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Holding Our Ground Part 11


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.
"FROM HUNTER, FISHER, GATHERER TO CORPORATE DIRECTOR"
(Part 11 of 16)

(Margie Johnson) They were literally plucked as fishermen from the village and put in Washington D.C. and fought toe to toe, head to head with some of the finest that the Eastern establishment had to offer, and a miraculous thing happened. Alaska Native people won.

AFTER ALASKA NATIVES WON THE ALASKA NATIVE CLAIMS SETTLEMENT ACT IN 1971, DRAMATIC CHANGES AFFECTED NEARLY EVERY ASPECT OF LIVING IN VILLAGE ALASKA. PEOPLE WERE FORCED TO LEARN THE AMERICAN BUSINESS WORLD AND GIVEN 20 YEARS IN WHICH TO DO IT. NOW A LOOK AT HOW HUNTERS AND FISHERS BECAME CORPORATE DIRECTORS. THIS IS 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.

[Wally Olsen] It would be much like if some Eskimo handed you a harpoon and gave you a skin boat and said, "Okay, now go out and be a successful whaler" and pushed you out to sea and said "There you go". You're doomed to failure, you could never make it. Well, in the same way the corporate format was set up and they said "Okay, now be successful."

[Georgianna Lincoln] Any other corporation in this world, they form a company for a specific task. Either they're going to be making cars or they're going be real estate, but they go into it already knowing what they're setting up their company to do. That's unlike us, who inherited corporations that were told to now go out and invest, and invest wisely because you only have until 1991.

MANY LIKE WALLY OLSEN AND GEORGIANNA LINCOLN ENTERED THE CORPORATE WORLD QUICKLY, BUT NOT EASILY. WHEN CONGRESS PASSED ANCSA, IN 1971, ALASKA NATIVES SUDDENLY HAD TO RUN THE CORPORATIONS CREATED BY THE ACT--12 LARGE REGIONAL CORPORATIONS AND MORE THAN 200 VILLAGE CORPORATIONS. THE CORPORATIONS SHARED NEARLY A BILLION DOLLARS AND ONE-TENTH OF THE LAND IN ALASKA. BUSINESS PEOPLE HAD TO BE FOUND QUICKLY.


LILLY MC GARVEY.
We became boards of directors, we became presidents, secretaries, vice-presidents, treasurers of million dollar corporations. It's just as if somebody went down on the street of Anchorage, picked anybody coming up the street and said, "Hey, you're a corporation president, or you're a corporation secretary". There was no provision for any type of training to really show us what a corporation was, how it should be run. So we have struggled.

WHILE ANCSA CORPORATIONS HAVE STRUGGLED TO STAY AFLOAT FOR MORE THAN A DOZEN YEARS, THE STRUGGLE FOR LAND CLAIMS WAS THEIR BEGINNING. MANY TRIBAL GROUPS HAD ASSERTED THEIR RIGHTS TO AREAS OF LAND SINCE THE 1940'S, THE REAL STATEWIDE PUSH BEGAN IN APRIL 1967 WITH EMIL NOTTI. HE DISCOVERED THE BIA PLANNED TO SETTLE THE LAND PROBLEM IN ALASKA.
I thought well if the Bureau of Indian Affairs is going to draw up a final solution the Indian people ought to have something to say about what that solution is. I called the first meeting, I wrote letters to 14 or 15 people around the state, most of whom I didn't know.

NOTTI'S LETTER WAS WELL PUBLICIZED AND OVER 300 PEOPLE SHOWED UP. THESE PEOPLE FORMED THE ALASKA FEDERATION OF NATIVES ASSOCIATION TO PROMOTE GRASS ROOTS ISSUES THAT AFFECTED NATIVE LAND CLAIMS. EMIL NOTTI BECAME AFN'S FIRST PRESIDENT.

THE RELATIVELY NEW STATE OF ALASKA WAS SELECTING LANDS GRANTED UNDER STATEHOOD, AND NATIVE PEOPLES QUESTIONED "BY WHAT RIGHT" THOSE LANDS WERE BEING SELECTED.


