“DANSRD Remembers Dr. Gordon L. Pullar Sr.” by Jenny Bell Jones

On behalf of the Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development staff, faculty and students I extend our deepest condolences to the family of Dr. Gordon L. Pullar Sr. who took his final walk into the forest on April 18th.  His family including his son, Gordon Pullar Jr. his daughter in law Diana Rose Pullar, his grandson Little Gordy, his wife, Flossie Leavitt-Pullar, daughter Tracy Pullar Cascio and all other family members are in our thoughts and prayers.

Dr. Pullar was a huge part of DANSRD and UAF for 20 years. He retired in 2014 with Emeritus status after serving first as Director of the Alaska Native Human Resource Development Program and then as Director of the Department of Alaska Native and Rural Development (now DANSRD), but he continued to work on some in progress graduate committees into 2016. He was revered not only for his academic brilliance that shone through in a long list of scholarly publications, but also for his willingness to help all students no matter what the question was, and most of all for his overall kindness to everyone he encountered. He served on my graduate committee and then, when DANSRD hired me, insisted that I drop the “Dr.” and just call him Gordon. A difficult task for someone who had placed him on a very high pedestal but I am remembering it here and will honor his request for the remainder of this piece.

Gordon’s focus on teaching came about because of his commitment to students and his strong scholarly interests – – especially in leadership, in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and the events leading to its passing, and in cultural preservation and documentation.  He was known internationally for his work in those areas.  With those areas of expertise, he created the graduate symposium on Circumpolar & Indigenous Leadership, which was to serve as a foundation course for graduate students in Rural Development.

Gordon touched the lives of so many both within DANSRD and in the larger Alaskan community. He served on the Tangirnaq Native Village Tribal Council, the Koniag Education Foundation, the Alaska Federation of Natives Board of Directors, and as President of the Kodiak Area Native Association. He guided so many of us through graduate programs and then continued to mentor us as we went out into the world. We always knew we could count on him for feedback or answers to all the crazy questions that grad students come up with. His lessons were well learned by many, and he left a legacy of coursework and good solid advice which will be used long into the future.

We are happy that Gordon got to spend his last years with a wonderful wife and was able to take some nice vacations that were shared on Facebook. Those who met him along the way know that he had worked long and hard for that time off. Gordon was an athlete as well as a scholar and there will be no limits on that now. May his spirit soar with the eagles and his feet run forever free!

Service will be on May 5th at 3p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Anchorage.

DANSRD congratulates ANS graduate Sharon Hildebrand: by Jenny Bell Jones

DANSRD would like to congratulate ANS graduate Sharon Hildebrand on her election as Vice President of Tanana Chiefs Conference.  Sharon is a 2013 graduate from our program who then continued her education and earned a Master’s of Public Administration from UAS in 2018. She was a stellar student who refused to let numerous challenges prevent her from reaching her educational goals.

Sharon is originally from Nulato but has made Fairbanks her home with her husband and sons where we are lucky to be able to call them neighbors. She is currently employed by Doyon Limited as their Village Outreach Liaison.

She has an exemplary record of public service and leadership and currently serves on the Board of Fairbanks Native Association in addition to her new position with TCC. She has been involved with youth hockey in Fairbanks and has raised her sons to be hard working respectful young men that we can all be proud of. She has been involved with the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District as a curriculum review committee member and she is active with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. She serves on her Village Corporation Board of Directors and as a board member for Get out the Native Vote. She has a passion for singing Denakka songs of Nulato & Kaltag and is a strong advocate for the Indigenous languages. She is active with the Denakkanaaga Elders organization … and these are just the major highlights.

Sharon took the tools that both traditional and western education gave her and used them for the benefit of so many. We wish her all the best and when anyone asks where they might go with an ANS degree I will tell them to look no further than Sharon and do their best to follow in her shoes. She has provided a fine example for all to follow.   

“The Alaska Historical Society Guide to Sources for the Study of ANCSA” by Dr. Charleen Fisher and Dr. William Schnieder

With the 50 year anniversary of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), the Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development (DANSRD) would like to share the Guide to Sources of Study for ANCSA as developed by the Alaska Historical Society (AHS). This blog entry will include an overview of the guide as well as highlight an example. We recommend that you use the Guide in your research activities.

The Alaska Historical Society is quickly moving from annotating sources to include in the master Guide to Sources on ANCSA to the next stage, formatting and managing the 700 plus page document. Karen Brewster is ably managing this compilation. The Guide will contain six sections:

  1. An introduction explaining the scope of the project and how the Guide is organized. 
  2. A second section lists collections by archive or holding institution.
  3. A third section that actually describes the content of collections at each site that relates to ANCSA. This third section is indexed down to the box and folder level when possible and is meant to give researchers a path to content that relates to their area of interest. To access the actual content they will need to go to the archive where it is held. 
  4. The fourth section of the Guide is an annotated bibliography of sources that are readily available in published or printed form in library holdings. 
  5. A fifth section is a listing of key players in the ANCSA movement. A one or two sentence describes each person’s role. 
  6. The sixth and final section of the Guide is a compilation of curriculum that has been developed over the years with a listing of key discussion topics for educators teaching this topic. 

An Example of How to Use the Guide 

Photo title: “Chiefs’ Conference at Tanana”, 1962. Bear Ketzler Collection, UAF Archives. Photo dated 1962. Photo number UAF 1992-202-18. 

One of the collections featured in the Guide is for Al Ketzler Sr., an Interior Native leader who worked for land claims. A collection of material was deposited at the Rasmuson Library, Alaska and Polar Regions Archives and is described in the Guide to Sources on ANCSA in sections 2 and 3 of the Guide.

Section 2

Al Ketzler Sr. Collection

Al Ketzler Sr. is an Athabascan leader from Nenana, Alaska who actively worked for the recognition of Native rights and was instrumental in organizing Native leaders in the Interior in the 1960s about land ownership issues prior to the Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement Act. The collection covers the years 1961-1977, and topics of particular interest addressed by this collection include:

  • Material and correspondence from the first Chiefs Meeting in Nenana and subsequent meeting in Tanana in 1962, and the Dena’ Nena’ Henash (Our Land Speaks) organization that Ketzler was chairman of and its conference in Tanana in 1963; 
  • Material and correspondence related to the Alaska Native Rights Association; 

Correspondence and supporting reference to key people involved in early Native land claims efforts: Kay Hitchcock (English Department, UAF); Sandra Jensen (local Fairbanksan involved in helping the people of Nenana with their “land problem”); Charles Purvis (whose daughter, DeLois, was married to Al Ketzler and was a local Fairbanksan involved in helping the people of Nenana with their “land problem”); Grant Newman (Director of the Alaska Native Rights Association); Henry Forbes, LaVerne Madigan and William Byler of the Association of American Indian Affairs (AAIA) in New York City that supported Ketzler’s land claims efforts and helped provide funding; and William L. Paul, Sr, who was Tlingit and a Native rights attorney.

To see the listing of sources, researchers go to section 3 of the Guide where they find the following description:

  1. Al Ketzler, Sr. Collection 

Box 4: Alfred Ketzler Sr., Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement Collection (Accession 84-044)

Box 4

Folder 10

“Chiefs’ Conference, Tanana, Alaska, June 24-26, 1962”

“Dena’ Nena’ Henash” (Our Land Speaks)

“Reflections on the Impacts of ANCSA over the past 50 years” by DANSRD Director Emeritus Miranda Wright

In the following piece, Director Emeritus of the Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development, reflects on the fight for land claims in the Interior and the impact of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. Professor Wright joined the then Department of Alaska Native Rural Development in 2001 and was the director of the department from 2010 to 2014. Professor Wright brought tremendous knowledge, education, experience, and passion to the department and was the force behind the department’s “ANCSA Impact Series.” She has served on the Doyon, Limited Board of Directors since 1995 and is currently the treasurer. We are honored that Professor Wright took the time to share her reflections with us.

