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Holding Our Ground Part 6


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 LAND AND THE CORPORATIONS"
(Part 6 of 16)

[Georgianna Lincoln] We took the stand no road, and so no development. But, the road should be in because it's going right through very valuable mining grounds that the corporation owns. I sat there knowing that I should, as a profit making corporation, vote for a road because that's development. But that clashes many times with subsistence, with trapping, hunting, your own way of life in the village. And I think that there's going to be a head to head confrontation between village and regional corporations, because the regional corporations must go into production. I mean they have to to survive and production means development of lands.

[NARRATOR] THE LANDS THAT SOME PEOPLE WANT TO DEVELOP SO CORPORATIONS CAN MAKE A PROFIT ARE THE SAME LANDS THAT OTHERS WANT TO KEEP FREE OF DEVELOPMENT. CAN THE CORPORATIONS CREATED BY THE ALASKA NATIVE CLAIMS SETTLEMENT ACT BE USEFUL TOOLS WITHOUT BECOMING AN INTRUSION INTO THE VILLAGE LIFE? AS LONG AS LANDS REMAIN A CORPORATE ASSET, THE ANSWERS WILL NOT COME EASILY. 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.

[Sam Demientieff] Who does own the land? If you go out to a village you can talk to the village people and they think they own land, but they don't actually own the land, the village and/or the regional corporation owns the land. And they're shareholders owning shares in the corporation, so they don't own directly the land title themselves. It belongs to the corporation of which they are members.

SAM DEMIENTIEFF IS ONE OF MANY TRYING TO STRAIGHTEN OUT THE CONFUSION ABOUT LAND OWNERSHIP. IN 1971, THE ALASKA NATIVE CLAIMS SETTLEMENT ACT, OR ANCSA, CREATED A NEW FORM OF LANDHOLDING FOR ALASKA'S NATIVE PEOPLES. CONGRESS DECIDED THAT ABOUT ONE-TENTH OF ALASKA WOULD GO TO NATIVE PROFIT-MAKING CORPORATIONS; NOT TO INDIVIDUALS, NOT TO NATIVE GOVERNMENTS. THEY DIVIDED THE LAND AMONG 12 REGIONAL CORPORATIONS AND MORE THAN 200 VILLAGE CORPORATIONS.

MANY PEOPLE HAVE QUESTIONED THE USEFULNESS OF A CORPORATION ON THE VILLAGE LEVEL. THERE ARE FEW RESOURCES OR SERVICES THAT CAN MAKE MONEY IN THE LIMITED CASH ECONOMY OF MOST REMOTE AREAS. THE CORPORATIONS CAME ABOUT UNDER UNUSUAL CIRCUMSTANCES.

GEORGIANNA LINCOLN.
Any other corporation in this world, that when they form a company they form a company for a specific task. Either they're going to be making cars or they're going to be real estate, or they're going to be a movie company, or something, but they go into it already knowing what they're setting up their company to do. That's unlike us, who inherited corporations, that we're told to now go out and invest, and invest wisely because you only have until 1991, whatever that magic is supposed to be about 1991.

CONGRESS GAVE NATIVE CORPORATIONS 20 YEARS TO MAKE IT ON THEIR OWN. IN 1991 RESTRICTIONS WILL BE TAKEN OFF THE STOCK AND
IT CAN BE SOLD ON THE OPEN MARKET. THE CORPORATIONS WILL THEN BE LIKE ALL OTHER CORPORATIONS IN THE UNITED STATES: SUBJECT TO TAXATION AND TAKEOVERS. THERE ARE ALREADY CREDITORS DEMANDING ANCSA LANDS PLEDGED AS COLLATERAL TO BANKS. THE SHAREHOLDERS ARE WORRIED THEY MIGHT LOSE THE VERY LANDS THEY WANTED TO SAVE WITH THE CLAIMS ACT.

SAM DEMIENTIEFF.
If the for profit corporation does go ahead with its goal to make money and also wants to develop the land, there is a problem in how they work that out with the village people, who are also shareholders of the same corporation. The shareholders in turn are trying to respond to retaining their culture, and I think the profit corporations are trying to do the same thing.

