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The Corporate Whale: ANCSA, The First 10 Years Program

Program 1 of 10
McPherson, Karen Michel 1982

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5...4...3...2...1. 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.

[Narrator] THE CORPORATE WHALE: ANCSA, THE FIRST 10 YEARS.

[] The Reverend Merculieff from St. George Island...

This land of Alaska, which thou gave to our ancestors, who have come and gone before us, is now being handed to us a second time, by the Act of the United States Congress and our untiring efforts. A second chance is given to us by thee to be the new custodians and caretakers.

ON DECEMBER 16, 1981, SEVERAL HUNDRED INDIAN, ESKIMO, AND ALEUT LEADERS GATHERED IN A UNIVERSITY CAFETERIA IN ANCHORAGE, ALASKA, TO CONSIDER THE ALASKA NATIVE LAND CLAIMS SETTLEMENT ACT, ANCSA. FOR THREE DAYS, THEY MET AND DISCUSSED THE BILL. A BILL THAT OFFERED COMPENSATION OF NEARLY HALF A BILLION DOLLARS AND CLOSE TO 1/9TH OF THE STATE'S TOTAL LAND, IN EXCHANGE FOR RELINGUISHING ALL FURTHER ABORIGINAL CLAIMS TO THAT LAND.

THE DOLLAR AMOUNT AND THE VASTNESS OF THE TERRITORY IMPRESSED MANY. SOME PREDICTED THAT ALASKA NATIVES WILL BECOME THE 'SHIEKS OF THE NORTH', COMPARING THE IMINENT FINANCIAL WINDFALL AND POTENTIAL GAIN FOR RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT WITH THE MIDDLE EAST. OTHERS, ESPECIALLY RESIDENTS OF ALASKA'S OIL-RICH ARCTIC SLOPE, FELT THE SETTLEMENT WAS NOT A JUST EXCHANGE FOR CLAIMS TO LAND; THAT THEIR ANCESTORS OCCUPIED AND USED FROM, AS THEY SAID, TIME IMMEMORIAL.

NOW, 10 YEARS AFTER, CONVENTION DELEGATES AGREED TO THE BILL HAMMERED OUT BY CONGRESS AND IS SIGNED INTO LAW BY PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON ON DECEMBER 18, 1971. ALASKA NATIVES HAVE RECEIVED THE MONEY, BUT ARE CUSTODIANS AND CARETAKERS OF LESS THAN ONE HALF OF THE EXPECTED LAND.

THIS 10 PART SERIES, THE CORPORATE WHALE, WILL LISTEN TO SOME OF THE EVENTS LEADING TO THE LAND CLAIMS SETTLEMENT, THE MECHANISMS THAT WERE EMPLOYED TO MANAGE THE ACT, GOVERNMENT AGENCIES AND NATIVE CORPORATIONS, HEAR HOW LEADERS ASSESS THE FIRST 10 YEARS, AND PREDICTIONS FOR 1991.

ØDividin' the maktak is they way it's always been
Dividin' the maktak between family and friends
We're sailin' toward to future, we're anchored in the past
Rich in our tradition, our ways will surely last Ø

IN 1971, THE YEAR ANCSA BECAME LAW, ALASKA WAS REPRESENTED IN CONGRESS BY THE LATE NICK BEGICH IN THE HOUSE, AND MIKE GRAVEL AND TED STEVENS IN THE SENATE.

I'm Ted Stevens, and I'm still a United States Senator. I think one of the key questions was the amount of land in the settlement. In the beginning, that has been listed about a 10...uh...11 million acres and...uh...there are series of Native leaders involved at that time...to where ...in...insisting that ..uh...there had to be...uh...40 million acres...uh....at least. And...uh...the members of the House and Senate of both political parties...uh...kept saying...ya know, "Here....you...you people must come up with a state recommendation...on..on these various issues. We're not going to decide whether the state of Alaska is right or the Native group through the AFN or the members of Congress...uh. You just cannot present this case to us..uh...for a settlement, unique legislative settlement...uh....without some unanimity." And we finally did get together and worked out a series of...uh...positions...uhhhh...which reflected...uh...uh...a...I think a fairly unified approach to...and that was when the bill finally moved.

WILLIE HENSLEY IS NOW PRESIDENT OF NANA DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, A NATIVE CORPORATION SUBSIDARY, AND CHAIRMAN OF A NATIVE-OWNED BANK, UNITED BANK ALASKA. HE HAS BEEN A STATE LEGISLATURE AND PRESIDENT OF THE ALASKA FEDERATION OF NATIVES AND HAS BEEN VERY ACTIVE LOBBYING CONGRESS IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

We had a...uh..lot of..uh....trouble with the ideas that were involved in...in...the approaches that Congress...uh...was trying to impose because..uh..frankly they wanted to make a settlement like a sieve. Ya know, that is you pour all the land and money up here into this big funnel; and then all of a sudden...swoosh....it's, ya know, passed out throughout the society and basically again into non-Native hands through business.

