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Holding Our Ground Part 1


Holding Our Ground

"Programs are presented as broadcast in 1985 and 1986. Some of the issues may have changed. A new series is looking at how these issues have changed over time. For more program information please contact the producer: Jim Sykes, PO Box 696, Palmer, AK 99645. The address given at the end of the program is no longer correct."

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TapeAlaska Transcripts, PO Box 696, Palmer, AK 99645
HOLDING OUR GROUND
(c) 1985 Western Media Concepts, Inc.
"THE PEOPLE, THE LAND, AND THE LAW"
(Part 1 of 16)

[Perry Eaton of Kodiak] I think that the passage of the land claims settlement act was a hallmark in American History. The uniqueness of the act perhaps is its own worst problem. And that, being the imposition of the corporate structure on a culturally different people.

NARRATOR: PERRY EATON DESCRIBES THE MAIN PROBLEM WITH ANCSA, THE 1971 ALASKA NATIVE CLAIMS SETTLEMENT ACT. ALASKA NATIVES ARE NOW LOOKING FOR WAYS TO CHANGE ANCSA, BECAUSE THE VERY LANDS AND WAYS OF LIVING THEY HAD HOPED TO RETAIN, ARE NOW AT RISK BECAUSE OF THE CLAIMS ACT. RECORDED ON LOCATION, NATIVE PEOPLES FROM ALL PARTS OF ALASKA TELL THEIR OWN STORIES ABOUT THE TRADITIONS AND TURMOIL AFFECTING THE PEOPLE, THE LAND, AND THE LAW--THE VERY ELEMENTS NEEDED FOR 'HOLDING OUR GROUND.'

FUNDING FOR "HOLDING OUR GROUND" IS PROVIDED BY THE ALASKA HUMANITIES FORUM, THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES, RURAL ALASKA COMMUNITY ACTION PROGRAM, THE NORTH SLOPE BOROUGH, AND ZIONTZ-PIRTLE LAW FIRM.

[William Barr of Shishmaref] When the Claims Act was being drafted, no one came to our village and asked for our input in drafting the act. Every now and then, those of us that listen to news on radio would hear of a land claims act being debated down at Washington D.C. at the Congressional level. I assume it would be a different act if people from the villages had their input in the draft.

THOSE WORDS WERE SPOKEN IN SHISHMAREF, A NORTHWEST ALASKA VILLAGE LOCATED ON A REMOTE AND WINDY BARRIER ISLAND LESS THAN 100 MILES FROM THE SOVIET UNION. CANADIAN JUDGE THOMAS BERGER LISTENED. AN INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF ESKIMOS CALLED THE INUIT CIRCUMPOLAR CONFERENCE HIRED BERGER TO ASK ALASKA NATIVES WHAT THEY THOUGHT ABOUT ANCSA, THE ALASKA NATIVE CLAIMS SETTLEMENT ACT, AND FIND OUT HOW THEY WANT TO CHANGE IT. THE INQUIRY WAS KNOWN AS THE ALASKA NATIVE REVIEW COMMISSION. LARGE NUMBERS OF NATIVE PEOPLES HAD THEIR FIRST OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK OUT ABOUT ANCSA. THEY SPOKE TO BERGER AND TO EACH OTHER, AS BERGER MADE A HISTORIC JOURNEY TO VILLAGES IN ALL PARTS OF ALASKA DURING 1984 AND 85.

WHEN CONGRESS PASSED THE CLAIMS ACT IN 1971, IT WAS PRAISED BY MANY AS A GENEROUS SETTLEMENT. ALASKA NATIVES EXPECTED LAND AND MONEY.

 

AGNES NICHOLS OF CORDOVA...
They promised them lots of money, they were going to be rich. They were going to be able to take it easy, and everybody was going to go to this utopia that was like a pie in the sky. But it didn't happen.

GLADYS ERHART...
All that was told--you we were gonna get money and land, I didn't know they were going to have corporations and all that. Just don't get anything out of it.