Reflections on the Impacts of ANCSA over the past 50 years

by Director Emeritus Miranda Wright

Fifty years since the historic passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act offers the opportunity to reflect on the past and to speculate on our path forward.  Indigenous peoples have lived in Alaska for tens of thousands of years.  Contact with Western cultures over the past century brought stress on natural, cultural and wildlife resources.  This stress came to the forefront in Interior Alaska in 1915 when plans surfaced to build a railroad from a coastal port in southcentral Alaska to the northern terminus at Nenana in Interior Alaska.  The Native village of Nenana witnessed their traditional cemetery excavated and moved by the federal government to accommodate the construction of a railroad and railroad bridge across the Tanana River.

This encroachment on traditional/cultural lands and land ownership claims caused enough concern among Athabascan tribes from the lower Tanana River that a meeting was called with federal officials.  This first meeting of the Tanana Chiefs marked the beginning of tribal and government relationships for Interior Alaska.  The meeting was held in Fairbanks with Judge James Wickersham, Alaska Territorial delegate to Congress, presiding. At this meeting, the Chiefs expressed the importance of sustaining our lifestyle through employment, education, health care, and land protection.  Land protection was specifically discussed as managing access to lands and traditional subsistence hunting and fishing.

The Alaska Railroad and later the proposed Rampart Dam are two major government efforts that rocked the Athabascan communities.  Then came statehood in 1959 and a massive land grab. The feeling of being transparent or downright invisible to the newly established State government, resulted in thirty-two interior tribal villages convening a meeting in 1962 to protect our lands.  The meeting was held in Tanana and adopted the moniker Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC).  Twenty-Four of the represented villages signed a petition that was hand carried to Washington DC.  This led to Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall to freeze further land selections by the State of Alaska. 

Nearly every Indigenous region across Alaska were experiencing similar land selection pressures and folks began asking “Who owns Alaska?”  These concerns resulted in a statewide meeting in 1966 of seventeen Native organizations and over 400 Alaska Natives to address aboriginal land rights.  Labeled the Alaska Federation of Natives, this three-day conference became the unifying voice for all Alaska Natives in the fight for land claims.  After years of debate, compromise, and frequent travels to and from Washington DC by Alaska Native leaders, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) was signed into law by President Richard Nixon on December 18, 1971.

ANCSA redefined federal Indian policy in Alaska and mandated that both regional and village corporations be owned by Alaska Native shareholders.  This governing structure placed corporate ownership into the hands of Alaska Natives.

Here in the interior, Doyon, Limited took on the monumental task of land selection and analysis of areas designated for future resource development, which would be protected as sacred and historic sites, and mapping out subsistence areas.  Much have changed with ANCSA over the past fifty years.  Corporate stock can no longer be sold, several corporations, including Doyon, have opened enrollment to Alaska Natives born after 1971.  Alaska Native Corporations are major economic drivers in Alaska and continue to make strides in becoming visible in the decision-making process that impacts all Alaskans.

Reflections on the ANCSA Impact Series by Catherine Brooks

The piece below, written by DANSRD Associate Professor Cathy Brooks, reflects on what she learned participating in the ANCSA Impact Series, culminating in a series of panel discussions and presentations hosted by the UAF Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development (DANSRD) and collectively titled “The Impact of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) on Alaska 1971-2011.” The event was held in the Wood Center Ballroom on the UAF campus on October 5 and 6, 2011, in observation of the 40th anniversary of the passage of the act. Recordings of that event, totaling more than 10 hours, are now available online through the UAF Elmer E. Rasmuson Library’s Alaska and Polar Regions Collections & Archives digital repository (https://bit.ly/31SYIRz). Early in 2022, DVDs of these videos will also be available for checkout through the library. For more information, please contact the archives at UAF-APR-reference-Service@alaska.edu

Reflections on the ANCSA Impact Series

Catherine Brooks, Associate Professor, Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development

During the summer and fall of 2011, a series of public lectures and presentations were coordinated by the Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development (DANSRD) in conjunction with the Office of the Chancellor, UA Office of Academic Affairs, and the College of Rural and Community Development, called “The Impact of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) Series.”1  

The Impact of ANCSA Series events included a summer lecture, “The Children of ANCSA: A discussion with Willie and Elizabeth Hensley,” a September lecture, “Byron Mallot Shares Reflections,” and a two-day event held in October 2011 featuring numerous speakers from across Alaska.  At the time, I was one of the people in the department assisting with the event. The event was the brainstorm of Miranda Wright, who served as the director of DANSRD at the time.  Miranda understood the importance of ANCSA and had lived the changes it had brought.  She chose a reflections format with the idea there was a lot of information and a lot of directions one could go on addressing the topic.  The reflections allowed for a telling of history using personal stories about what the time was like, why they did some of the things they did, and how things had changed in the forty years since passage.

Ironically, it has only been in my own reflection that I realize how impactful the series was on me.  The event helped me appreciate the issues and the people involved.  Most of the Alaska Natives involved were doing the best they could for the land, people, and culture they loved. 

In Willie Hensley’s lecture, he credited his Inupiat upbringing to being able to persevere through the battle for the land.  He learned, “you can’t afford to quit; if you quit here, you die.”2 He also shared how in completing the research for one of his college courses, he “owned the understanding”3 of the issue.  His understanding of the lands issue helped create the call that Alaska Natives needed to do something.  In Byron Mallot’s talk, he emphasized how the initial battle was “not about economics, but about the land, land that needs to be taken care of for future generations.”4 Mallot also spoke of how his mother emphasized it was going to need to be his generation, not hers that made a difference, as “she did not fit” in that world.

The panel discussions focused on history, economics, environment, women, social change, governance, education, and leadership. The numerous stories and sharing in the reflections are full of insights that can help us understand today even better.  Many of the individuals that participated in the panels have passed on and I feel fortunate to have heard their stories and sharing.  I was shuffling back through my notes on the event (yes, I still have them ten years later) and found myself looking for themes.  Although many did not use the word, I would say that resilience and working together definitely emerged as themes.  I wish I had written down who said it, but in the margin of my notes, I had, “If you want to know, go out and seek.” 

__________________________

  1. Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development, The Impact of Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act on Alaska 1971-2011, 2011, Fairbanks, AK: Yahdii Media, 2011. DVD
  2. Hensley, Willie, and Elizabeth Hensley. “The Children of ANCSA: A discussion with Willie and Elizabeth Hensley,” Lecture, Impact of ANCSA Series, Fairbanks, AK, July 7, 2011.
  3. Hensley, “Children.”
  4. Mallott, Byron. “Byron Mallott Shares Reflections.” Lecture, Impact of ANCSA Series, Fairbanks, AK, September 13, 2011.