SPUD WILLIAMS, PRESIDENT OF TANANA CHIEFS CONFERENCE.
There was a large segment of land being claimed by the state itself, with no real legal right to make those claims. Everybody knew that. Federal government knew it, the State knew it. And you could see all of the land disappearing under pieces of paper called deeds and claims. It was becoming apparent that there would soon be no land left for any kind of a Native Claims Settlement Act.

ALASKA NATIVES CONVINCED INTERIOR SECRETARY STEWART UDALL TO FREEZE STATE LAND SELECTIONS UNTIL A SETTLEMENT COULD BE REACHED.


WILLIE HENSELY
...The State of Alaska fought vehemently because we in effect were going at the state's economic jugular, because the State had a very small population with a very small tax base and was in effect using the public lands, it's state selections as a matter of fact, as a vault which they could sell leases on and what not to try to balance the budget.

STILL ALASKA NATIVES DID NOT GET THE EAR OF CONGRESS IN A SERIOUS WAY UNTIL OIL COMPANIES WANTED OIL FROM PRUDHOE BAY.


JOHN BORBRIDGE.
The nation needed oil. A pipeline could not be built without the passage of ANCSA, which would be the vehicle for clearing title to the land over which the oil companies wanted to construct the Alaska Pipeline.

EARLY CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS WERE HELD IN 1968 AND 1969.

[John Borbridge] We asserted our rights before Chairman Aspinall. The first questions he asked was this "Are you Native people entitled to a land settlement? What are your rights?" Later on, the question came of how much and how should it be administered, but we had to get past the barrier "Were we entitled to a settlement?" and history shows very clearly that the land rights that had been asserted by Indian tribes had been an assertion of aboriginal title. In Alaska there had been no extinguishment of this Indian or Aboriginal title. We Alaska Natives were on and using the land.

ELDERS TRAVELLED TO TELL CONGRESS ABOUT THEIR CONTINUING USE AND OCCUPANCY OF ABORIGINAL LANDS.

[John Borbridge] The congressmen after all, were being introduced to the users of the land and more importantly the users of the land were being introduced to the members of the Congress. The congressional committees were also receiving a demonstration as was intended, that the Native leadership had the full support of the Elders, the grass roots people, those who lived on, used, and occupied the land on a daily basis.

IN ADDITION TO POWERFUL TESTIMONY BY NATIVE ELDERS, THE LAND CLAIMS LEADERS WINED, DINED, AND PERSUADED THE POWER BROKERS IN CONGRESS TO THE ALASKAN POINT OF VIEW. DETAILS OF THE SETTLEMENT BEGAN FORMING.

[John Borbridge] Congressmen were concerned as to how assets received from settlement legislation would be used. Some of them confided they had heard horror stories about Indian spending sprees following per capita distributions. Testimony about constructive plans for the use of settlement act monies reassured them and they needed reassuring. They understood, the congressmen did, economic development, and they approved of it as an objective. This, after all was a concept very common in their world. So we spoke about plans for economic development.

THE IDEA OF CORPORATIONS EMERGED AS A WAY TO HOLD ASSETS AND LAND. THE LANDS COULD BE LOST THROUGH BANKRUPTCY AND IN 1991 THEY WOULD ALSO BE AT RISK FROM CORPORATE TAKEOVER AND TAXATION. MANY WONDER WHY CONGRESS AND LAND CLAIMS LEADERS WOULD PUT THE VERY LANDS THAT NATIVE PEOPLES HOPED TO SAVE FOREVER, IN SOMETHING AS RISKY AS A CORPORATION.


EMIL NOTTI.
We didn't want trust lands. In a lot of ways this was a social experiment. They were trying to find a way, I think, to get the Indian into the economic mainstream of America.

FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL RAMSEY CLARK.
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.