THE LANDS AND MONEY WERE NOT HANDED OVER TO INDIVIDUALS, AND NOT TO NATIVE GOVERNMENTS. THE LANDS AND MONEY WERE TURNED OVER TO PROFIT-MAKING CORPORATIONS--A DOZEN REGIONAL CORPORATIONS AND OVER 200 VILLAGE CORPORATIONS. ALL THOSE CORPORATIONS SHARED 962 AND A HALF MILLION DOLLARS AND ABOUT ONE-TENTH OF THE LAND IN ALASKA --IN RETURN FOR DROPPING CLAIMS TO ABOUT 90 PER CENT OF THE STATE. WITH ANCSA, THE LANDS BECAME A CORPORATE ASSET--PRIVATELY OWNED REAL ESTATE. IT CREATED NEW PRESSURES ON A TIMELESS BOND BETWEEN PEOPLE AND THE LAND.

PAUL APANGALOOK OF GAMBELL...
The stock was wedged between the land and its people, and also a profit structure was imposed, and all of what we had in the act was under a time frame.

THE ANCSA CORPORATIONS ISSUED STOCK TO ALASKA NATIVES BORN BEFORE THE CLAIMS ACT WAS PASSED. THE SHAREHOLDER CORPORATIONS WERE GIVEN 20 YEARS TO SUCCEED. IN 1991 STOCKS CAN BE SOLD, LAND CAN BE TAXED, OR TAKEN BY CREDITORS. IN SHORT, THE VERY LANDS ALASKA NATIVES HAD HOPED TO KEEP FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS CAN BE LOST FOREVER.

WALTER JOHNSON OF ANCHORAGE...
The corporate structure has been set up for a person to put whatever amount of wealth that he wishes to put into that corporation, but no, not the Alaska Native. The Alaska Native put everything, the land, the money, and according to ANCSA, they put their birthright and everything else into that corporate structure, that we hate so much.

RONALD BROWER OF BARROW...
We had some great hopes in that we would be living a better life as a result of ANCSA and that we would be reaping some of the benefits. That has not been the case...The intentions are good, but it's just not working the way it was intended.

EVEN THOUGH ANCSA IS WIDELY DISLIKED, AND REPLETE WITH PROBLEMS, THE MYTH PERSISTS AMONG NON-NATIVES THAT ALASKA NATIVES ARE RICH BECAUSE OF ANCSA.

JACK OKTOLLIK ...
Ever since I went out of state in Oregon, every white man I see they say "Hey, you're a rich man" I said "No I am not rich, just because I come from Alaska and I'm from the North Slope Borough doesn't mean I'm rich. I had to make a living like everybody else".

You have a lot of the White community (LENA DEWEY OF NENANA) against anything that's Native because of the Native land claims, because they thought we got so much.

MARTIN MOORE FROM THE VILLAGE OF EMMONAK NEAR THE MOUTH OF THE YUKON RIVER
The claims settlement act, to this date, has never put any food on the table yet.

IRONICALLY, MOST NATIVES HAVE GOTTEN MUCH MORE FROM STATE DISTRIBUTIONS OF CASH, WHICH ARE EQUAL AMOUNTS TO ALL ALASKANS, THAN THEY HAVE RECEIVED FROM THE CLAIMS ACT. MOST OF THE CORPORATIONS HAVE NOT BEEN FINANCIALLY SUCCESSFUL. FEW HAVE PAID DIVIDENDS MORE THAN ONCE OR TWICE. ONE VILLAGE CORPORATION HAS EVEN FILED FOR BANKRUPTCY. UNLESS THE LAW IS CHANGED, ANCSA CORPORATIONS CANNOT GUARANTEE CONTINUED OWNERSHIP OF THEIR LANDS, BUT THERE HAVE BEEN SOME BENEFITS.

PAUL APANGALOOK...
I view ANCSA as an opportunity that was denied our people in the history of our great country...its for the first time we have a chance to initiate instead of react...to have a direct role in our own destiny.

THE TANADGUSIX CORPORATION ON REMOTE ST.PAUL ISLAND HAS TAKEN UP MANY INITIATIVES THAT DO NOT MAKE A PROFIT, BUT WHICH BENEFIT THAT BERING SEA COMMUNITY.

LARRY MERCULIEFF IS PRESIDENT OF TANADGUSIX.
The corporations are necessary and they can succeed while serving many cultural, social, and economic needs of the community.

