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The Corporate Whale: ANCSA, The First 10 Years Program

Program 4 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.

WITH THE PASSAGE OF THE ALASKA NATIVE LAND CLAIMS SETTLEMENT ACT ON DECEMBER 18, 1971, ALASKA'S NEARLY 52,000 INDIANS, ESKIMOS, AND ALEUTS WERE TO BECOME CUSTODIANS OF 44 MILLION ACRES OF LAND AND EXTINGUISH ALL ABORIGINAL CLAIMS TO THE REST OF THE STATE. A STATE WITH APPROXIMATELY 375 MILLION ACRES ALL TOLLED. BUT THOSE 44 MILLION ACRES, [AND THESE SIMPLE TITLE] ONE-NINTH ALL LANDS IN THE STATE, REPRESENTS MORE LAND THAT IS HELD IN TRUST FOR ALL OTHER AMERICAN INDIANS; AND THE MONETARY COMPENSATION IS NEARLY FOUR TIMES THE TOTAL WON BY INDIANS TRIBES FROM THE INDIAN CLAIMS COMMISSION.

IN THE TEN YEARS SINCE PRESIDENT NIXON SIGNED THE ACT INTO LAW, LESS THAN ONE HALF OF THE LAND GUARANTEED TO VILLAGE AND REGIONAL CORPORATIONS SET UP TO MANAGE THE LAND AND MONEY, HAS BEEN CONVEYED.

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.

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

THE KEY TO THE LAND CLAIMS LEGISLATION WAS LAND. NELSON ANGAPAK IS THE EXECUTIVE VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE CALISTA CORPORATION, SUPERVISING LANDS AND NATURAL RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT. WITH 56 VILAGES IN SOUTHWEST ALASKA, CALISTA HAS MORE THAN ANY OTHER REGIONAL NATIVE CORPORATION; AND ANGAPAK SUPERVISES AN AREA APPROXIMATELY THE SIZE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON...

The land is something that has sustained us. Land was something that...uh...was essential to the survival of our people, [plus the very area] that we breathe for survival. And it was used in that manner. Land is our lifeline. Because without land, we couldn't survive.

WITH ANCSA, THAT LIFELINE BECAME A LEGAL RIGHT. A CHANGE IN EFFECT FROM ABORIGINAL TITLE TO LEGAL TITLE. BUT EXPLAINING THAT CHANGE FROM "LAND USE" TO "LAND OWNERSHIP" WAS NO EASY TASK. NELSON ANGAPAK...

Prior to the passage of the Land Claims Settlement Act, that land has always been considered to be the land that's owned and used by the peo...by all the people in our area. With the passage of the Land Claims Settlement Act, we were now told suddenly that you would have to select and apply for specific [class] of land within those drawn lands that can be formally owned by the village corporations. And it was a concept that was relatively to...relatively hard to convey to our villages, because..uh...for a long...for a long time, the people in our area were primarily land users and used approximately 95% of the delta for subsistence and survival purposes. Now all of a sudden they were told they couldn't own that whole land, but a small portion of that land. It was a very tough battle, uphill battle, to convince them that they had to select that land.

AND ONCE SELECTED, THERE WERE NO GUARANTEES OF RECEIPT. DENNIS TIPPLEMAN OF KOTZEBUE, [WHO'S] THE ALASKA FEDERATION OF NATIVES WASHINGTON, D.C., REPRESENTATIVE...

One of those big problems was that 1959 Statehood Act gave the State of Alaska 100 million acres of land. The the 1971 Act put a stop to the Alaska Statehood Act provisions and, in the end, maybe there was some similar [or] same lands that both corporations wanted. The '71 Act kind of gave preference to the Native corporations and make their selection first. And in the process..uh..created..uh..challenges..uh..lawsuits..um..filing of the same lands. And so it became the..the complex conveyance procedure.

BOB ARNOLD IS THE ASSISTANT STATE DIRECTOR FOR CONVEYANCE MANAGEMENT OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR'S BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT. FOR THE PAST THREE YEARS, HE HAS BEEN OVERSEEING THE CONVEYANCE OF LAND TO NATIVE CORPORATIONS AND TO THE STATE OF ALASKA...