We decided that if we were going to make mistakes, we'd do it ourselves. (EMIL NOTTI) If we were going to be poor we'd at least be responsible for what we did. And it's probably best to get people independent. And one of the quickest ways to familiarize people with the economic system is to give them a stake in it. And what better stake is there than a hundred shares in a corporation.

ACCORDING TO BYRON MALLOT, THE LAND CLAIMS NEGOTIATORS OF A-F-N, THE ALASKA FEDERATION OF NATIVES, WANTED TO INVOLVE THE PEOPLE BACK HOME IN THE DECISION AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, BUT EVENTS IN WASHINGTON D.C. MOVED VERY QUICKLY.
Ultimately it was the board of directors of AFN that made the crucial decisions on behalf of the Native people in Washington, we could not have made any forward movement any other way. At some point you have to make decisions.

DON WRIGHT WAS THE SECOND PRESIDENT OF A-F-N, ONE OF THE NEGOTIATORS WHO MADE THOSE IMPORTANT DECISIONS.
We would stand in the halls of Congress before a subcommittee room or a committee room and wait and wonder, while representatives of the State of Alaska, senators and congressmen, cut deals behind closed doors that we knew nothing about and had no control over. I was told by the White House that a bill would pass and that we had no say from that day forward. I didn't believe that. I thought we could change it. I thought there was true democracy, that there was true justice.

NEITHER THE DELEGATION IN WASHINGTON NOR THE FOLKS BACK HOME KNEW EXACTLY WHAT WAS IN THE FINAL BILL. A-F-N PRESIDENT DON WRIGHT WANTED TO KNOW ALL THE FINAL DETAILS AND GET THEM APPROVED BY THE PEOPLE HE REPRESENTED.
So I pleaded with the White House that the President not sign the bill until at least we could convene in Anchorage and deliberate on the final draft that was approved by the joint conferences of the Senate and the House of Representatives. They said "Do what you gotta do, but it's done." I said "Well it would sure be nice if the President could address the Native people, and ask them what they thought and at least allow them to take a vote. They said again "We're sorry, but that isn't the way it works."

PIECES OF THE BILLS THAT THE LAND CLAIMS NEGOTIATORS THOUGHT MIGHT BE IN THE FINAL BILL WERE TAKEN TO ANCHORAGE FOR THE FULL AFN CONVENTION TO CONSIDER, EVEN THOUGH IT WAS APPARENT NO CHANGES WOULD BE MADE IN THE ACT. AT THE CONVENTION IN DECEMBER 1971, SOME DELEGATES OPPOSED IT, MANY DIDN'T UNDERSTAND IT, AND SOME SUPPORTED IT BECAUSE THEY THOUGHT IT WAS THE ONLY CHANCE. MORE THAN 500 OF THE 600 DELEGATES VOTED TO ACCEPT THE ACT.

A total of 511 yes, and 56 no.

The vote is complete...

AFTER THE VOTE THERE WAS NO CHEER, NO APPLAUSE. THERE WERE MANY MIXED FEELINGS. THE TAPED VOICE OF PRESIDENT NIXON WAS PLAYED FOR THE CONVENTION.

Ladies and gentlemen of the AFN, this is the White House in Washington calling. I present the President of the United States.

[President Nixon] I appreciate this opportunity to extend my greetings and best wishes to the Convention of the Alaska Federation of Natives. I want you to be among the first to know that I have just signed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. This is a milestone in Alaska's history, and in the way our government deals with Native and Indian peoples. It shows that institutions of government are responsive.

JOHN SCHAEFFER REMEMBERS THAT THEY FINALLY GOT A COPY OF ANCSA TWO WEEKS AFTER IT PASSED. A THREE-DAY MEETING WAS HELD BEGINNING ON JANUARY 2nd 1972 TO REVIEW THE ACT.
Our consensus after a 3-day thorough review of the act was that there were many problems with the act and some of the solutions could be handled administratively by working with the Department of Interior, but many others would have to take amendments to the act.