BUT MERCULIEFF ADMITS THAT HIS CORPORATION IS EXCEPTIONAL.
In most cases, most ANCSA corporations have had no major positive effect on their shareholders. This is not surprising considering the host of obstacles in their paths: little seed capital, lack of local business opportunities, lack of human resources trained and/or experienced in the business arena, the leadership spread too thin by the numerous demands placed on them from inside the village and out, and unrealistic shareholder expectations. We have faced these same problems.

It does not bode well for continued protection of corporate assets, especially the land, which is the basis of cultural survival in village Alaska. Nor do I believe that village corporations should or can protect culturally valuable lands or serve as a protectorate of the culture. It's the wrong vehicle, even if village corporations are financially successful, and it is an extremely dangerous situation when they are not.

IF THE CORPORATION IS THE WRONG VEHICLE TO HOLD THE LAND, THEN WHAT IS THE RIGHT ONE? TO FIND OUT, PEOPLE ARE THINKING ABOUT THE LAND, AND WHAT IT MEANS TO THEM.

LOUIE COMMACK OF AMBLER...
Our land is like our parent. It provides us food, clothing, and shelter. Without our land, we would be homeless, we would be like orphans.

ANTOINETTE HELMER FROM CRAIG.
Our culture comes from that land. That is how we define ourselves as people, that's where we derive our identity.

THE LAND, RIVERS, AND SEAS PROVIDE THE BASICS OF LIFE IN THE ALASKAN BUSH. IN THE PAST, ALASKA NATIVES HAD NEVER WORRIED ABOUT OWNING LAND. NO ONE NEEDED TO OWN IT AS LONG AS THEY COULD FREELY MAKE A LIVING FROM THE LAND.

The white man works, he makes his earning, he feeds his family. (MICHAEL ACOVAK OF NEW STUYAHOK) The Native people for a long time have survived from the land, it's just like having a job that's what they know, and they can teach it to their kids.

JASPER JOSEPH OF EMMONAK
...In Eskimo we have life. Getting food was a daaaai-ly effort. It had to be done every day, no matter what the weather was like.

FEW PEOPLE TODAY DEPEND EXCLUSIVELY ON THE LAND FOR THEIR SURVIVAL. THERE ARE STORES IN MOST VILLAGES, BUT MONEY IS SCARCE, AND FOOD STAMPS DON'T GO FAR ON GOODS THAT COST DOUBLE OR TRIPLE OF ANCHORAGE PRICES. MANY WHO DO LIVE IN A TRADITIONAL MANNER TODAY FIND IT DIFFICULT.

MARTHA JACK LIVES ON ADMIRALTY ISLAND IN THE SOUTHEAST ALASKA VILLAGE OF ANGOON.
My feelings toward ANCSA are that it has changed our Native lifestyle and has put so many restrictions on it that it's gotten to where an Alaska Native does not know any more where to go and what to do, when before it came about we had a natural lifestyle. When I was growing up, there were no restrictions as to the use of our daily diet in land use. I treasure those days as I was growing up because they were my true Native lifestyle...Hunting and fishing grounds started being restricted and it was like the Natives were tacked onto a wall of rules and regulations. The Natives have been so undermined right here in our own land that it could make anyone just want to give up and go to rot.

...since the claims settlement act, nothing very important happened to my life or the people around me. They still hunt, they still fish, they still chop wood. You could ask these people sitting here. They're still living the same way they lived centuries and thousands of years ago. They don't have jobs. They don't have checks from the regional corporations. They're still the same.

EVEN THOUGH MARTIN MOORE DOES NOT SEE EXTENSIVE CHANGES IN PEOPLES' LIFESTYLES NOW, HE PERCEIVES BIG CHANGES IN THE WIND.

It's going to have a lot of impact on the people at the future time...There's a lot of questions about way of life, subsistence way of life, traditional life and what the people actually own and what they could do after the land is divided into certain owners, the federal government, state government and private.

LAND IS ALREADY DIVIDED. THOSE WHO CONTROL ADJACENT AREAS HAVE GREATLY DIFFERING IDEAS OF LAND USE. THE TRADITIONAL VIEWS OF LAND AND OF THE FUTURE HAVE MET NEW REALITIES. THE DIFFERENCES ARE DIFFICULT TO RECONCILE, PEOPLE ARE WORRIED.