Addressing Alaska Native Corporations and Their Need to Open Enrollment for “New Natives” by Rural Development MA student Jolene Nanouk

Addressing Alaska Native Corporations and Their Need to Open Enrollment for “New Natives”

Adapted from “Case Study of Doyon Limited and Calista

 by Jolene Nanouk DANSRD student

The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) was enacted on December 18, 1971, allowing Alaska Natives born on or before this date with 1/4 blood quantum to be enrolled as shareholders in the village and regional corporations they wished to enroll in (Linxwiler, n.d.).  Twelve regional corporations and just over 200 village corporations were formed because of ANCSA.  Regional corporations own the subsurface rights of the land and village corporations own the surface rights of the land.  Shareholders have the responsibility to keep these Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) sustainable, protect the land and allow their ANCs to be profitable, and provide for their shareholders via electing their Board of Directors to help run these ANCs.

ANCSA is celebrating its 50th anniversary since it was established.  Since then, the 1991 Amendments, which originated as 1991 resolutions that were adopted in March of 1985, allowed individual corporations to open enrollment for those born after the ANCSA enactment (“1991 Amendments – Alaska Federation of Natives Newsletter” 2021). 50 years later, 6 of the 12 regional corporations have opened enrollment for their “New Natives” or “Afterborns”, allowing them to enroll into their regional corporations and become active members of their corporations. The 6 regional ANCs are Ahtna, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, NANA, Doyon Ltd., Sealaska Corporation, and just recently Calista Corporation (Sullivan 2021).  These ANCs have different types of classes of stock issued for enrollment such as life stock, stock for 1/4 or more blood quantum, stock for 1/4 or less blood quantum, lineal descent enrollment, a stock with votes for 18 years of age and older, and even Elder stock. Each ANC is different, and to be honest, it dilutes the value of the existing stock, but by not opening enrollment, it disenfranchises what is our birthright as Alaska Native people to be landowners of our communities and regions. Therefore, it is up to each ANC to decide what type of stock to issue if they choose to open enrollment within each village and regional corporation.  The issue is that there is the remainder of the regional and village corporations who have not opened their enrollment, and how these corporations plan to continue if they only rely on the descendants who have inherited/gifted shares.

The case study I reviewed is two regional corporations: Doyon Limited and Calista Corporation. These two regional corporations have opened enrollment to those born after December 18, 1971. There are similarities and differences regarding the way they opened enrollment and how their companies have shared information with their shareholders. Before I review these corporations, I will go over “wise practices” used in regards to promoting opening enrollment and how these practices should be used to promote this type of community development for the future of Alaska Native Corporations and their stakeholders.

Wise Practices

When the 1987 Amendments were passed, I was attending an Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) Elders and Youth Leadership Conference in Anchorage, Alaska. What struck me, was when a small Inupiat woman named Marie Greene stood in front of all the youth and said very boldly “A Native is a Native is a Native!” Visionaries like Marie KasaNnaaluk Greene were advocating for change. In the Arctic Sounder Newspaper, published on August 8, 2014, it states “NANA Regional Corporation president and CEO KasaNnaaluk Marie N. Greene doesn’t differentiate when it comes to her corporation and her people. They are one and the same.” (Arctic Sounder, 2014). Marie Greene who had advocated for change and seeing everyone as the same regardless of the ANCSA date of enactment sets precedence for others to follow change and it is unlocking grassroots action for change and seeing this change through a different lens like Foucault explains regarding power and leadership and to becoming “self-determining agents that resist and challenge power structures” (“Community Development in Action: Putting Freire into Practice: Ledwith, Margaret.)

Advocates like Marie Greene, voicing concern regarding the issue of leaving out those born after the ANCSA enactment, communicating with others about the issue, raising awareness, advocating for change, including all people to be involved, and bringing up discussions to why it is important for their people, their company and their future are “wise practices” as an example for others to follow. Her regional corporation, NANA, had opened enrollment for those born after the ANCSA enactment.

Case Study

            In order to understand the process of opening enrollment, a letter of intent was sent out to 5 of the regional corporations that had opened enrollment.   Doyon Limited graciously replied and shared with me their wise practices.   One important aspect is communication. Communicating with shareholders, with community members, and with family and friends. The corporation went to the villages, held meetings in the schools or places big enough to meet at, and communicated with all those about the issue of opening enrollment. In addition, they communicated through surveys: surveys were sent to the original shareholders and asked if they would like to open enrollment. Once the shareholders decided on opening enrollment, another survey was sent out to decide what type of shares should be distributed. Listed below are the types of shares Doyon Ltd. chose to do based on the surveys and communicating with their shareholders. They also did videos to inform the shareholders and had many special newsletters sent out regarding enrollment. The major role players participating in the discussions were the board of directors and youth advisors regarding this issue.

Within the Doyon website, access to videos on their portal includes videos that their shareholders voiced on “what it means to be a shareholder” as well as an informative video regarding questions on records and class stock. Class C stock is available for children who are descendants of original shareholders of Doyon Class A, B, C, or D shareholder, ¼ or more Alaska Native blood quantum, born after December 18, 1971, and not enrolled into any other regional corporation, Arctic Village, Venetie or Metlakatla. Doyon Limited’s website is very informative for their shareholders and makes accessibility to knowing what is happening for their shareholders and very transparent in how they run their business. (“Records & Stocks – Doyon, Limited” 2019).

Calista Corporation has recently opened their enrollment to their descendants, using the use of life estate stock meaning that the stock/shares would go back to the corporation once the shareholders pass away.  One thing Calista chose to do is have the open enrollment as lineal descent rather than requiring their descendants to be ¼ Alaskan Native blood quantum. The Calista Corporation went from 14,000 Class A or B shareholders to an additional 12,000 Class C and D shareholders, with maybe another 17,000 who have missed enrollment. The voting on adding the descendants into their corporation was passed in 2015, but it took until 2017 to enroll the additional 12,000 Class C or D shareholders. The process of opening enrollment given this information provided by Calista sounds like it takes time with the process of communication, being transparent, using surveys, understanding what the original shareholders want, and implementing what they would like to do.

Calista’s website for their shareholders is also very informative, using videos and a welcome packet pdf that can also be viewed online. Within the welcome packet, the information given in these categories includes: 

  • Shareholder Benefits: Shareholder Hire Preference, Job Opportunities, Talent Bank, Dividends, Scholarships, Burial Assistance.
  • Shareholder Rights: Elect Directors to the Calista board, Run for A Seat on the Board of Directors, Shareholder Resolutions, Amend Bylaws, Review Records, Be Informed.
  • Shareholder Responsibilities: Be Engaged, Voting Your Proxy, Helping Calista Meet Quorum, Keeping your information up to date, Completing a Stock Will or Beneficiary Designation form.
  •  Access to Resources: Shareholder Web Portal, Contact Information. (“Welcome New Shareholders – Calista Corporation” 2020).

Wise practices that utilize resources available to your shareholders, using communication whether through technology, verbally holding meetings to provide information and feedback,  surveys, videos, newsletters, and in-person through email or at the buildings provided are excellent ways to reach out to others. Communication, transparency, advertisements, being informative, educating others, working together, thinking ahead, and being accessible and accountable for the action of the company is important for the community development of these two corporations.  These tools of “wise practices” and examples that these two regional corporations have can be used to help the ANCs that have not opened enrollment, and allow the ANCs to move forward if they are considering it. 

Conclusion

            Who will benefit from this knowledge of wise practices for open enrollment in ANCs that have not opened enrollment? The question answers itself, everyone and every ANC  that has not opened enrollment. All ANCs need to continue to advertise, communicate, be transparent, use newsletters, hold special meetings, post videos, blogs, and surveys to find out what the shareholders foresee in the future of their corporations. By using these types of wise practices, the ANCs can find out whether or not their shareholders would like to open enrollment, and if they do, they can figure out what type of stocks they would prefer to have: life estate stock, a stock that is open to those turning 18 or not, a stock with or without voting rights based on age, stock restrictions based on blood quantum or lineal descent, and then restrictions of those who can and cannot apply (such as whether or not they are already enrolled in and received stock from a different ANC). Although these wise practices cannot solve the issue of opening enrollment, it is a start for ANCs to consider. The use of these wise practices can help the ANCs interested in opening enrollment, and help give ideas of what each ANC should consider regarding the process and options that the shareholders have to decide on if they chose to move forward.

