Letter to Students – Professor Jenny Bell Jones

May 2016 DANSRD Graduation Celebration.

Greetings to you all! By the time you read this my journey on our beautiful planet will be over and I will have taken my last walk into the forest. I want you all to know what a huge honor it has been to be a part of your lives. You, and in many cases your families as well, have brought great joy to me through the years that we worked together, and especially during my last years when illness made me homebound. It is not the Native way to say goodbye, and this isn’t a goodbye, it is a “I’ll see you later” or “hágoónee’”.

No more grading papers late into the night for me, no more sending out just one more email trying to make sure that everybody got their assignments in on time. No more developing those quizzes and writing those lecture notes that I’m sure some of you groaned about when you found how much reading they would require. Those things I will not take with me. The things I will carry along are the wonderful memories I have from each time I saw one or another of you have another success. Sometimes those successes were small, sometimes they were large, it never mattered to me, just seeing them was what counted. Nobody was happier about your good grades than I was!

Sometimes I was aware that you were struggling with incredible challenges in your lives. Some of you came to me and talked to me in confidence about those challenges and that confidence has never been shared. Sometimes I sat up all night like a worried grandma trying to figure out how best I could help you. Sometimes there were things I could do, and other times all I could do was pray but I want you to know that I was always there doing it.

Know that you can succeed. Do your best work and then try to make it just a tiny little bit better. You don’t have to be perfect just do your best. Take what you have learned in our classes and programs and use it wisely. Be proud of your successes, and forgive yourselves when you do not do as well as you had hoped … you are often your own worst critics, chances are the rest of us think you did pretty well!

When I was diagnosed with ALS in 2010 I was told I had just a year or two. I had a choice. I could have resigned my position, filed for disability and let the illness take over. Or I could continue working for as long as I was able. I chose the second option because of all of you. And those of you who I have worked with through these last 12 years they had told me I would not have, have given me a gift that I cannot repay. You gave me a purpose and reason to keep fighting. A reason to keep loving life for as long as I possibly could.

So, now it is time for you to pick up that fight. Sing for me, dance for me, eat some Native food for me, spend some time out on the land with me, but please do not be too sad for me. I have been blessed with many good years and especially the ones I have spent with you. I am at peace now, please be at peace with me. Remember when we walk on, we do not walk away. If you want to talk to me, go sit outside somewhere and be very quiet and listen … I’ll be there.

Enjoying the sunshine. July 2020 at the UAF Georgeson Botanical Garden.

“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.   

“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.

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. 


            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.


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.


“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.



§ 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.


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/.

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.

RD BA graduate Nicholes on how DANSRD prepared him for international graduate school success

At the end of Spring 2022, I will submit my graduate thesis on social movements and cultural trauma as part of the Human Security Master’s Program at Aarhus University in Denmark. Five years ago, I could not have imagined myself nearing the completion of a graduate degree or even the type of person applying to doctoral programs. Academia, in general, was outside anything I could really have imagined. All of this taken into consideration — I can only give gratitude for what feels like an endless number of people willing to put in the effort supporting me throughout my academic career. A significant amount of that effort rests with the excellent faculty and staff at the Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development.

Nicholes (back row, second from the right) with DANSRD faculty, staff, and fellow graduates, May 2019.

I first began my studies in the Rural Development Bachelor of Arts program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 2017, leaving my home in Seattle and heading north to Alaska. I was nervous and excited about my transition to Alaska as anyone will be when taking the leap to somewhere new. I should not have worried in the least however, as the support I received from my professors and staff was fantastic from day one. All my needs as I settled into my new home were met without issue and the university environment was undoubtedly one of the most welcoming I had ever experienced. Once my studies began, I found that the topics covered were comprehensive in scope and intensive in their depth. The Rural Development program covered topics ranging from law, public policy, project development, environmental crises, history, ethics, business planning, and human development theory.