AFTER A BITTERSWEET EXPERIENCE WITH THE WORKINGS OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY, ALASKA NATIVES TRIED TO MAKE ANCSA WORK.

THE 12 LARGE REGIONAL CORPORATIONS GOT MOST OF THE START-UP MONIES. THEY ALSO OWNED THE SUBSURFACE OF THE VILLAGE CORPORATION LANDS. VILLAGE CORPORATIONS HAD LITTLE SEED CAPITAL AND FEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR SUCCESS IN MOST CASES. ALL OF THE CORPORATIONS WERE GIVEN 20 YEARS TO SUCCEED, SALE OR TRADING OF STOCK WAS SUSPENDED UNTIL 1991. THE LARGEST CORPORATE ASSET WAS LAND.

By that act, by the act of putting the land into the corporations, the land became an economic asset, (BYRON MALLOT) under law, under every other imaginable understanding of what it means to place an asset into a for-profit business corporation. And so immediately we were on a divergent course as to how that land could best be utilized and how best it could be maintained on behalf of Native people for the long-term future. Because that's not what the land was for. The land was not viewed as an economic asset. It was viewed as the touchstone and the basis from which Native people could maintain their value systems and their cultures.

GORDON PULLAR OF KODIAK
...Individuals who had worked on the mechanics of the Settlement moved directly into corporate management roles. While these people may have been accomplished politicians, it did not necessarily follow that they would excel as business managers. No one seemed to realize this at the time, and the leaders had good intentions and worked hard. Those qualities, noble as they may be do not ensure survival in the American business world.

MANY OF THE LAND CLAIMS LEADERS AND FIRST CORPORATION PRESIDENTS WERE VERY YOUNG, MOST UNDERSTOOD ENGLISH WELL, AND MANY DID NOT SPEAK THEIR NATIVE TONGUE. THEY WERE AN ENTIRELY NEW TYPE OF LEADER OUTSIDE OF THE NATIVE TRADITIONS OF LEADERSHIP.


DENNIS DEMMERT.
As of 1971 we relate to each other very differently from the way we did before. One of these ways that has changed is the decision making process. One thing that I did not appreciate at the time was the training, the very conscious training process that was taking place with the Elders doing the training. The Settlement Act brought about a new way of selecting decision makers, that is the corporate model. One of the questions that I have to ask in my own thinking about this is does this new process bring into play the same kind of leadership skills that we had before?

We've got to go out and lobby to get elected to our regional corporations especially, and our village corporations, and get the votes, (GEORGIANNA LINCOLN) and kind of sell yourself as to why you think that you do such a good job on the board and that's not really Native people's way, to brag about how good you are in anything. And yet when you want to get on the board you'd better explain why you feel that you're more qualified than the next person. That's foreign to us.

[Dennis Demmert] Those old leaders did two things that I thought were very important. One was they were very sensitive to what people wanted and needed. And second, they had a perspective which showed them, I think, times when there were something more important and more necessary than what the people wanted or what people said that they wanted. There were times when they made some decisions when they kind of stood alone, but they had a perspective, I think, learned through their experiences, and learned through their education that really came to bear. And I wonder if we have that any more with the drastic change that has taken place in the political structure in the Native community since 1971?

AFTER THE CLAIMS ACT PASSED THERE WAS A REVOLUTIONARY CHANGE IN A-F-N. THE ALASKA FEDERATION OF NATIVES HAD BEEN A STATEWIDE GRASSROOTS ORGANIZATION DURING THE STRUGGLE TO GET THE CLAIMS ACT PASSED. AFTERWARDS MEMBERS OF THE A-F-N BOARD CREATED A NEW ORGANIZATION CALLED THE ALASKA FEDERATION OF NATIVES, INCORPORATED. IT WAS DESIGNED TO REPRESENT ONLY THE 12 REGIONAL CORPORATIONS, BOTH PROFIT AND NON-PROFIT. THE ORIGINAL A-F-N ASSOCIATION CEASED TO FUNCTION.