[Read by Reggie Joule] This is a statement from Pete Schaeffer. What will or can be done to retain the land that is the soul of its people. What guarantee do we have that we will keep the land that we live on. None. Tomorrow they can find a needed mineral on our land and for whatever reason, be it national defense or eminent domain, we will find out that we retain ownership of a different sort very quickly. It is with great disappointment and with greater fear for my children that it is they who will have to live on what the government dictates. But my greatest fear is the dissolving of the Inuit into nothing.

BILL MILLER FROM DOT LAKE PUTS IT MORE BLUNTLY.
I cannot understand the idea that Western culture always has to be right and all other cultures wrong. And this feeling seems to be so strong everywhere the Western culture goes. It's very evident in ANCSA. The Native culture survived through thousands of years through sharing and through their own way, and Western culture has tried to teach them things such as greed and selfishness.

MILLIE BUCK OF GULKANA HAS COME TO A CONCLUSION ABOUT ANCSA THAT IS WIDESPREAD ALL OVER ALASKA...
We don't have a settlement. Not if we're going to always be worried about losing our land tomorrow.

SO THE STRUGGLE TO KEEP THE LAND CONTINUES, 14 YEARS AFTER ANCSA.

ART DOUGLAS OF AMBLER...
In order to keep holding onto your customs and cultures, you've got to have land. If you're out of land, you're nothing. We got to belong to the land and take care of our land.

THE THREATS THAT CORPORATIONS COULD LOSE THEIR LANDS TO TAXES, OR FORECLOSURES ARE JUST AS REAL AS THE POSSIBILITY THAT PEOPLE MAY SELL THEIR SHARES ON THE OPEN MARKET WHEN THE RESTRICIONS ARE REMOVED.

NANCY ANDERSON OF KODIAK.
1991 is right around the corner and what's going to happen to our stock when it becomes saleable? I heard two sides to the story. One group says, "I'm going to sell all my stock because it isn't worth anything anyway." And then I hear others saying, "I'll never sell my stock because if I do, I'm selling my land...And we may be offered large amounts of money." If the majority of it sells to non-Natives, we will lose control of our corporation and probably our land...What will happen to our subsistence rights? Will our land be used to generate dollars to make a profit? And what kind of impact will it have on us Natives?

IF THE MAIN OBJECT OF THE CLAIMS ACT WAS TO PRESERVE LANDS FOR NATIVE PEOPLES, MANY PEOPLE HAVE ASKED WHY CORPORATIONS WERE CHOSEN AS THE BASIS FOR ANCSA. SOME SAY IT WAS A CHANCE FOR NATIVES TO BECOME A PART OF THE AMERICAN ECONOMIC DREAM. OTHERS SAY IT WAS INTENDED TO ASSIMILATE ALASKA NATIVES INTO THE AMERICAN MELTING POT.

DOUG JONES WAS THE CONGRESSIONAL AIDE DURING THE YEARS THE CLAIMS ACT WAS DEVELOPED.
What we were trying to do there was consciously avoid a womb approach of endless trusts... a movement toward business as usual, in my view, is one of the goals of what we were trying to do. Those mechanisms that we chose of how the land was allotted and the money provided were really rooted themselves in what I think we were trying to accomplish in a social engineering way. We probably misjudged the fierceness with which the Native community cared about the land portion of the settlement.

THE ATTORNEY GENERAL WAS RAMSEY CLARK...
You have to see that we were, not so much me but the other lawyers working on it, were business corporate lawyers. That was their history, that was their knowledge, that was their joy. And their familiarity with Native ways and needs was somewhat limited.

THE PROS AND CONS OF CORPORATIONS WERE THOROUGHLY DEBATED AMONG A FEW CLAIMS LEADERS BEFORE THE SETTLEMENT. THE IDEA OF RESERVATIONS WAS VERY UNPOPULAR AMONG ALASKA NATIVES AND AMONG MOST MEMBERS OF CONGRESS. NATIVE LAND CLAIMS WERE SETTLED IN A PRESSURE-COOKER. OIL COMPANIES WANTED TO BUILD THE TRANS-ALASKA OIL PIPELINE TO TIDEWATER ACROSS NATIVE LANDS. AND THE RELATIVELY NEW STATE OF ALASKA WANTED TO SELECT STATEHOOD LANDS. WHEN ANCSA PLACED NATIVE LANDS IN CORPORATIONS, ABORIGINAL RIGHTS WERE ALSO ABOLISHED IN THE LAW.