THE SHAREHOLDERS ARE ONLY THOSE ALASKA NATIVES BORN BEFORE ANCSA PASSED IN DECMEBER 1971. MOST HAVE 100 SHARES IN A VILLAGE CORPORATION AND 100 SHARES IN A REGIONAL CORPORATION. THE LARGEST ASSET OF MOST CORPORATIONS IS THE LAND, WHICH PREVIOUSLY HAD NO CASH VALUE TO THE NATIVE PEOPLES WHO USED AND OCCUPIED IT. THE SHAREHOLDERS BECAME INSTANT MEMBERS OF CORPORATE AMERICA, BUT WITH A DIFFERENT SORT OF CORPORATION.

ROLAND SHANKS IS LAND MANAGER FOR EKLUTNA CORPORATION.
You have no majority shareholder. You have no owner and starter of the corporation. You have untold numbers of people coming together, all receiving an equal status in the corporation and oftentimes with very, very radically different ideas of where that corporation should go; everywhere from the person who has very corporate types of goals to some of the people who have very traditional types of goals. Under one management they kind of go one direction, and under the next management all of a sudden they are radically going in another direction and there is very little continuity.

WHY WOULD CONGRESS, ACTING WITH THE BLESSING OF NATIVE LAND CLAIMS ACTIVISTS, THROW THE LAND, THE MOST VALUABLE NATIVE ASSET, INTO THE ROLLER-COASTER WORLD OF CORPORATE POLITICS AND ECONOMICS? SOME SUGGEST IT WAS A WAY FOR ALASKA NATIVES TO SHARE IN THE AMERICAN DREAM BY MAKING THEM SUCCESSFUL AND SELF-RELIANT, OR TO BLEND THEM INTO THE AMERICAN SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC MAINSTREAM.

WILLIAM VAN NESS WORKED FOR WASHINGTON SENATOR HENRY JACKSON AND HAD A HAND IN CREATING ANCSA.
It was a very radical effort at social engineering and it was done on a very, very calculated basis. And I think that most of the participants understood that there were massive risks that they were undertaking here. Many of the people, most of the people who wound up in positions of top leadership in the regional corporations and the village corporations knew very, very little about the corporation; very, very little about the cash economy, in some cases; very, very unsophisticated. They had access to varying grades of competence and consultants and investment advisors and attorneys, and they made a lot of mistakes in some instances. But even recognizing those mistakes and looking back on it, they did terrifically well in my judgment.

SUCCESS IS MEASURED IN MANY WAYS. DENNIS TIPPLEMAN IS PRESIDENT OF K-I-C, THE VILLAGE CORPORATION IN KOTZEBUE.
We looked at our operations from a stand point of strictly how much money did we make, how much money did we spend. Were we profitable? Yes. We declared a dividend of $1.25 a share. Does it symbolize success? Yes, it symbolizes success, in that we have used somebody else's instrument, we've used somebody else's tool as a measure of success and we've made it work. But we have not made it work to the way we think we would like to live.

MOST VILLAGE CORPORATIONS HAVE NOT BEEN AS FINANCIALLY SUCCESSFUL AS K-I-C. FEW HAVE PAID DIVIDENDS MORE THAN ONCE OR TWICE, MANY ARE ON THE VERGE OF BANKRUPTCY. WHOEVER CONTROLS THE CORPORATION, ALSO CONTROLS THE CORPORATION LANDS. IF NATIVES LOSE CONTROL OF THEIR LANDS, SOME SAY NATIVE CULTURES WILL DISAPPEAR.

This is a statement from Pete Schaeffer, [read by Reggie Joule]. Profit as a motive for a nation geared to it is a very powerful force that is quite boundless in its search for itself. It has built and destroyed nations and in its path it has left destruction and much sorrow for the people that live on the land, both the original inhabitants and those that chose to live there. What is happening now is following the same path of those examples.

WHILE SOME NATIVES MAY QUESTION THE PROFIT MOTIVE, AND EVEN MISTRUST THE WESTERN NOTION OF PROGRESS, THEY LOOK FOR A BALANCE BETWEEN TRADITIONAL AND MODERN LIFESTYLES.