UNDER THE NEW A-F-N INCORPORATED, EACH REGIONAL CORPORATION SELECTED THEIR OWN DELEGATES TO ATTEND ANNUAL CONVENTIONS. ALASKA NATIVES HAVE NO STATEWIDE GRASSROOTS ORGANIZATION, BUT THERE ARE NEW DEVELOPMENTS. A-F-N, INCORPORATED ALLOWED ONE THIRD OF THEIR DELEGATES TO BE FROM VILLAGES DURING THE 1985 CONVENTION. IN 1983, A NEW GRASSROOTS ORGANIZATION FORMED CALLED UNITED TRIBES OF ALASKA. ABOUT HALF OF ALASKA'S VILLAGES HAVE JOINED U-T-A WHICH PROMOTES THE POWERS OF NATIVE GOVERNMENTS. ANCSA SAID NOTHING ABOUT NATIVE GOVERNMENTS, BUT THEY MAY OFFER PROTECTIONS THAT WILL ACTUALLY SAVE THE LANDS PEOPLE HAD HOPED FOR WHEN THEY FOUGHT FOR THE LAND CLAIMS ACT. CORPORATIONS AND NATIVE GOVERNMENTS COULD WORK TOGETHER, BUT THE DETAILS HAVE NOT BEEN IRONED OUT.

We forgot about the tribes, you know, and the non-profit part of the thing sat by the wayside for oh, ten years. (JACK WICK) It hasn't been until the last two or three years that the non-profit side, the tribal, the social side of the Natives have been starting to come back.

NON-PROFIT CORPORATIONS EXISTED IN SOME FORM IN MOST REGIONS OF ALASKA BEFORE THE CLAIMS ACT PASSED. IN FACT, ANCSA LANDS AND MONEY COULD HAVE BEEN GIVEN TO NON-PROFITS, BUT SINCE NON-PROFITS AREN'T ALLOWED TO MAKE DISTRIBUTIONS SUCH AS DIVIDENDS, THEY WERE SEEN AT THE TIME AS INFLEXIBLE. THE NON-PROFITS DELIVERED A VARIETY OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES BEFORE ANCSA AND CONTINUE TO DO SO TODAY.

CALEB PUNGOWIYI, PRESIDENT OF KAWERAK, NON-PROFIT.
The Claims Settlement act was good to the non-profit. It gave us legitimacy to work as a tribal organization, it gave us a set boundary to work within a particular region. Although the boundaries had already been pretty much established by the non-profits prior to the Native Claims Settlement Act. We organized in a statewide manner to address mutual problems and concerns.

THE INDIAN SELF DETERMINATION ACT OF 1975 ALSO HELPED NON-PROFITS BY ENCOURAGING CONTRACTS FOR HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES TO BE CHANNELED THROUGH THE NON-PROFIT CORPORATIONS. IRONICALLY SOME OF THE NON-PROFITS HAVE OUTPERFORMED THEIR FOR-PROFIT COUNTERPARTS.

CREDITORS ARE ALREADY DEMANDING LANDS FROM VILLAGE AND REGIONAL CORPORATIONS. TAXATION AND CORPORATE TAKEOVER ARE ALSO THREATS TO CONTINUED LAND OWNERSHIP BY THE CORPORATIONS.

A method must be devised (JACK WICK) to save what land they have left. Whether corporate law precludes them from putting that land in a land bank or in a tribal organization of some kind. But as it stands now I think the Native corporations, there's several filing bankruptcy, selling off assets to pay off debts. But I think the end result if something isn't done is that we're all going to lose the land. And on the other side of the coin, the Federal Government can say, well, we gave it to them and they lost it. But it wasn't easy to hang onto from the very beginning.