HENRY AHGUPUK OF SHISHMAREF.
What? Were my rights as an aboriginal extinguished? Who had the right to sign off my aboriginal rights? That was one of my big disappointments and which I did not agree with the land claims act.

MANY PEOPLE IN THE VILLAGES SAY THEY WERE TOTALLY LEFT OUT OF THE LAND CLAIMS PROCESS. THEY REGARD ANCSA AS A SETTLEMENT WITHOUT CONSENT.

JENS FLYNN OF TUNUNAK...[In Yup'ik]...TRANSLATION BY MIKE ALBERT.
The early days Alaska was occupied by Native people only, and no Kass'aqs [white men]. They used it freely and used the own rules only. Right now I'm asking Congress, "Why have Congress worked on our land to settle it in the ways we do not agree without talking with us first?" Right now I am talking to as if talking face to face with the people in Congress. "Before you intended to work on the land settlement and if Native people in Alaska were consulted, I don't think anybody would have agreed to settle it."

CHANGE IS INEVITABLE, AND ALASKA'S NATIVES FEEL THEY HAVE A RIGHT TO MAXIMUM CONTROL OVER THEIR OWN DESTINIES. THEY ARE NOW SPEAKING OUT. EVEN THOUGH THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT RECOGNIZES TRADITIONAL OR TRIBAL GOVERNMENTS IN MANY OF ALASKA'S VILLAGES...

...There was nothing in the act that spoke to Native governments. (SPUD WILLIAMS OF FAIRBANKS) You're talking of governments that are 6,000 years old, or even older. And when you consider an American government that's only just a few hundred years old as compared to governments that are 6,000 years old, it's a little incredulous today that the state or anyone would be challenging those governments as being legal governments or legal entities.


No one sees the communities as Native organized communities with leaders. (ROGER SILOOK OF GAMBELL) No one interprets the organized Native nation. Our people have the democratic government with one perpetual goal: self-determination, freedom, and peace.

I think Congress and a whole lot of people that were in positions to make a decision forgot all about our valid existing rights as a people. (OSCAR KAWAGLEY OF BETHEL) They were looking out for the valid existing rights of the miners, the homesteaders, and everybody else, trappers and whoever had access to land, those that have grown up where organization is very important and ownership of the land is important, which to us was not the way that we operated.

ALASKA NATIVES WANT RECOGNITION FOR THEIR TRIBAL COUNCILS IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN GREATER LOCAL AUTONOMY.

JACK LOMACK OF AKIACHAK.
We want to have a government to government relationship with the state and the federal government that we are sovereign people. We need to have a good relationship with the Federal and State, but they need to respect our culture.

MORE THAN ONE-THIRD OF ALASKA'S VILLAGES ARE OFFICIALLY RECOGNIZED BY THE U.S. GOVERNMENT, AND THE NUMBER OF VILLAGES CALLING FOR RECOGNITION OF NATIVE SOVEREIGNTY, IS GROWING. THE GOAL OF THE SOVEREIGNITY MOVEMENT IS SELF-DETERMINATION. NATIVE PEOPLE FEEL IT IS ESSENTIAL TO EXERT CONTROL OVER THEIR OWN LANDS IN ORDER TO CONTROL THEIR DESTINIES. ONE CHANGE MOST VILLAGES WANT IS PART OF A LIST MADE BY THE PEOPLE OF AKIACHUK.

WILLIE KASAYULIE.
Number fourteen : That all corporation selected land, Native allotments, traditional and customary lands for subsistence be deemed as "Indian Country" through Congressional legislation.

IF CORPORATION LANDS CAN BE TRANSFERRED TO THE CONTROL OF TRIBAL GOVERNMENTS, THEY CANNOT BE TAXED, LOST TO BAD DEBTS, OR TAKEN OVER BY ANOTHER ORGANIZATION. ADA DEER BELONGS TO THE MENOMINEE TRIBE WHICH WAS TERMINATED BY CONGRESS IN 1954. SHE HELPED CONVINCE CONGRESS TO RESTORE RECOGNITION AND LANDS TO THE TRIBE IN 1973. AUTHORITY OVER THE LANDS WENT TO THE MENOMINEE TRIBAL GOVERNMENT.