We the Native people of Alaska finally had land and money. (ROBIN SAMUELSON). We all thought we had the best of both worlds. With all our money we could go out and buy businesses or start new ones and make a lot of money for our shareholders. Well, it didn't work out that way for some. Many regional and village corporations woke up too late. Most of their money was gone. Shareholders, as well as family members, fighting against each other. Was this the Native way? What did this act that passed in 1971 do to us? Were we set up for failure? Was this act set up so attorneys and consultants grew richer and Native shareholders grew poorer and in the end they would lose their land? A part of me says yes and the other half says no.

GEORGIANNA LINCOLN OF RAMPART.
We really set up, I think, people to have false expectations of what a corporation is. How do you survive and how do you help others within the community and outside of the community. And for our corporations, you know we're talking about what's the bottom line, making money and a profit.

TO MANY NATIVE PEOPLE, THE CORPORATION HAS TAKEN ON A LIFE OF ITS OWN BY RESTRICTING ACTIVITIES THAT USED TO BE TAKEN FOR GRANTED.

[Georgianna Lincoln] When I was president of the village corporation a few years back, I recall some of the people in Tanana coming up and coming to see me and asking if they could go up and cut logs up river on corporation land. And my goodness, before that, we didn't even have to say aye or nay, and I had to say no, that they couldn't do that, because that was corporation land, and that was the timber meant dollars. Before, you know, they never had to ask that, they could just go ahead and do it.

MIKE ALBERT OF TUNUNAK.
Under the Act, we have found out that the surface land only belongs to the shareholders in the whole area. And all the subsurface land belongs to our regional corporation called Calista Corporation. There is lots of coal on the island here, on Nelson Island, and people used to do their mining anytime when they feel like it, during the summer. And dig out any amount of coal they want to for their winter use. However, today, it's almost impossible due to the cost of the land; we have to pay our regional corporation for that piece of land we disturb in order to get the coal.

THE SUBSURFACE UNDER VILLAGE LANDS BELONGS TO THE REGION. ONE OF THE BIGGEST CONTROVERSIES TO PIT VILLAGES AGAINST THEIR REGIONAL CORPORATIONS WAS GRAVEL, BECAUSE GRAVEL IS FOUND BOTH ON AND BELOW THE SURFACE.

We were involved in a lawsuit against our regional corporation, (WALTER TELLMAN), who was saying they own the subsurface, which was all the rock and gravel. We were selling land to be able to be in this law suit. We thought that the rock was ours, 'cause it's laying on the surface. But it's pretty ironic that I belong to both corporations, my one corporation was suing my other corporation.

The sand and gravel issue was a very sore spot with me. (GILBERT OLSEN). It is one of our very best sources of income in this area, but we cannot utilize it. The village corporations should have the subsurface.

BUT THEY DON'T. A RECENT COURT RULING DECIDED THAT GRAVEL WAS INDEED A SUBSURFACE RIGHT AND THEREFORE OWNED BY THE REGIONAL CORPORATION. SINCE MOST VILLAGES ARE ACCESSIBLE ONLY BY PLANE OR BOAT, GRAVEL IS IMPORTANT. MANY VILLAGERS GRUMBLE THAT THEY OUGHT TO CHARGE THE REGIONAL CORPORATION TO GO ACROSS THE SURFACE TO GET TO THE SUBSURFACE; OTHERS SAY THEY DON'T WANT TO OWN THE GRAVEL, JUST REARRANGE IT INTO LOCAL ROADS, FOUNDATIONS, AND AIRPORTS. UNDER ANCSA, 70 PER CENT OF THE PROFITS THAT REGIONAL CORPORATIONS MAKE FROM GRAVEL AND SUBSURFACE MINERALS MUST BE SHARED WITH THE OTHER CORPORATIONS. MONEY ASIDE, THE SEPARATION OF THE SURFACE AND SUBSURFACE ESTATE AFFECTS THE TRADITIONAL IDEA THAT PEOPLE AND THE LAND WERE ALWAYS A PART OF EACH OTHER.

MIKE ALBERT.
Now look at all the people, old people, our parents, our grandparents, our great-grandparents, all buried on the ground in the land which does not belong to us anymore. But now under the Act is called in the land of Calista Corporation.