The real question is understanding whether or not the original shareholders understand that the continuation of gifting and willing shares can cause dwindling of stock, unfairness that not all descendants would become shareholders, and how the future of the ANC would look another 50 years from now if they continue to push aside not opening new stock for all those born after the ANCSA enactment. The concern is not just for the rest of the regional corporations that have not opened enrollment; it is also for the village corporations who may or may not be barely hanging on, based on how well they are making it after 50 years. The concern of protecting the land base in the villages, the future of our people, and where they are living. This whole issue has so many concerns not just on the business side of community development, but how our people are “one and the same,” as Marie Greene stated, and deserve to be treated equally and be able to voice their concerns regarding the ANCs. The ¼ blood quantum issue is also concerning, and lineal descent can be an answer, but it all depends on the current shareholders and what they feel about whether or not to enroll them, and if so, does it matter if you are ⅕ Alaska Native or 24%, Alaskan Native, to qualify for enrollment. We all come from the same ancestors, we live on the same land, and we should be qualified to take care of the land and its resources like our ancestors once did and for what our leaders fought for 50 years ago. We need a mindset like Marie Greene, where “a Native is a Native is a Native”, and be willing to think ahead together as one.                

 Please consider those who may not have had inherited shares, because all the shares might have been willed to one person and not equally distributed amongst family members.  Also, the gifting of original shares dwindles and over time, becomes barely anything.  A solution to this problem is to open enrollment for those who were born after the ANCSA enactment and to include everyone. The future generations’ blood quantum will continue to get smaller as time passes, and the process of allowing kinship and lineal descent as a qualification rather than blood quantum should be considered.

In conclusion, all ANCs will have a tool of past open enrollment ANCs to look upon, especially for the village ANCs which I am concerned about. Identifying what would work best for each ANC, observing and using what current ANCs have done, and understanding that the future of the ANCs depends on these future descendants and the work put into advocating for our land rights based on why ANCSA was passed would not have been done for nothing, because all the descendants and our future will be able to continue to take care of our lands and continue to run these ANCs for the betterment of our people. This truly is why all ANCs should be opening enrollment. 

Acknowledging the future of the ANC, acknowledging the future generations and their responsibilities need to be addressed now by allowing the ANCs to incorporate new shares for those being left out. We need to become whole again as a people, and this is just one step in addressing this issue. Now is the time that we can work towards a healthier future for our ANCs, our land, and our people.

References

Alaska Newspapers, Inc. 2014. “Greene to Retire after 13 Years at Helm of NANA.” Thearcticsounder.com. 2014. http://www.thearcticsounder.com/article/1432greene_to_retire_after_13_years_at_helm_of.

“Community Development in Action: Putting Freire into Practice: Ledwith, Margaret.

Linxwiler, James. n.d. “THE ALASKA NATIVE CLAIMS SETTLEMENT ACT: THE FIRST TWENTY YEARS.” Accessed October 23, 2021. https://ancsa.lbblawyers.com/wp-content/ uploads/ANCSA-Paper-with-Table-of-Contents-1992.pdf.

“1991 Amendments – Alaska Federation of Natives Newsletter.” 2021. Alaskool.org. 2021. http://www.alaskool.org/projects/ancsa/articles/afn_newsletters/afn_newsletter.htm.

“Records & Stocks – Doyon, Limited.” 2019. Doyon.com. 2019. https://www.doyon.com/shareholders/records/.

Sullivan, Meghan. 2021. “ANCSA@50: The Next Generation of Alaska Native Shareholders.” Indian Country Today. Indian Country Today. July 26, 2021. https:// indiancountrytoday.com/news/ancsa-50-the-next-generation-of-alaska-native- shareholders.

‌“Welcome New Shareholders – Calista Corporation.” 2020. Calista Corporation. January 16, 2020. https://www.calistacorp.com/welcome-calista-corp-shareholders/.

“‘Then fight for it’ Alaska Native Brotherhood and The Fight for Land and Fishing Rights” by Judith Daxootsu Ramos

In the piece that follows, Judith Daxootsu Ramos, DANSRD faculty from 2012 to 2021, discusses the early participation of the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood in the pursuit of land claims. This early involvement resulted in a different formula for deciding on the acreage to be conveyed to the qualifying villages in Southeast Alaska under ANCSA. In addition, the communities of Wrangell, Petersburg, Tenakee Springs, Ketchikan and Haines were excluded from forming Village Corporations and they are still fighting for recognition. At the end of this piece are the sections of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act that pertain to Southeast Alaska and the Tlingit-Haida settlement.

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“Then fight for it”

Alaska Native Brotherhood and The Fight for Land and Fishing Rights

Judith Daxootsu Ramos

“Then fight for it” are the famous words by Peter Simpson at the 1925 Alaska Native Brotherhood IANB) convention. In a conversation with Tlingit lawyer William L. Paul, Peter Simpson asked William, “Willie, who owns this land?”, William answered, “We do”. Peter Simpson, replied “Then fight for it”. It took William Paul four years to convince the ANB to begin the fight for land claims. It was at the 1929 ANB Grand Camp, at the urging of Judge Wickersham, the Tlingit and Haida tribes of southeast Alaska began the process of “filing a lawsuit against the United States seeking compensation for expropriated lands and fisheries” (Metcalf, 2010).

The Alaska Native Brotherhood (ANB) is one of the oldest Indigenous organizations in the United States. ANB was formed in 1912 by eleven Alaska Native men and one Native woman. The Alaska Native Sisterhood (ANS) was formed three years later. Their primary issues were the fight for citizenship and voting rights, civil rights, health, education, and the abolition of fish traps. Local camps were established around the state.

The ANB fight for fishing rights beginning in the 1930’s led to the movement for land claims. The abolition of fish traps was an important goal of ANB because salmon was the primary food source for the Tlingit and Haida Indians. Traditionally each clan owned and managed the streams and the harvest of salmon in their traditional territory. Canneries and their fish traps controlled the fishery in Alaska from the 1880’s until statehood in 1960. The White Act prohibited subsistence fishing within streams. “The Indians were conflicted about asking for full-blown reservations but worked with the Interior Department and pressed claims for aboriginal fishing rights. Eventually, the courts ruled that they had abandoned those rights when they went to work in the canneries for cash. Eventually, the Indians asked for reservations including fishing rights, but were rejected in that request by the Interior Department” (Colt, 2000).

ANB’s fight for land claims began with the establishment of the Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska in 1905 and the Glacier Bay National Monument in 1925, two acts by the Government that tied up the land under Federal ownership and extinguished aboriginal title to most of southeast Alaska. After repeated attempts to bring the case to the United States Court of Claims, Congress finally passed the Jurisdictional Act of 1935 which authorized the Tlingit and Haida Indians “to bring suit in the United States Court of Claims” (CCTHITA, 1995).

