amendment went down to defeat by a 16 to 34 vote. Though bitterly disappointed, Marston made sure that the convention went on record on the Native land claims issue. Shortly before the convention adjourned in early February, the convention passed a nonbinding resolution that said:

"Whereas many Native Alaskans suffer great inequities by virtue of basic conflicts between the historic native concept of use and occupancy of land and property ownership as known today, and whereas such conflict has never been fully resolved in Alaska, and whereas many Native Alaskans suffer uncertainty in their use and possession of properties long occupied as homes, hunting camps and fishing sites, and whereas substantial grants of land will be made to the State of Alaska by the United States, subject to state selection:

“Now therefore be it resolved by the Alaska Constitutional Convention that the first Alaska state legislature is hereby urged that the State in its initial selection of lands make provision to correct such inequities and to remove these uncertainties regarding native homes, hunting camps, and fishing sites, by granting to qualified claimants title to them. This resolution shall not prejudice or bear upon pending aboriginal claims matters. The proper federal agencies are urged pending statehood to hasten the issuance of patents in all proper cases to native land claimants and otherwise to adjudicate native land claims."

“Future historians and students who study this Constitution,” Marston told the delegates, “will never understand why we don’t mention the great people who lived here before we came.” Urged on by Marston, the convention passed the resolution urging timely federal attention to the looming issue of Native land claims.

Following Marston's passionate appeal for Native land rights in late November, he did not raise the topic again until January 18, when he returned, in his own distinctive style, to George Lockwood's problem in Unalakleet.

Marston considered the issue of native land rights the most important task before the convention, and after he failed to convince the Resources Committee to tackle the matter, he introduced a resolution on the floor to guarantee the "traditional rights" of Native Alaskans and provide "just compensation" for any "impairment or extinction" of those rights from future state-owned land.

If the Marston Amendment had passed it would have radically altered the future of Alaska history by requiring the State of Alaska to address the issue of Native Land Claims instead of leaving the question up to the federal government.

Some of the delegates enthusiastically supported Marston's proposal. Delegate John McNees of Nome, who had been born in Idaho and spent some of his early years on Indian reservations, compared the plight of the Alaska Natives to that of all Alaskans in their struggle with the federal government. But most delegates were skeptical. Burke Riley of the Resources Committee explained that his committee had rejected the amendment, because they had concluded that the issue was beyond the power of the convention to address, that it was strictly a federal not a state matter. Another delegate claimed the Marston Amendment would threaten the foundation of Alaska's economic development by casting a shadow over the title to every acre in the Territory.

After more debate Vice President Frank Peratrovich from Klawock, the lone Alaska Native among the 55 delegates, finally and reluctantly decided to weigh in on the Marston Amendment. Peratrovich's comments indicated just how different the situation was for the Southeast Alaska Tlingit at that time, especially compared to Alaska Natives living elsewhere in the Territory.

Throughout the 1950s the Tlingit and Haida were in the midst of a long, drawn-out lawsuit on appeal asking for compensation for ancestral lands they had lost when Teddy Roosevelt created the Tongass National Forest in the early 1900s, and Peratrovich took pains to indicate that while he supported the Marston Amendment, he refused to ask for any "special privilege" for himself or his tribe.

As the issue of race seemed to be at the heart of the discussion, George Sundborg, a newspaper editor from Juneau and chair of the Committee on Style and Drafting, proposed to delete the words "Indians, Aleuts or Eskimos" and substitute the word "Alaskan." This would eliminate what he saw as the inherent racism of singling out specific rights only for Alaska Natives. On a quick voice vote Sundborg's amendment passed, so that the final text of what had started out as the Marston Amendment to protect the land rights for Alaska Natives in the villages made no reference to race whatsoever.

After a roll call vote the Marston Amendment went down to defeat by a 16 to 34 vote. Though bitterly disappointed, Marston made sure that the convention went on record on the Native land claims issue. Shortly before the convention adjourned in early February, the convention passed a nonbinding resolution that said:

"Whereas many Native Alaskans suffer great inequities by virtue of basic conflicts between the historic native concept of use and occupancy of land and property ownership as known today, and whereas such conflict has never been fully resolved in Alaska, and whereas many Native Alaskans suffer uncertainty in their use and possession of properties long occupied as homes, hunting camps and fishing sites, and whereas substantial grants of land will be made to the State of Alaska by the United States, subject to state selection".

"Now therefore be it resolved by the Alaska Constitutional Convention that the first Alaska state legislature is hereby urged that the State in its initial selection of lands make provision to correct such inequities and to remove these uncertainties regarding native homes, hunting camps, and fishing sites, by granting to qualified claimants title to them. This resolution shall not prejudice or bear upon pending aboriginal claims matters. The proper federal agencies are urged pending statehood to hasten the issuance of patents in all proper cases to native land claimants and otherwise to adjudicate native land claims."

"Future historians and students who study this Constitution," Marston told the delegates, "will never understand why we don't mention the great people who lived here before we came." Urged on by Marston, the convention passed the resolution urging timely federal attention to the looming issue of Native land claims.