The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act
, commonly abbreviated ANCSA
, was signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon
on December 18
, the largest land claims settlement in United States history. ANCSA was intended to resolve the long-standing issues surrounding aboriginal land claims in Alaska, as well as to stimulate economic development throughout Alaska
. The settlement extinguished Alaska Native
claims to the land by transferring titles to twelve Alaska Native regional corporations
and over 200 local village corporations. A thirteenth regional corporation was later created for Alaska Natives who no longer resided in Alaska
In 1968, the Atlantic-Richfield Company
discovered oil at Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic coast, catapulting the issue of land ownership
into headlines. In order to lessen the difficulty of drilling at such a remote location and transporting the oil to the lower 48 states, the best solution seemed to be building a pipeline to carry the oil across Alaska to the port of Valdez, built on the ruins of the previous town. At Valdez, the oil would be loaded onto tanker ships and sent by water to the contiguous states. The plan was approved, but a permit to construct the pipeline, which would cross lands involved in the native dispute, could not be granted until the Native claims had been settled.
With major petroleum dollars on the line, there was a new urgency for an agreement, and, in 1971, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act was signed into law by the U.S. President, under which the Natives relinquished aboriginal claims to their lands. In return, they received access to 44 million acres (180,000 km²) of land and were paid $963 million. The land and money were divided among regional, urban, and village corporations. Some handled their funds wisely and others did not, leaving some Natives land rich and cash poor. The settlement compensated the Natives for the invasion of their lands and opened the way for all Alaskans to profit from oil, one of the state's largest natural resources.
Selected provisions of ANCSA
- Native claims to almost all of Alaska were extinguished in exchange for approximately one-ninth of the state's land plus $962.5 million in compensation distributed to 200 local village and 12 Native-owned regional corporations, plus a thirteenth corporation comprising Alaska Natives who had left the state.
- Of the compensation monies, $462.5 million was to come from the federal treasury and the rest from oil revenue-sharing.
- Settlement benefits would accrue to those with at least one-fourth Native ancestry.
- Of the approximately 80,000 Natives enrolled under ANCSA, those living in villages (approximately 2/3rds of the total) would receive 100 shares in both a village and a regional corporation.
- The remaining 1/3rd would be "at large" shareholders with 100 shares in a regional corporation plus additional rights to revenue from regional mineral and timber resources.
- The Alaska Native Allotment Act was revoked and as yet unborn Native children were excluded.
- The twelve regional corporations within the state would administer the settlement.
- A thirteenth corporation composed of Natives who had left the state would receive compensation but not land.
- Surface rights to 44 million acres (178,000 km²) were patented to the Native village and regional corporations
- The surface rights to the patented land were granted to the village corporations and the subsurface right to the land were granted to the regional corporation, creating a "split estate"
Alaska Native regional corporations
- Main article at: Alaska Native Regional Corporations
The following thirteen regional corporations were created under ANCSA:
Also, most of these corporations set up nonprofit corporations of their own.
Alaska Native village corporations
Many separate village corporations were also created by the Act. Below is a short list of some of the village corporations created under ANCSA:
- Ukpeagvik Iñupiat Corporation the village corporation for Barrow
- Bethel Native Corporation, the village corporation for Bethel, Alaska
- Cape Fox Corporation, the village corporation for Ketchikan, Alaska
- Deloycheet, Inc. The village corporation for Holy Cross, Alaska
- Huna Totem Corporation, the village corporation for Huna, Alaska
- Haida Corporation the village corporation for Hydaburg, Alaska
- Goldbelt, Inc. Juneau, Alaska's urban native corporation
- Paug-Vik, Inc. Ltd. The village corporation for Naknek
- Chenega Corporation The village corporation for Prince William Sound
Land selection by the State of Alaska under the Statehood Act and for the regional and village corporations has continued through the present.