For various reasons the Department of Interior disqualified the ANB “from being the plaintiff in the lawsuit against the government” (Metcalf, 2010). The ANB executive created the Central Council for Tlingit and Haida Indians of Alaska for the purpose of land claims.  Judson Brown (1982) in an interview remembers their meetings in 1936, “I recall vividly our frantic attempts to raise money to hold both the ANB Convention and the Central Council meeting at the same time … the first Tlingit and Haida meetings we held in the evening after the ANB business was complete”.

In 1959 the Court of Claims issued a judgement recognizing the Tlingit and Haida Indians use and occupancy. Finally in 1968 the US Court of Claims issued the quantum judgment (CCTHITA, 1995). Judson Brown (Hope 1982) recalled “The amount we received in return for the land taken …. Was a mere pittance. We settled on pennies per acre”. In addition, because the Tlingit and Haida Indians had settled their land claims prior to the Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) of 1971, they were treated differently in the Act, they received less land, and some communities did not receive any land at all. Despite this, the ANB and ANS played a significant role in the success of Alaska Native land claims.

Metcalf’s (2010) research on the Alaska Native Brotherhood found “Without it (ANB), Alaska’s congressional delegates would have had no credible organization with which to collaborate on issues of importance to Alaska Natives; and without the ANB all those who represented Alaska Natives interests before Congress before statehood would have been without credentials. It was the ANB that fielded — and provided funding for — the lobbyists and attorneys who participated in defining Alaska aboriginal title. And it was the ANB that maintained the crucial alliance with the National Congress of American Indians”

Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts on land claims. My Lingit name is Daxootsu. I am Raven moiety, from the Kwaashki’kwaan clan, and Tiskw’ Hit (Owl House). I am the daughter of the Lʼuknax̱.ádi (Coho) Clan and granddaughter of the Teikweidí (Brown Bear) clan. I am a shareholder in the Sealaska Regional Corporation and the Yak-tat Kwaan Village Corporation. I am a member of the Yakutat Tlingit Tribe and Central Council for Tlingit and Haida Indians of Alaska.

My parents and grandparents were active in ANB and ANS. I served as President of the Yakutat Camp 13. ANB/ANS Camps are very busy in local communities. When someone passes away in the community, the camp hosts a memorial service. The ANB Hall serves as the center for local community activities, from traditional dance practice to potlatches, to meetings. There are currently around 23 local camps, but not all of them are active. This 109-year-old organization continues to pay an active role in many Alaska Native communities today.

************************************************************************

43 U.S. Code CHAPTER 33— ALASKA NATIVE CLAIMS SETTLEMENT

§ 1615. Withdrawal and selection of public lands; funds in lieu of acreage

(a) Withdrawal of public lands; list of Native villages

All public lands in each township that encloses all or any part of a Native village listed below, and in each township that is contiguous to or corners on such township, except lands withdrawn or reserved for national defense purposes, are hereby withdrawn, subject to valid existing rights, from all forms of appropriation under the public land laws, including the mining and mineral leasing laws, and from selection under the Alaska Statehood Act, as amended:

Angoon, Southeast.

Craig, Southeast.

Hoonah, Southeast.

Hydaburg, Southeast.

Kake, Southeast.

Kasaan, Southeast.

Klawock, Southeast.

Saxman, Southeast.

Yakutat, Southeast.

(b) Native land selections; Village Corporations for listed Native villages; acreage; proximity of selections; conformity to Lands Survey System

During a period of three years from December 18, 1971, each Village Corporation for the villages listed in subsection (a) shall select, in accordance with rules established by the Secretary, an area equal to 23,040 acres, which must include the township or townships in which all or part of the Native village is located, plus, to the extent necessary, withdrawn lands from the townships that are contiguous to or corner on such townships. All selections shall be contiguous and in reasonably compact tracts, except as separated by bodies of water, and shall conform as nearly as practicable to the United States Lands Survey System.

(c) Tlingit-Haida settlement

The funds appropriated by the Act of July 9, 1968 (82 Stat. 307), to pay the judgment of the Court of Claims in the case of The Tlingit and Haida Indians of Alaska, et al. against The United States, numbered 47,900, and distributed to the Tlingit and Haida Indians pursuant to the Act of July 13, 1970 (84 Stat. 431), are in lieu of the additional acreage to be conveyed to qualified villages listed in section 1610 of this title.

References

Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribe of Alaska (CCTHITA). 1995.    “Central Council Historical Profile” http://www.ccthita.org/documents/T&H%20Historical%20Brochure.pdf

Colt, Steve. 2000.   Salmon Fish Traps in Alaska: An Economic History Perspective. http://www.alaskool.org/projects/traditionalife/fishtrap/fishtrap.htm

Hope, Andrew III, ed. 1982. “On the Organization of the Tlingit and Haida Central Council, An Interview with Judson Brown.” In Raven Bones. Sitka Community Association.

Metcalf, Peter. 2010    “The Sword and the Shield: The Defense of Alaska Aboriginal Claims by the Alaska Native Brotherhood.” Contributor by Kathy Ruddy. http://ankn.uaf.edu/ANCR/Southeast/Chronology/LR%20Final%20Sword%20and%20Shield.pdf

Metcalfe, Peter. 2014. “A Dangerous Idea, The Alaska Native Brotherhood and the Struggle for Indigenous Rights.” University of Alaska Press.

For more information:

A Traditional Literary History of the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood: Writing Alaska Native Solidarity into American Modernity, talk given by Michael P. Taylor, Ph.D https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uu44PDabIDs&t=259s

In His Own Words, a Biography of William Lewis Paul, talk given by Benjamin Starr Paul https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmQuMHBbU98

Fighter in Velvet Gloves: Alaska Civil Rights Hero Elizabeth Peratrovich, talk given by Ann Boochever https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gzvcc1UlrMw

Paul, Fred. “Origin of the land Claim Movement” https://www.anbansgc.org/document-library/.

“An Outsider’s Thoughts on ANCSA” by Emeritus Professor Jenny Bell Jones

ANCSA changed the lives of everybody in Alaska. Whether you are Alaska Native, non-Native, or some “other” kind of Native as I am, your life has been affected by ANCSA if you have spent any length of time at all in the state. Alaska would not look the way it looks today were it not for the Act and the Corporations it created. ANCSA is woven throughout everything that happens in the state today and we cannot really understand what is going on unless we understand ANCSA.

Now for a disclosure, I am not an ANCSA shareholder. I am however an example of some of the many ways that non-shareholders have benefited from the legislation. I have a number of relatives and many friends who are shareholders.  I have been a scholar of the Act for a long time and I want to say “thank you” to all of those whose hard work made ANCSA possible.

ANCSA marked the beginning of a new chapter in my life. The very first class I ever took at UAF was an Alaska Native Studies course about ANCSA. This was in 1999 and, for the next 22 years, I would study ANCSA from every imaginable angle. Subsistence, law, the Doctrine of Christian Discovery, economics, finance, land management, tribal law, climate change, culture, ANCSA was always there. ANCSA guided my studies through 3 different degree programs. It provided me with the backdrop for all of my studies in Rural Development, and international indigenous law. Jobs with three different Regional Corporations helped me pay my way through school. I would go on to teach courses on the Act, and continue to study it today. I could not have had the successful academic career that I enjoyed without the help of ANCSA.

As I learned about the land claims period during the 1960s I was struck by how easily those who were fighting to protect the land could have failed. Their cause was not popular in Alaska which had a significant non-Native population that opposed any form of settlement. My study of territorial history found anti-Native racism so deeply embedded as to be invisible to much of the population that were perpetuating it.[1] A settlement was never a given. The men and women who fought for it are to be commended for succeeding against incredible odds. And we must remember that what they got was an Act of Congress, not a treaty or a negotiated settlement. It was not perfect but it was the best they could get: a tool to be used for the future. And an amazing achievement given what they were up against!