BUSINESS INTERESTS WERE IN FACT POWERFUL INFLUENCES IN MOVING CONGRESS IN THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH TOWARD A SETTLEMENT. IN 1968, ARCO ANNOUNCED THE SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF OIL HAD BEEN DISCOVERED ON THE NORTH SLOPE, ON LANDS TRADITIONALLY USED BY THE IÑUPIAQ ESKIMOS. ON DECEMBER 17, 1971, JOE UPICKSUON OF BARROW, PRESIDENT OF THE ARCTIC SLOPE NATIVE ASSOCIATION, ADDRESSED THE DELEGATES ASSEMBLED IN ANCHORAGE...

The Congress is making this settlement for just one reason. Because the oil of the North Slope is owned by the Iñupiat Eskimos of the Arctic Slope. As it turns out, the pressure of the pipeline simply has required the Congress to move.

DON WRIGHT, PRESIDENT OF THE ALASKA FEDERATION OF NATIVES AND LOBBYIST FOR THE SETTLEMENT, WANTED TO CAPITALIZE ON THAT CONGRESSIONAL MOVEMENT. HE KNEW THE LONG HISTORY, THE YEARS OF STRUGGLE TO OBTAIN THAT DOCUMENT. HE KNEW THAT THE ARCTIC SLOPE WOULD NOT ACCEPT ITS CONDITIONS. AND CONGRESS AND THE PRESIDENT WERE WAITING TO HEAR FROM THE DELEGATES. MANY OF THEM HAVING THEIR FIRST CLOSE LOOK AT ANCSA'S 29 CROWDED PAGES.

The Congress of the United States has acted on a piece of legislation that will make history not only for the state of Alaska but for the United States and for the world. To the best of my knowledge, a land transaction such as this has never taken place anywhere in the world before. It's been the history of most nations to deal in total with other nations, each recognizing sovereignty that was gained by force of arms. The Congress of the United States, at this time, has truly recognized aboriginal title that is vested in you people and left to you as an inheritance by your forefathers. Some of us, individually, may have thoughts about the fairness of this legislation. Some of us, no doubt, are not satisfied totally. The wording in this document is very complex and difficult. It says things that will be interpreted by lawyers in different ways. It was intended to be a total settlement.

Wales...
Here.
Teller...
Here.
Brevig...
Here.

THE ROOM WAS DIVIDED INTO 13 AREAS, CORRESPONDING TO THE 12 REGIONAL CORPORATIONS SET OUT IN THE ACT, PLUS THE POTENTIAL 13TH REGIONAL CORPORATION FOR ALASKA NATIVES LIVING OUTSIDE OF THE STATE. THE GROUP'S CAUCUS: DISCUSSING PROS AND CONS IN THE VOTE THEY WOULD CAST. VOTES THAT COULD PROMPT A PRESIDENTIAL VETO IN MORE YEARS OF CLAIMING NOT GETTING TITLES TO LAND.

There are some things, ya know, granted, that we don't like about it...that we would rather have both on the Senate and House side. The fact of the matter is that we can live with it still...and...and...I personally wouldn't want to take a chance having the bill go through Congress again.

My recommendation would be, based on everything that we have heard, that...uh....we go ahead and prepare...uh... to accept, and that we also as a part of this recommendation start to line out the improvements that we want to make in the bill. And obviously, the bill requires some clarifications, some improvements. And the first we can see we're not perfectly happy with the bill.

I'm George Miller. I represent the Cook Inlet region, the biggest city, Indian village in Alaska: Anchorage, Kenai, Tyonek, Ninilchik, Iliamna, Seldovia. And the region of Cook Inlet recommends the signature of the President of the United States to sign the bill.

Are there any other Regional Chairmen who wish to comment?

My name is Cecil Barnes. I represent Region 11, the Chugach Native Association. And it is the recommendation of the delegation of the Chugach Native Association that the President sign the bill into law.

Are there any other Regions that wish to speak? Tanana Chiefs...

THE GENERAL FEELING OF REGION AFTER REGION WAS THAT WHILE THE ALASKA NATIVE LAND CLAIMS SETTLEMENT ACT WAS AN INPERFECT INSTRUMENT, IT COULD BE WORKED WITH AND FINE TUNED LATER. AMIDST ALL THE POSITIVE SENTIMENT, A ELDERLY TLINGIT MAN CAME TO THE PODIUM. WILLIAM PAUL, SR., ATTORNEY AND FIRST NATIVE MEMBER OF THE TERRITORIAL HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

My theme right now is this: as I said long time ago, "The land is ours. What are you afraid of?" Now we've gone through a struggle, and it seems to be terminating at this time. And it seems to me that you are going to approve of this. But, I want to tell you today, that you ought not to be guided by your fear! The United States Congress admits that we have a legal right to the land, it is ours! In order to satisfy our legal rights, they are offering us the turkey monger.