ANCSA SEEMS TO HAVE DETAILS WITHOUT END, BUT NO MATTER HOW DEEPLY ONE GETS INVOLVED IN THE DETAILS, THE CENTRAL FOCUS IS LAND. PEOPLE IN VILLAGES ALL OVER ALASKA HAVE INDICATED THEY WANT TO HOLD ONTO THEIR ANCSA LANDS FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS. EVEN THOUGH THE LANDS ARE A SMALL PORTION OF THE AREAS ALASKA NATIVES HAVE TRADITIONALLY USED AND OCCUPIED. ALONG WITH THE LAND ARE CONCERNS ABOUT CONTINUED SUBSISTENCE USE AND CONTROL OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT. CORPORATIONS ARE NOT WELL SUITED TO DEAL WITH THESE VERY BASIC CONCERNS AND IT HAS LEAD TO CONFUSION WHEN PEOPLE TRY TO IDENTIFY WITH THE TRADITIONAL AND CORPORATE WORLDS AT THE SAME TIME.

CLAUDE DEMIENTIEFF.
By owning the stock and owning the land you're looking at two different things. Although it's all wrapped up under one umbrella called a corporation, which in itself is a foreign entity. When you own stock that is a sense of profitability or a sense of greed. You want to sell your stock, you either sell it for money or if you want to buy some more stock, you're looking toward the future and hoping that stock will be worth more money down the road. Land ownership relates to the subsistence of the people.

TREFON ANGASON IS PRESIDENT OF ALASKA PENINSULA CORPORATION.
Our selections are often the best land near the village for hunting, fishing, and trapping. And the Alaska Peninsula Corporation will be forced to develop some of those prime lands.

GLEN FREDERICKS PRESIDENT OF KUSKOKWIM CORPORATION
...When I go out to my villages they ask me, "What, if I sold my stock, if I had the right to sell it, where do I then fit?" I say, "Well, I guess you're non-Native then, you know." "Where can I hunt?" "Well according to corporations, you just sold your stock, and your land, you can't even, by right, go hunting," because the way the system is now, if I sold my stock I sold my land rights. That's why it's so important to me to separate the land. And that's what the Natives are telling us. "Hold that land!"

FREDERICKS HAS BEEN LARGELY RESPONSIBLE FOR MERGING 10 VILLAGE CORPORATIONS ON THE KUSKOKWIM RIVER, BECAUSE THEY WERE UNLIKELY TO SURVIVE BY THEMSELVES.

I was enrolled when Georgetown was a little individual corporation with 28 people I believe were enrolled there. We got a sum of $34,000 and 69,000 acres of land when we first started. And our audits at that time, just keeping track of the $34,000 that we received, we were required to have an audit worth something like $18,000. So by looking at that and knowing some of these little villages, they just wouldn't survive.

THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR'S 1985 STUDY ABOUT THE SUCCESS OF ANCSA ADMITS THAT ONLY 5 OR 6 VILLAGE CORPORATIONS WOULD HAVE BEEN LIKELY TO SUCCEED.

LARRY MERCULIEFF IS PRESIDENT OF TANADGUSIX CORPORATION ON ST. PAUL ISLAND. HE THINKS HE KNOWS WHY.
Little seed capital, lack of local business opportunities, lack of human resources trained in or experienced in the business arena, the leadership spread to thin by the numerous demands placed on them from inside the village and out, political pressures to invest in something despite odds of succeeding or risk, the biases of the business community, and unrealistic shareholder expectations. We have faced these same problems.

TANADGUSIX HAS BEEN SUCCESSFUL AND ACCORDING TO MERCULIEFF, IT HAS KEPT SOCIAL AND CULTURAL VALUES IN THE OPERATIONS OF THE CORPORATION. MORE THAN A THOUSAND MILES SOUTHEAST OF ST. PAUL IS THE VILLAGE OF KASAAN, ANOTHER RARE SUCCESS STORY AMONG VILLAGE CORPORATIONS. KASAAN SOLD A LARGE PORTION OF THEIR VILLAGES TIMBER RIGHTS.

VICTOR HALDANE OF HYDABURG.
100 million board feet worth 25 million dollars, that's when the price was up high, and that's without the cost of operation and everything like that. Now they got a golden egg, a nest egg, where each one of their members gets 10,000 a year just from the interest.