Following my UAF graduation, I applied and was accepted into Aarhus University in 2020. One more move taking me further and farther than I had been on my own. Surprisingly, I found little to no issues adapting to postgraduate education. My Rural Development degree had prepared me. Frankly, I should have realized that fact from the first class I ever took at UAF, Rural Alaska Land Issues. I still remember the first day and walking into Professor Kathleen Meckel’s class — Not only one of the most welcoming professors I ever had the opportunity to meet, but also an excellent guide into what would be an entire semester covering Alaskan land laws and policy. There was never a separation between what I studied and how it impacted Alaska, which helped me develop a skill set used throughout my master’s program today — particularly in research.

Moesgaard Campus (MOCA) where the Anthropology, Human Security, Archaeology and Sustainable Heritage Management Programs are held at Aarhus University.

On the practical side, I also learned various skills essential to anyone’s academic career. I learned how to produce written work and deliverables at the postgraduate level. More than that, I was given a practical education on project design, presentation, grant writing, and research development that I had never learned outside of university. When diving into our final semester, I received in-depth support on developing a thesis and research methods while covering criticism and theoretical developments in research methodology.  At the end of the program, I felt more than capable of discussing theory with my professors, covering figures like Amartya Sen and Paulo Freire, depopulation theory, and many others. I also found myself throughout the program learning through discussions with my classmates and peers as the diverse cohort I studied with all had experiences reached outside the classroom. Even though my studies in the master’s program have shifted their focus outside of the Alaskan context, I still find my research revolving around many of the same topics I studied in the Rural Development program. Issues of inequality, ecological crises, food scarcity, public policy, and law are not only limited to Alaska. Additionally, the focus in Alaska didn’t restrict me in the least; Instead, it allowed me to delve deeper into the topics at hand around real issues felt in the region. Ultimately, as a master’s student, research and my thesis are the final goals; I would have been on a less sure path if not for the Rural Development program and everyone involved.

Rooftop view of Aarhus, Denmark.

Senator John Sackett: Leader and Mentor by Emeritus Professor Jenny Bell Jones

DANSRD staff, students and faculty, were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Senator John Sackett. We extend our condolences to his family and Tribe.

Senator Sackett was born June 3, 1944 at spring camp, up the Huslia River, a tributary of the Koyukuk River. When he was six, he attended St. Mark’s mission in Nenana for a year after which a school was built and the Territory sent a teacher to Huslia. Later he went to Sheldon Jackson High School in Sitka and graduated in 1963. He studied at Ohio University for a year before returning to Alaska to attend UAF.

At 21, in 1966, he was the youngest person ever to be elected to the Alaska Legislature and he won his seat by two votes. He was involved with the early development of Fairbanks Native Association in 1965 through 1967. He also served as President of Tanana Chiefs Conference from 1966 to 1968 and as President of Doyon Limited from 1972 to 1976. He received an honorary doctorate of laws from UAF in 2013.

Senator Sackett filled many important leadership positions over his years of service to Alaska including two terms in the State House serving on the House Finance Committee and fourteen years in the Senate.

After two terms in the House, he took a break from politics and completed a degree in Business Administration (Accounting with a minor in Political Science) from UAF in 1972, after which he returned to the Alaska Senate where he served on the Senate Finance Committee. Senator Sackett was a strong voice for Alaska Native land claims and made sure that the State of Alaska paid its share into the Alaska Native Fund as required by ANCSA. He used his power as chairman and co-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee to make sure that rural priorities were properly financed and services were provided.

In later years he was incredibly generous with his knowledge in participating in the DANSRD leadership seminars. He showed many of us an incredible example of how to successfully combine traditional and modern lifeways. That knowledge was foundational for many DANSRD graduates who benefited from his kindness in sharing what he knew, and he will be missed by us. We encourage you to take a little time to learn more about Senator Sackett by listening to his 1991 interviews with the late Dr. Bernice Joseph on the Fairbank Native Association Project Jukebox at https://jukebox.uaf.edu/fna/htm/sackettpg.htm

You can also read his own story, written in 2010 online at https://uaf.edu/dansrd/files/Sackett_NOVEMBER2010.pdf This story is an education in itself!

John Sackett with DANSRD faculty and students at the 2010 leadership seminar. Senator Sackett is in the center with the red pullover.