Ø

Would the Secretary please read the motion?

I move, made by [T]im Wallace, recommends that the President's signature be put on the Land Claims Bill, and was seconded by Harvey Samuelson.

Uh, the question was called last evening, and we're to take the vote at this time. So the Secretary will call the roll. A 'Yes' vote will be approving for the President of United States to sign the Bill into law.

This will be a 'Yes' or 'No' vote. Tlingit and Haida ANB...

Central Council of Southeast Alaska vote 'Yes'.

Central Council Southeast Alaska vote 'Yes'. Tanana Chiefs....Fairbanks Native Association...

The Tanana Chiefs, Fairbanks Native Association vote 'Yes'.

Tanana Chiefs, Fairbanks Native Association vote 'Yes'. Arctic Slope...

NO!

Arctic Slope votes 'No'. Kotzebue...N.A.N.A....

'Yes'.

Kotzebue, N.A.N.A. votes 'Yes'. Tyonek....

Tyonek votes 'Yes'.

Tyonek votes 'Yes'. Washington Chapter....

Washington Chapter votes 'No'....[inaudible]

Washington Chapter votes 'No'. The total number of votes is 567. The total of 511-'Yes' and 56-'No'.

WITH ONLY THE ARCTIC SLOPE AND WASHINGTON REGIONS DISSENTING, THE DELEGATES TO THE DECEMBER 1971 ALASKA FEDERATION OF NATIVES CONVENTION OVERWHELMING ACCEPTED PUBLIC LAW 92-203. AFN PRESIDENT, DON WRIGHT...

We're starting on a new era, the post-settlement era.

YOU'VE BEEN LISTENING TO THE CORPORATE WHALE: ANCSA, THE FIRST 10 YEARS. THE FIRST PROGRAM IN A TEN PART SERIES WRITTEN AND PRODUCED BY KAREN MICHEL MCPHERSON, WITH TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE FROM PHILLIP KAKOWSKI (sp?). FUNDING WAS PROVIDED BY KUAC SPONSORS AND THE ALASKA NATIVE HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM OF THE COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA.

SPECIAL THANKS TO THE HISTORICAL TAPE COLLECTION OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA ARCHIVES AND MUSICIANS HERBIE VENT, BUDDY TABOR, AND FRED WESTERLAND.

 

 

Part 1
"This 10 part series, The Corporate Whale, will listen to some of the events leading to the Land Claims Settlement, the mechanisms that were employed to manage the Act, government agencies, and Native corporations, hear how leaders assess the first 10 years, and predictions for 1991."

Part 2
"Both restrictive provisions included in the Act, what the Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement is, and how it divides up the land and the money will be discussed in this program, the second in a ten part series: The Corporate Whale."

Part 3
"In this program, the third in a ten part series, The Corporate Whale, Native leaders and others involved with the framing of the Land Claims Settlement give some of their thoughts on the corporate concept and how well that mechanism works for dividing the benefits of ANCSA: The Whale."

Part 4
"This program is the fourth in a ten part series, The Corporate Whale: ANCSA, The First Ten Years. Agency representatives and Native corporation leaders will give their perspectives on the land's aspect of the Land Claims Settlement."

Part 5
"In this program, the fifth in a ten part series, The Corporate Whale, leaders of Sealaska and Cook Inlet Region, Inc., will profile their activities in dividing the benefits of ANCSA into profits for shareholders."

Part 6
"In this program, the sixth in a ten part series, The Corporate Whale, leaders from NANA, the Northwest Alaska Native Association region, and Calista Corporation will profile their corporation's activities in managing ANCSA's benefit."

Part 7
"Both the Land Loss Formula and 7(i), the revenue sharing provision, were intended to be equalizers in the Settlement providing resource revenues to regions without rich lands and additional land to those without large populations. This program, the seventh in a ten part series, The Corporate Whale, will examine two regional corporations particularly affected by the provisions, the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation in the north and Doyon Limited in the interior."

Part 8
"In this program, the eighth in a ten part series, The Corporate Whale, village and regional corporation leaders will discuss centered approaches to managing ANCSA's land and money entitlements, and impact."

Part 9
"This program, a ninth in a ten part series, The Corporate Whale, will examine the role of the Alaska Federation of Natives and its efforts to survive and continue to be a unifying body for the corporations who manage ANCSA's benefits."

Part 10
"In this program, the last in a ten part series, The Corporate Whale, leaders involved in land claims implementation assess the bill that Barrow activist Charlie Edwardsen, Jr., Etok, once referred to as 'a new harpoon.'"

Alaska Native Knowledge Network is responsible for the transcription of this series. We would like to humbly apologize for any misspellings in advance.

 

 

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Last modified August 14, 2006