The 1990s/early 2000s was an exciting time to be a part of the Rural Development program at UAF. Through coursework, guest speakers and seminars, students had the incredible privilege of meeting many of the amazing people who, through hard work and sacrifice, had made ANCSA happen. Dr. Emil Notti, Dr. Willie Hensley, Dr. Gordon Pullar, Miranda Wright, Fred Bigjim, Jim LaBelle, Dixie Dayo, Darlene Wright, Alfred Ketzler Sr. and many others. Some are gone now:  John Borbridge, Senator John Sackett, Dr. Walter Soboleff, Byron Mallott, Alice Petrivelli, Charles Etok Edwardson Jr, but they shared their wisdom before they left us. These were people who played active parts in the land claims movement of the 1960s and then the implementation of the Act that followed. They gave generously of their time and encouraged us all to continue our studies and I for one am very grateful for their input.

It did not take long however for me to see that not everything in the ANCSA rose garden was perfect. As I became more assimilated into the Alaska Native community I realized that all was not well. I attended an unreasonable number of funerals. I comforted far too many friends who had lost children to suicide and accidents. There was poverty in many communities along with a lack of basic developments like water and sewer systems and responsive law enforcement. The State had unreasonably high levels of drug and alcohol abuse and I became very aware of the extreme levels of violence and sexual assault that persisted. In 2013 the Indian Law and Order Commission deemed public safety to be such a concern in rural Alaska that they devoted an entire chapter of their Report to Alaska.[2]   

Unemployment and homelessness rates were disproportionately high for Alaska Natives throughout the State. In many villages, unemployment topped 50% and what jobs there were skewed towards “government work” indicating a lack of private investment. Incarceration rates were also disproportionate and I observed some blatantly unjust court decisions that harmed Alaska Natives. I personally experienced the biased justice system on more than one occasion.

I learned that tribal governments had been omitted from ANCSA leaving them with very little in the way of resources to provide governance in their communities. I saw that there was often little in the way of partnership between ANCs and Tribes even though they served the same population. Tribes lacked the kind of territorial jurisdiction they needed to provide effective governance. Not everyone agreed about the kinds of development that were needed and who should pay for them.

There was active war ongoing between Tribes and the State of Alaska. The state of Alaska was spending large amounts of money disputing with tribes over the most basic parts of tribal sovereignty. These protracted legal battles consumed limited funds and energy from Tribes that could have been better spent in their communities. The state was spending public money to fight against its own citizens at the same time that it cried poor when asked to fund services in their communities.[3]

Today, subsistence continues to be a legal battle field. At least 60 disputes regarding subsistence went through the court systems during ANCSA’s first 50 years. And there are more coming. The extinguishment of aboriginal hunting and fishing rights in section 4(b) of ANCSA[4] has never been resolved in a way that worked for Alaska Native communities and the cost has been huge for everyone involved.

I understood then why some of the people I met were not happy with ANCSA and said that ANCSA was intended to terminate their very existence. Clearly there was still more work to be done. How might these conditions be improved?

Do I think that all the shortcomings I have noted are solely the fault of ANCSA? No, of course not.  there is far more to it than that. For instance, Congress could have passed legislation to correct the subsistence problems it failed to correct within Title 8 of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).[5] The State could have worked to develop subsistence law that would withstand legal challenge, perhaps learning from Hawaii’s Constitution.[6] The State of Alaska could have long since chosen to recognize Tribes and partner with them instead of fighting expensive court battles. There was nothing in ANCSA that forbade better working relationships between ANCs and Tribes. If the State had been able to meet its obligations in terms of law enforcement in the villages we would not be in the unenviable position of having our own chapter in the Indian Law and Order Commission’s Report. Obviously ANCSA was not the sole culprit but it did include a mandate to address “the real economic and social needs of Natives,”.[7] Could it actually do this? Were there tools hidden within the Act that were not being fully utilized and/or content that could be further amended that would go a long way to addressing some of the complaints.

The next 50 years.

When the Dawes General Allotment Act was passed in 1887 there was an expectation that assimilation would be complete within twenty-five years and Lower 48 Indian lands would become available to non-Indian buyers.[8] (This was supposed to benefit Indians both economically and socially). Things did not work out that way. Millions of acres of Indian lands were lost, and tribes were impoverished, and it has taken over 100 years for some Lower 48 tribes to recover while for others the work is still in progress. Those tribes did not give up, they did not just let go, and they used all the tools available to them to survive, but it took another Act of Congress, the Indian Reorganization Act in 1934, to slow the destruction. ANCSA has only been around for 50 years so, before we wonder why everything is not yet perfect, we might compare where we are now with where Lower 48 tribes were 50 years after the Dawes Act.  Alaska Natives have been using the tools, and in some areas the progress has been remarkable. Other areas still need work but we are in a much better place than the Lower 48 was 50 years after the Dawes Act.

When we look at the wording of the original ANCSA it seems remarkable that we are celebrating the 50th birthday. It was not intended to be this way. Hidden away in Section 7 was the following termination language:

Sec. 7. (h)(3) On January 1 of the 21st year after the year in which this Act is enacted, all stock previously issued shall be deemed to be canceled, and shares of stock of the appropriate class shall be issued without restrictions required by this Act to each stockholder share for share.”[9]

This language would have removed all the restrictions on the ANCSA shares after 20 years and placed them on the open market at which time they could have been freely sold by the Native shareholders, and bought by anybody who wished to participate. If this would’ve happened we can be sure that the landscape would look very different today and it would not have been positive for Alaska Native cultural continuity. Thanks to the “1991 Amendments”[10] the shares remain in restricted status today. The statute looks very different now and readers are encouraged to compare the original Section 7 with its update in the U.S. Code.[11]

It is tempting to take the position that because this sunset clause was amended to protect the Native ownership of the corporations, there is nothing more to worry about and we can simply move on. If we look carefully though, this is not the case. There have been numerous amendments to ANCSA but, most of these involve property rights. With the exception of these amendments, we still have a piece of legislation that has been in place for 50 years that was originally crafted around speedy assimilation if not outright termination. There are still many of the parts of ANCSA that are not working well in terms of the social and economic well-being of Alaska Natives today which can be traced back to the expectation of speedy assimilation and the understanding by Congress that Section 7 (h)(3) would be implemented.

Shareholder Continuity: If Sec. 7 (h)(3) had not been amended enrollment would have not been an issue after 1991. Thirty years later continuing enrollment is very important if the ANCs are to continue their work. ANCSA was amended to allow shareholders from each Corporation to vote to issue shares to Natives born after the December 18th 1971 cut off date. To date, six Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) and some Alaska Native Village Corporations (ANVCs) have voted to do this.[12]

Blood quantum requirements are often raised as a complaint about ANCSA but these were actually addressed in the 1991 Amendments. Section 2, Definitions, now includes:

“(r) “Descendant of a Native” means

  • a lineal descendant of a Native or of an individual who would have been a Native if such individual were alive on December 18, 1971, or (2) an adoptee of a Native or of a descendant of a Native, whose adoption (A) occurred prior to his or her majority, and (B) is recognized at law or in equity;”[13]

Shareholders can vote to enroll “new Natives” using linear descent rather than blood quantum, but only a couple of the ANCs (ASRC and Calista) have chosen to do this.[14] So, shareholders do have an option to vote to both enroll new Natives, and to remove the blood quantum requirement if they so choose. There are tools there to insure shareholder continuity if Corporations and shareholders want to use them however there could be future downsides to eliminating the blood quantum requirement that would need to be considered. If, for instance, a large percentage of current shareholders reside out of state as indicated in a 2012 GAO report,[15] their children who would qualify to be shareholders via lineal descent might have little or no connection to the land and see no reason to retain it in the future.