MOST VILLAGE CORPORATIONS HAVE HAD A TOUGH TIME EVEN GETTING THEIR LANDS. THE ALASKA NATIVE CLAIMS SETTLEMENT ACT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE DONE QUICKLY AND WITHOUT LITIGATION. ESTIMATES HAVE BEEN MADE THAT OVER ONE-THIRD OF A BILLION DOLLARS WAS LOST TO LITIGATION AND MISSED OPPORTUNITIES, THAT ARE NO FAULT OF THE CORPORATIONS. ONLY THREE-FOURTHS OF THE LAND DUE ALASKA NATIVES HAS ACTUALLY BEEN CONVEYED 15 YEARS AFTER THE ACT. CORPORATIONS THAT WANTED TO RAISE MONEY BY PLEDGING THE LANDS AS COLLATERAL HAVE BEEN FORCED TO WAIT.

ROGER SNIPPEN IS PRESIDENT OF SITKA'S SHEE-ATIKÁ CORPORATION.
To date the corporation has had an extremely difficult time. They've existed solely on borrowed funds, and the corporation did not receive its land entitlements, the first part of its land entitlements until December of 1981.

AFTER CORPORATIONS RECEIVE TITLE TO THE LANDS, IT DOESN'T MEAN THAT BANKS WILL TAKE THEM FOR COLLATERAL. IF THERE IS A LAWSUIT, THE BANKS ARE NOTIFIED ABOUT THE DISPUTED LANDS.

[Roger Snippen] So you couldn't use that asset as a collateral to attract capital to the corporation to build on. And of course a corporation without money is just a shell. You can't operate, you can't provide services.

TO SAVE ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS, SOME SMALL VILLAGE CORPORATIONS HAVE MERGED WITH OTHER VILLAGES OR IN SOME CASES WITH THE REGIONAL CORPORATION. BOOK KEEPING IS ONE CORPORATION'S ONLY ACTIVITY. CANADIAN JUDGE THOMAS BERGER SPOKE ABOUT CHENEGA VILLAGE CORPORATION WITH LARRY EVANOFF AS PART OF THE ALASKA NATIVE REVIEW COMMMISSION INQUIRY INTO ANCSA.

[BERGER] You have to have an audit every year?
[EVANOFF] That's correct.
[BERGER] What does your corporation do besides have an audit?
[EVANOFF] As far as making a profit, nothing.
[BERGER] Does it have any employees?
[EVANOFF] No, it doesn't.
[BERGER] So it exists on paper?
[EVANOFF] It exists. We pay our taxes, we pay for our audits, and that's about it.

STATE LAW SAYS THAT THE CORPORATIONS MUST PURSUE A PROFIT, AND THAT IF ANY DISTRIBUTIONS ARE MADE, THEY MUST BE MADE EQUALLY TO ALL SHAREHOLDERS.

DON STANDIFER IS A MEMBER OF THE TYONEK TRIBAL GOVERNMENT AND A MEMBER OF THE VILLAGE CORPORATION BOARD OF DIRECTORS.
There is certain things you have to follow in a profit corporation, and a lot of those rules of the game don't allow you to get involved into the social, political aspects of the Native people that the Native people so much expects from a corporation.

HOW PEOPLE FEEL ABOUT THEIR CORPORATION DEPENDS ON ITS FORTUNES AND WHAT IT MEANS TO PEOPLE. ONE OF THE RICHEST REGIONAL CORPORATIONS IS COOK INLET REGION. ROY HUNDORF IS PRESIDENT. HE RECENTLY WROTE THAT NATIVE CORPORATIONS PLAY AN INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT ROLE IN ALASKA'S ECONOMY. HE WROTE.
[Character voice] The Native corporations have recognized that their destiny is tightly bound to Alaska and as a consequence, they have taken an interest in the basic industries of the state, industries that are important to the economic health of the Native community and the state as a whole. Commercial fishing, cannery operation, air travel, construction, oil and gas, minerals, coal, timber, and industry support service businesses have all benefited from substantial investments from Native corporations.

HE ESTIMATES 750 MILLION DOLLARS WAS SPENT ON EXPLORATION AND DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES ON NATIVE LANDS DURING THE PAST SIX YEARS.