I want to emphasize the moral and the ethical considerations here. I think too often they get forgotten as we discuss the policies and the procedures and the legalities of all of this. We all need to ask ourselves what's right and what's wrong and what's best for the Native peoples.

TIM COULTER RUNS THE INDIAN LAW RESOURCE CENTER IN WASHINGTON D.C...HE BELIEVES THAT GRASSROOTS CONCERNS ARE THE KEY TO CONSTRUCTIVE POLITICAL CHANGE....

I think the Alaska Native people can change the law. You will define the law is, you will eventually define what your rights are, and you will define what the law is, and not the other way around.

ANCSA WAS INDEED A LANDMARK SETTLEMENT WHICH SPURRED OTHER PEOPLES TO SETTLE CLAIMS. THE PROFIT CORPORATION FORM OF HOLDING LAND WAS NOT COPIED. SOME OF THE MOST RECENT LAND CLAIMS SETTLEMENTS HAVE EXTENDED BROAD POLITICAL CONTROL OVER LARGE LAND AREAS, WITH SUBSISTENCE PRIORITIES THAT ARE GUARANTEED. ALASKA NATIVES ARE LOOKING AT SETTLEMENTS THAT HAVE HAPPENED SINCE ANCSA TO FIND WAYS TO CHANGE THE CLAIMS ACT.

AFTER LISTENING TO ALASKA'S NATIVE PEOPLE SPEAK OUT, JUDGE BERGER HAS RELEASED HIS REPORT TITLED "VILLAGE JOURNEY". HIS RECOMMENDATIONS WILL BE WIDELY DISCUSSED AS NATIVE GROUPS PURSUE THEIR STRATEGIES FOR CHANGE.

IN COMING WEEKS "HOLDING OUR GROUND" WILL MAKE IN-DEPTH EXPLORATIONS INTO THE MAJOR ISSUES OF LAND, SUBSISTENCE, AND SOVEREIGNITY. OTHER PROGRAMS WILL EXAMINE THE ROLE OF THE CORPORATIONS, THE NEW LEADERS, AND WHAT IT TAKES TO SAVE THE LAND UNDER A VARIETY OF OPTIONS. WE WILL HEAR FROM THE 'NEWBORNS' WHO WERE BORN AFTER ANCSA. THEY DO NOT GET SHARES, EXCEPT THROUGH INHERITANCE. OTHER LAND CLAIMS SETTLEMENTS WILL BE EXPLORED, AS WELL AS THE ADVANTAGES AND DRAWBACKS OF VARIOUS RECOMMENDATIONS TO CHANGE ANCSA. NATIVE PEOPLES ARE LOOKING FOR INFORMATION, FOR THE RIGHT THINGS THAT WILL LEAD TO THE BEST PATH FOR THE FUTURE.

" HOLDING OUR GROUND" WILL CONCLUDE WITH A LOOK AT THE DREAMS AND REALITIES FACING ABORIGINAL PEOPLES IN ALASKA, AND OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD. PLEASE JOIN US DURING THE COMING WEEKS. FOR "HOLDING OUR GROUND", THIS IS ADELINE RABOFF.

THIS PROGRAM IS PRODUCED BY JIM SYKES, WRITTEN BY JEFF BERLINER, EDITED AND RESEARCHED BY SUE BURRUS. MARY KANCEWICK IS OUR SCRIPT CONSULTANT. SPECIAL THANKS TO THE COMMUNITY OF GAMBELL FOR DANCING AND SINGING, AND ALSO SPECIAL THANKS TO THE INUIT CIRCUMPOLAR CONFERENCE. "HOLDING OUR GROUND" IS A PRODUCTION OF WESTERN MEDIA CONCEPTS WHICH IS SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONTENT.

FUNDING FOR "HOLDING OUR GROUND" IS PROVIDED BY THE ALASKA HUMANITIES FORUM, THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES, RURAL ALASKA COMMUNITY ACTION PROGRAM, THE NORTH SLOPE BOROUGH, AND ZIONTZ-PIRTLE LAW FIRM.

[Western Media Concepts no longer exists. Please Contact TapeAlaska, PO Box 696, Palmer, AK 99645 for information about Holding Our Ground.]