Tribal governance: ANCSA was silent on tribal governance in spite of having been presented by some as self-determination legislation. The Native leadership pursuing land claims could only do so much. Their primary focus was on securing the land. The omission of provisions for governance was unexpected. In Alaska Native Rights, Statehood, and Unfinished Business, Robert Anderson states:

It is understandable that Native leadership at the time would not have seriously considered that settlement of land claims necessarily diminished the authority of Native tribal governments. There were over 70 villages organized under the Indian Reorganization Act at the time, and most others operated under some form of traditional council governance.”[16]

Why did Congress ignore these governments? ANCSA’s failure to provide for self-governance speaks to the reality of the legislation as a property rights settlement, as well as to how Tribes were viewed in Alaska in 1971. Whatever the thinking may have been 50 years ago, it is now time to correct this and support the Tribes so that they can provide better governance. While in theory, a Village Corporation can convey some (or even all) of its land to a Tribe, this may not be the best solution. It leaves the land without the protections against alienation that ANCSA provides, and the Tribe may or may not be able to place that land into trust to gain Indian Country status and regain the protections.

It is up to Tribes and Corporations to come together and decide what they want for the next 50 years. There is no one size fits all so amending ANCSA cannot be the only solution. It should however at least be considered. Is Sec. 14 (c)(3) working to the best interests of the Native beneficiaries of ANCSA? If not, what would a better arrangement look like? Tribes, Municipalities, and Corporations need to work together to craft a workable amendment, and then gain the support of our congressional delegation to get the Act amended.   

Subsistence: This is perhaps the biggest failing of the Settlement and the hardest to fix. As noted earlier, there have been more than 60 subsistence related cases argued in court since the passage of ANCSA. This is a glaring failure of one of the mandates of the Act calling for the settlement to be “accomplished rapidly, with certainty, in conformity with the real economic and social needs of Natives, without litigation,”[17]  (bold font added). Subsistence is vital to both the social and economic needs of many Native communities. The existence of so many court disputes shows how badly ANCSA has failed in this area. Interestingly, very few of the court battles include ANCs or ANVCs as litigants; this expensive and time-consuming work has been left up to Tribes and individuals.

The courts are not the right place to obtain permanent protection for subsistence. A favorable court decision is only protective until it is overturned later on. Legislation at both the state and federal levels is needed. ANCSA has provided Alaska Natives with considerable political power but that power has not been sufficient yet to obtain meaningful changes to Alaska’s laws. Congress needs to take action but to get that action the ANCs, the ANVCs and the State will need to get behind that effort. And everyone will need to be on the same page in regards to what the fix will actually be.

Settlement Trusts and Endowment Models: What about the economic future for shareholders? What will we do when one or another ANC fails? Robert Sniggeroff and Craig Richards discuss this possibility in a 2021 Law Review article pointing out that all businesses have a natural lifespan and therefore we cannot expect them to support cultural continuity indefinitely.[18] The authors discuss the dual missions of ANCs to both create shareholder wealth and promote cultural continuity, and present some interesting options for the use of settlement trusts and other forms of trusts that some corporations are beginning to explore. Maximizing shareholder profit and wealth is not the only objective of an ANC.[19]  Sniggeroff and Richards suggest an endowment model similar to the Alaska Permanent Fund, noting that:

 “Operating business models are inconsistent with the very long-term life cycle of cultures. Endowment models are more consistent in terms of risk and longevity and are equally if not more consistent in terms of immediate cultural impact.[20]

ANCSA made provisions for the establishment of Settlement Trusts as part of the 1991 Amendments but there was not a lot of interest until the 2017 Tax Act opened the possibility of using them to reduce tax liability.[21] Since then some ANCs and ANVCs have encouraged shareholders to vote for their establishment. Sniggeroff and Richards note that Settlement Trusts will need to be used for more than the pass-through of corporate profits for tax purposes if they are to survive into the future as a support for cultural continuity and shareholder economic well-being.

Benefit Corporations: Could an ANC change its corporate structure to allow it to better support cultural continuity? In 2016, William Robinson discussed the possibility of the Benefit Corporation or B-Corp model for ANCs.[22] Proposed legislation to allow Alaska businesses to incorporate as B-Corps in 2017 did not move forward, but there is interest in the state and it is likely that Alaska will eventually join the majority of states that already have similar statutes. If we do, then this option would be available to shareholders if they decided to choose that route. B-Corps continue to operate businesses for profit but are also legally obligated to consider how their activities will benefit the public. A B-Corp could, for instance, do more to help Native communities maintain their subsistence lifestyles or provide funding to Tribes to build infrastructure in a community where not all the residents were shareholders. If Alaska enacts a benefit corporation statute this would provide ANC and ANVC shareholders with an alternative legal entity to consider.[23]

We should note that ANCSA already includes language that allows an ANC to lean towards what a B-Corp might provide should they wish to do so:

“(r) Benefits for Shareholders or Immediate Families. The authority of a Native Corporation to provide benefits to its shareholders who are Natives or descendants of Natives or to its shareholders’ immediate family members who are Natives or descendants of Natives to promote the health, education, or welfare of such shareholders or family members is expressly authorized and confirmed. Eligibility for such benefits need not be based on share ownership in the Native Corporation and such benefits may be provided on a basis other than pro rata based on share ownership.[24]

A change to B-Corp structure could not take place without a majority of shareholders voting for it and it would require a significant education effort in advance of that vote.

 Conclusion

Yes, the ANCs are doing very well in the business world. They are making great contributions to the state, paying dividends to shareholders, supporting scholarships and other forms of philanthropy, and providing funds to the various nonprofit organizations. They are employing Alaskans, both shareholders and non-shareholders. In these areas ANCSA continues to be a success. As noted in the GAO report for 2011, “The regional corporations provide a wide variety of benefits to their shareholders and other Alaska Natives. Under the Settlement Act, the corporations are authorized to provide benefits to promote the health, education, or welfare of shareholders and other Alaska Natives, but they are not required to do so.”[25] (bold font added) In some cases, ANCs and ANVCs  are doing these things in ways that are not obvious to all.

But there is more to life than money. Social conditions in many of Alaska’s Native communities continue to be sub-standard. Alaska’s tribal governments struggle without a land base and are overly dependent on federal funding. Communities lack proper law enforcement. There are continuing questions about the future of younger Alaska Natives who are not shareholders and how they will participate in the Settlement in the future. ANCSA was not designed to last forever in its current form and it is now time for young shareholders and tribal citizens, who are sometimes but not always the same people, to come together and decide what they want for the future and how to achieve it.


[1] Cole, Terrence M. Jim Crow in Alaska: The Passage of the Alaska Equal Rights Act of 1945. The Western Historical Quarterly, Vol. 23, No. 4 (Nov., 1992), pp. 429-449

[2] Indian Law and Order Commission releases final report. November 13, 2013. https://www.narf.org/indian-law-and-order-commission-releases-final-report/

[3] Hogan v. Kaltag Tribal Council Decision. October 5th 2010 https://www.narf.org/hogan-v-kaltag-tribal-council-decision/  and  State of Alaska v. Native Village of Tanana https://www.narf.org/cases/state-alaska-v-native-village-tanana/

[4] 43 U.S.C. § 1603 (b)

[5] Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act PUBLIC LAW 96–487—DEC. 2, 1980 94 STAT. 2371 Title VIII Subsistence Management and Use.