JOHN BORBRIDGE HELPED PASS ANCSA MORE THAN FIFTEEN YEARS AGO, AND HE SAYS CORPORATIONS HAVE GIVEN NATIVES A TOOL TO MANAGE CHANGE INSTEAD OF ALWAYS BEING ITS VICIM.
Cultural integrity seems almost impossible to maintain in the midst of change, but if we translate it not as an effort to prevent change, but as one to control it, and to influence it, then it's clear that the increased economic muscle afforded the Alaska Natives through their corporations and through their ownership of their lands, does place in their hands a tool that will give them a greater opportunity to shape the extent and nature of the change that will take place with respect to their culture.

ALASKA NATIVES HAVE DECIDED THEY WANT TO KEEP THEIR LANDS, BUT THEY HAVEN'T YET DECIDED HOW. THE LAND IS NOT SECURE AS LONG AS IT REMAINS IN CORPORATE HANDS AND THE LAW REMAINS UNCHANGED. CORPORATE MANAGEMENTS WORRY THAT PEOPLE MAY SELL THEIR SHARES IN 1991.

JOLI MORGON OF BETHEL.
When you get to your question of are people going to sell shares or not, for the regional corporation I'd say yes, because the regional corporation doesn't mean anything to people. It's in Anchorage, it's lost millions of dollars, it has no direct impact on people's lives except for some very small dividend checks that have come out.

EVEN IF PEOPLE DECIDE NOT SO SELL THEIR SHARES, THE CORPORATION CAN STILL GO INTO BANKRUPTCY, OR LOSE LANDS IF TAXES CAN'T BE PAID ON THEM. THERE ARE CURRENTLY NO LAND TAXES, BUT ALASKA'S OIL IS RUNNING OUT, AND THE STATE COULD EASILY CREATE A LAND TAX. CREDITORS ARE ALREADY ATTEMPTING TO SEIZE ANCSA LANDS PLEDGED AS COLLATERAL FROM CORPORATIONS THAT TRIED EARNESTLY TO MAKE A PROFIT BUT DIDN'T. MOST BELIEVE THAT LOSING THE LAND IS TOO HIGH A PRICE TO PAY FOR PEOPLES WHOSE CULTURES ARE BASED ON THOSE LANDS.

PERRY EATON OF KODIAK.
We are people of the land. For the non-Native who comes into the country, land represents an opportunity. To take advantage of that opportunity, he must use and change the land. He must subdivide it, he must sell it, he must put in a farm, he must put in a cannery, he must use the opportunity that the land represents. And the land is only, to him, opportunity. When we look at land we don't see opportunity, we see ourselves, we see our ancestors, we see our future homes, our present homes, and our past homes. Until we as people in our villages have that ancestral land set aside, reserved, and we have that comfort level within our hearts, I don't think that there will be any harmony in the Native community, ever.

THERE ARE MANY IDEAS ABOUT HOW BEST TO SAVE THE LAND SUCH AS RESTRICTING SALE OF STOCK, TRANSFERRING THE LAND TO A TRUST, LAND BANKS, NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS, OR TRIBAL GOVERNMENTS. CONGRESS WILL BE ASKED TO MAKE SOME CHANGES IN 1986, AND IN OUR NEXT PROGRAM WE WILL LOOK AT IDEAS TO SAVE NATIVE LANDS. FOR HOLDING OUR GROUND, THIS IS ADELINE RABOFF.

[PRODUCTION CREDITS] THIS PROGRAM WAS PRODUCED BY JIM SYKES, WRITTEN BY DOUG BARRY, RESEARCHED AND EDITED BY SUE BURRUS. SPECIAL THANKS TO THE COMMUNITY OF GAMBELL FOR DANCING, SINGING, AND DRUMMING, AND ALSO TO THE INUIT CIRCUMPOLAR CONFERENCE. "HOLDING OUR GROUND" IS A PRODUCTION OF WESTERN MEDIA CONCEPTS WHICH IS SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONTENT.

[FUNDING CREDITS] 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

 

 

Go to University of AlaskaThe University of Alaska Fairbanks is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and educational institution and is a part of the University of Alaska system.

 


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Last modified February 7, 2007