 

PROGRAM SUMMARIES:

1. The People, the Land, and the Law
Comprehensive 30-minute survey of the burning issues facing Alaska's Native community in the second half of this decade. This tour over the vast landscape of Alaska Native affairs serves as an overview of the topics to be treated in depth during the other 14 segments.

2. The Land and Sea
The ages-old Native feeling about the land comes across the airwaves like a fresh breeze. Two starkly different realities are presented—the Native concept of oneness with the land and the Western notion of land ownership and development. How do these contrasting philosophies fit the Native in rural Alaska?

3. Subsistence—A Way of Life
Far from the political and legal controversies surrounding subsistence, Natives carry on their traditional subsistence lifestyles. Hear their very personal descriptions of subsistence, what it is, and what it means to them. An important aspect of this documentary will be to delve into the mix of subsistence and cash economies.

4. Sovereignty—What it Means to People
Self-determination is the heart of a rising grassroots political movement. The listener will learn that this quest by Native people to control their own futures reaches far into the past. And the listener will discover that American political theory is not as much at odds with the sovereignty movement as one might think.

5. Traditional Councils and Corporate Boardrooms
Who calls the shots in the Native community: A look at power, history, and decision making. The audience will consider change from the perspectives of traditional village rule to government and corporate bureaucracies.

6. The Land and the Corporations
Traditional Native lands became corporate assets because the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act created profit-making Native corporations to hold the land. This segment will look at one of the toughest questions facing the Native community today: "Do these Native corporations have an obligation to develop their lands to earn a profit for their shareholders, or do they have an obligation to preserve those lands for subsistence and for generations to come?"

7. Risking and Saving the Land
Land owned by Native corporations can be lost through sales, corporate takeover, bankruptcy, or taxation. This has generated so much concern among Natives trying to save their land that there are now a number of options to prevent loss of these lands. This program is an exploration of the major risks and what alternatives are available.

8 Subsistence and the Law
Carrying on the subsistence lifestyle without interference from the law is a thing of the past. Traditional ways of hunting fishing, and gathering are now subject to political and legal changes and challenges in what may well be Alaska's most bitter controversy. Hear discussion of the new role of Alaska Natives as treaty-makers and game managers.

9. Sovereignty - How it Works in Real Life
Local government control is a reality in some areas of Native Alaska. In other areas Natives are working to implement their own unique forms of self- government. Some have found self-determination in traditional government. Take a close look at the communities where sovereignty is becoming a reality.

10. The Newborns—Left Out of ANCSA
When the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. passed on December 18, 1971, all those yet to be born were left out. Now thousands of teenagers and toddlers alike are on the outside of ANCSA looking in. The Native community is divided into ANCSA shareholders and newborns, and the problems could get worse. Natives young and old speak out in eloquent terms.

11. From Hunter, Fisher, Gatherer to Corporate Director
The corporation idea—how and why it was chosen as a vehicle for land claims. Was this a good way to give Alaska Natives a piece of the American dream, or was it a way of assimilating them? This program examines how Natives have made the transition from traditional life to corporate director or shareholder

12. Changing the Claims Act—The Key Players
Nearly every Native organization in the state is jumping on the "Let's do something about ANCSA" idea. What began as grassroots dissatisfaction with the act has now shifted into a well-organized movement. There is the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, the United Tribes of Alaska, the Alaska Federation of Natives, and Association of Village Council Presidents, and others.

13. Recommendations of the Alaska Native Review Commission
An historic journey by Canadian Judge Thomas R. Berger has culminated in some provocative recommendations about the options open to Alaska's Natives. Listeners will hear a cross-section of views about what Berger reported and how this may affect changes in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.

14. Other Settlements with Indigenous Peoples Settlement Act
The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act inspired other indigenous peoples in the world to seek land claims in the settlements with their countries. This program will look at those efforts in Canada, Greenland, Australia, Norway, and elsewhere. Now some of the land claims proposals of others are being studied by Alaskans seeking to improve ANCSA.

15. The Dream versus the Reality
The final segment considers what people wanted all along in land claims and what they got. Should all the hard work of the past be scrapped? How has the dream changed? Voices of many people speak of the future, what they want and how they will go about getting it for themselves and their Children.

16. Special Program--Berger's Recommendations

 

 

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Alaska Native Knowledge Network
University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Phone (907) 474.1902
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Last modified February 7, 2007