Were I to be involved today in the drafting of the Act and using the hindsight that I have gained over the years and the emotional scars of the corporate board room and the acculturation process, I would do some things different. (PERRY EATON FROM KODIAK) Number One there must be cultural lands in Alaska. The Native people must have their own lands, not as corporate assets, but as Native people. I believe any amendment that doesn't achieve that is a stop gap. The other thing that if I were redoing the Act would be to differentiate between the land and opportunity. I think the corporate structure serves very well for opportunity.

BYRON MALLOT
...We took the Act at a time of expectations and hope at a fever pitch and were ultimately thrown into the business of having to implement it with the result that has brought us essentially to this point. The Native people have said, "Hey, where are we? What has this meant? Has it been good for us?" People are saying "Throw the whole thing out and start over" and others are saying "Give us time it'll work" But in my judgment also there were several fatal flaws in the Claims Settlement Act that have to be fixed. I don't think that they can be fixed within the framework of continuing implementation of the Claims Settlement Act. They're the sort of fixes that you can't do on a moving machine. The land was placed in the corporations without really an appreciation, I believe, of what the corporations were and what they could do, because corporations are essentially a business machine.

SOME NATIVE CORPORATIONS HAVE BEAT THE ODDS BY JUST CONTINUING TO EXIST. ACCORDING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR'S 1985 STUDY ON THE SUCCESS OF ANCSA ONLY 12 OR 13 OF THE 200 VILLAGE CORPORATIONS COULD HAVE EXPECTED TO SUCCEED. MANY ARE ON THE BRINK OF BANKRUPTCY OR EXIST ONLY ON PAPER. THE REGIONAL CORPORATIONS, IN GENERAL, HAVE FARED BETTER. ABOUT HALF OF THE REGIONAL CORPORATIONS SHOWED A NET INCOME IN 1985 FROM THE TIME THEY WERE FORMED. CORPORATION FORTUNES CAN CHANGE DRAMATICALLY-FROM THE FORTUNE 500 TO HUGE DEBTS. THEY ARE ALL SEARCHING FOR WAYS TO SAVE THE LAND AND REMAIN FINANCIALLY VIABLE.

JOHN BORBRIDGE
...As one of the prime movers of corporations as a vehicle for the administration of ANCSA assets, I admit I've certainly reached the point of questioning whether corporations are up to the job. Somehow they seem to lack the closeness to the people of tribal governing bodies and somehow they do not seem to possess the personal timeless quality that in my opinion tribal governing bodies have.

ANCSA HAS BEEN AMENDED TWICE ALREADY AND MORE CHANGES ARE ON THE WAY. A-F-N INCORPORATED IS SENDING PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO CONGRESS FOR THE 1986 SESSION TO GIVE CORPORATIONS MORE OPTIONS TO RETAIN CONTROL OF STOCK INCLUDING THE POSSIBILITY OF TRANSFERRING LANDS TO TRIBAL GOVERNMENTS. SOME GROUPS MAY CHALLENGE THE LEGALITY OF ANCSA. AS OTHER GROUPS READY THEIR SUGGESTIONS MORE AMENDMENTS ARE LIKELY TO BE PROPOSED.

DON WRIGHT.
I don't believe the door is closed and I think we've got a long way to go, and that at some point, there will be a reconsideration and justice will truly have been done.

JOIN US FOR OUR NEXT PROGRAM WHEN WE EXAMINE THE CHANGES THAT ALASKA NATIVES ARE PROPOSING TO CLEAR UP THE PROBLEMS OF THE ALASKA NATIVE CLAIMS SETTLEMENT ACT. FOR HOLDING OUR GROUND, THIS IS ADELINE RABOFF.

THIS PROGRAM IS PRODUCED AND WRITTEN BY JIM SYKES AND SUE BURRUS, EDITED BY SUE BURRUS, AND RESEARCHED BY FRANKIE BURRUS. SPECIAL THANKS TO THE COMMUNITY OF GAMBELL FOR DANCING, SINGING, AND DRUMMING, AND ALSO TO THE INUIT CIRCUMPOLAR CONFERENCE, AND THE ALASKA NATIVE FOUNDATION. "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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Last modified February 7, 2007