[6] Hawaii State Constitution Article XII Traditional and Customary Rights Section 7  https://lrb.hawaii.gov/constitution#articlexii

[7] Congressional findings and declaration of policy 43 U.S.C. § 1601(b)

[8] General Allotment Act of 1887 Public law: Pub.L. 49–105 25 U.S.C. ch. 9 § 331 et seq Statutes at Large: 24 Stat. 388

[9] PL- 92-203. December 18th 1971. Section 7 (h)(3)

[10] https://firstalaskans.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/ANCSA-the-1991-Amendments_The-Basics4.pdf

[11] P.L. 100-241, 101 Stat. 1789, February 3, 1988. See also 43 U.S.C. § 1606

[12] Ahtna, ASRC, Doyon Limited, Sealaska, NANA and Calista

[13] 43 U.S.C. § 1602 (r)

[14] Email conversation with Aaron Schutt, 11/17/2021. Calista Storyknife May 2015, page 5. 2018 ASRC Annual Report, page 44

[15] United States Government Accountability Office Report to Congressional Requesters. REGIONAL ALASKA NATIVE CORPORATIONS Status 40 Years after Establishment, and Future Considerations. December 2021. Page 16

[16] Anderson, Robert. Alaska Native Rights, Statehood, and Unfinished Business. 43 Tulsa L. Rev. 17 (2007), page 36, https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/faculty-articles/387

[17] Congressional findings and declaration of policy 43 U.S.C. § 1601(b)

[18] Sniggeroff, Robert and Craig Richards. Alaska Native Corporation Endowment Models. Alaska Law Review Vol. 38:1 2021

[19] Id at page 2.

[20] Id at page 35

[21] Edwards, Bruce N. The 2017 Tax Act and Settlement Trusts. Alaska Law Review Vol. 35:1 2018

[22] Robinson, William. The Benefits of a Benefit Corporation Statute for Alaska Native Corporations. Alaska Law Review Vol. 33:2 2016 page 330

[23] Id page 350

[24] Regional Corporations 43 U.S.C. § 1606 (r)

[25] United States Government Accountability Office Report to Congressional Requesters. REGIONAL ALASKA NATIVE CORPORATIONS Status 40 Years after Establishment, and Future Considerations. December 2021. Page 38, citing Pub. L. No. 105-333, § 12 (1998), codified as amended at 43 U.S.C. § 1606(r).

ANCSA at 50 on the DANSRD Blog

On December 18, 2021 the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) turns 50. To mark the occasion, the Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development will publish a series of blog posts from faculty and graduates discussing ANCSA at 50: The Next 50 Years. Posts will be related to the history of the law, the changes it has wrought, personal experiences with ANCSA, or ideas for the next 50 years. We will also be posting pieces from our past newsletters, links to the Department’s ANCSA at 40 video series, and information on historical sources. Please join us in looking at the Act that changed Alaska.

Our first repost comes from the DANRD 25th Anniversary Newsletter and describes the relationship between the rural development program and ANCSA.

“The History of Rural Development”

Reprinted from the Department of Alaska Native and Rural Development 25th Anniversary Newsletter, Fall 2009 1

THE “ROOTS” OF THE CURRENT B.A. DEGREE in Rural Development go back to the mid-1970s when Mike Gaffney and other faculty along with students and community members involved in UAF’S rural field-based Cross Cultural Education (XCED) teacher training program saw the need for some type of an additional degree option beyond classroom teaching that related to the development training requirements brought about by the passage of ANCSA (Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act). With the 1971 passage of ANCSA Alaska Native self-determination was dependent upon the success of the resulting profit corporations (based on a western financial market environment) and not-for-profit organizations that depended upon federal and state government funds (and westernized reporting requirements). The need for trained Alaska Native personnel was not a part of the settlement provisions and few Alaskan Natives were prepared for this level of professional management. The resulting Human Resource Development degree option within the B.ED degree program was an initial step to address these needs.

In the late 70s as the ANCSA situation continued to unfold and self-determination efforts began to accelerate, it increasingly became evident that the Human Resource Development orientation of the B.ED degree needed to be significantly modified so that individuals would have the knowledge and skills needed to be able to multi-task between “running the business” while maintaining the community’s cultural identity and control over these processes. The B.A. degree in Rural Development was designed with this end in mind.

The structure and content of the initial RD degree was shaped by desire to train human resource generalists that could address a variety of administrative duties and responsibilities based on familiarity with the general context of socio-economic development (RD core) and then approach specific issues from an inter-disciplinary specialty concentration or area of expertise (applied emphasis). Through internships, course projects, grant writing exercises and a required senior project, the curriculum included real-life, applied experiences in order to prepare the graduates for the immediacy of the development environment in rural Alaska. Pat Dubbs, the first department head for the Rural Development program, was one of several key faculty that designed and nurtured the creation of the B.A. degree at UAF. Some of the others with early long term involvement were Ray Barnhardt, Rick Caulfield, Lary Schafer, Nick Flanders, and Taylor Brelsford.

From its official inception in 1984, Rural Development attempted to offer its degree to both on-campus and off-campus students. It had a network of rural based faculty members who, along with Fairbanks faculty members, offered degree courses via distance delivery methods throughout much of rural Alaska.

Today’s Rural Development degree has stayed true to this foundation. Its focus on recruiting, retaining and graduating Alaska Native and rural students continues in the mission of the RD program. The major’s core courses offer the generalist orientation, the required Concentration Area incorporates an interdisciplinary skill area of expertise and the graduates have the experiences of a required internship [the internship course is still available, but no longer required] and senior project. Student advising remains a cornerstone of each faculty’s role and the department now offers a whole new level of growth for students who have achieved their bachelor degree by offering the distance delivered M.A. in Rural Development.

1 https://uaf.edu/dansrd/overview/newsletters/2009_25thAnniversaryIssue_DANRDnewsletter.pdf

DANSRD Graduate Continues to Lead

Barbara ‘Wáahlaal Gíidaak Blake

DANSRD would like to congratulate former faculty member Barbara ‘Wáahlaal Gíidaak Blake on her successful bid for a seat on the Juneau Assembly. Barbara is a graduate of the RD MA (2013) and BA programs and taught for DANSRD 2013 through 2014. ‘Wáahlaal Gíidaak is of Haida, Tlingit and Ahtna Athabascan descent and belongs to the Káat nay-st/Yahkw ’Láanaas (Shark House/Middle Town People) Clan.  She is the daughter of Sandra Demmert (Yahkw Jáanaas) and Kenneth Johnson (Naltsiina), and the granddaughter of Frances Demmert Peele (Yahkw Jáanaas), Franklin Demmert, Sr. (Teeyeeneidi), Irene Johnson (Naltsiina)  Walter Johnson (Norwegian), and mother to two amazing kids.  She currently serves as the Director of the Alaska Native Policy Center with First Alaskans Institute, where she promotes the self-determination of Alaska Native peoples through strengthening opportunities for indigenous voices to be at the forefront of leading, solving, confronting, and advocating for Indigenous communities. She will be a strong voice for equity and justice for all on the Assembly.

We are very proud of her achievements and hope that other RD and ANS graduates will follow in her footsteps to provide strong leadership for Alaska.