Of the 40 million acres, 22 million acres of surface estate were to go to village corporations. Uh...the 22 million acres of subsurface estate would go to the 12 regional corporations of Alaska. An additional 16 million acres would go to six regional corporations, which claimed large areas of land, but whose population or enrollments to village corporations were low. Another two million acres would go under what we call a miscellaneous grants provision to Native groups, to Native corporations, in Juneau, Kenai, Sitka, and Kodiak; to persons who applied for allotments..uh..before the..uh..Native Allotment Act was revoked by the Claims Act; for cemetery sites and historic places, and for principle places of residence. Any part of that two million acres that did not go for the stated purposes would be distributed on the basis of enrollments to the 12 regional corporations.

And though it doesn't seem like a lot would be left, it's been a very important provision, particularly for Sealaska which had no part of the 16 million acres slated for itself. But another provision of the Act said that village corporations, on [revoked] reserves, could choose to take full title of surface and subsurface, and opt out of the Act as far as the rest of its terms went including the money payment. The..uh..villages of Elim, Savoonga and Gambell on St. Lawrence Island, Venetie and Arctic Village, which make up the Venetie Reservation or Reserve, uh..the people of Tetlin with the Tetlin Reserve. These, plus Klukwan, voted to take the reserve. Together, collectively, the aggregate acreage involved is 3.7 million acres roughly. There was no place within the 40 million that the 3.7 million acres come. As a result, the new total is 43.7 million acres.

There are three..uh..principle streams of activity that..uhh.. must be..uh..accomplished. One is determination of which waterways are navigable before we conveyed [indecipherable]. A second stream of activity is easement identification. This is one of the things that makes the process of conveyance very, very slow, because there are opportunities for public nomination and public comment throughout. Now that third stream of activity is the adjudication task. If the Land Claims Act had passed in 19...in 1868 instead of 1971, adjudication would be easy, because ignoring Indian title, it was all public domain. In the 100 years plus, 104 years, between the purchase of Alaska from Russia and the passage of the Act, however, lots of persons, and organizations, and government entities obtained rights or interests of one kind or another in the land. Homesteads, [T & M] sites, Native allotments, rights of way, government installations, all of these have to be examined and adjudicated so that we can convey only what we own.

So these three streams of activity..uh..put us at the edge of conveyancing. At that point we..uh..prepare and furnish to the village and regional corporation affected [a] draft document, the draft title document. We call it a draft decision. We mail that to the village and offer to explain it and have their comments, whatever they are, before we publish. Because once we publish the decision, the only recourse for the corporation is to appeal that to the Alaska [Native] Claims Appeals Board. This takes time and money, and it really takes a lot of time.

OF COURSE CHARGES HAVE BEEN LEVIED THAT IT'S BLM THAT TAKES LOTS OF TIME. SO MUCH TIME THAT ARNOLD PREDICTS THAT ALL THE LAND WON'T BE CONVEYED FOR QUITE A WHILE. HIS TARGET IS TO CONVEY 86% OF THE LAND BY 1986.

[Arnold] I wonder why they use the [words "immediately convey"] if they knew anything about title transfer.

Ø In the quiet, silent morning
On the first great white dawn
When the people walked on the frozen field
To a land of endless living, walk with meØ

"What happens when the public has been using land that now belongs to a Native corporation?" That question has been posed in Juneau, in a conference between Goldbelt, a Juneau-based urban Native corporation on one side, and the Bureau of Land Management on the other. Part of Goldbelt's land entitlement, under the Native Claims Settlement Act, is roughly 3,000 acres around Echo Cove, a sheltered inlet about 40 miles north of Juneau, at the far end of the dead end highway. Echo Cove is a popular spot for fisherman and boaters, and it provides safe access to Berner's Bay just north of Echo Cove. The BLM [has set] an easement to assure continued public access to Echo Cove, across Goldbelt land. That easement is a typical move by the BLM, and their duty to guarantee access to public land. Echo Cove itself remains in the public domain.

The Goldbelt objects to that easement, on grounds through the proposed boat launch facility, envisioned by the borough and the forest service, would be incapable with Goldbelt's own super plans for residential development there. Goldbelt took its challenge to the easement to the Alaska Native Claims Appeals Board, which referred it to a hearing before a federal administrative law judge in early November.

JUDY BRADY IS THE ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE AT THE ALASKA NATIVE CLAIMS APPEAL BOARD...

The kinds of cases we have dealt with are exactly the kinds of cases that the leadership of the Native regions and the State anticipated way back in 1971. They have to do with navigability of water ways, they have to do with easements, they have to do with the whole category of interest called "valid existing rights". The Settlement Act started fencing off some land. And everybody started jumping up and down saying, "Hey, wait a minute, that's my land." And when people say, "Hey, wait a minute, that's my land," they come to us.

THE ALASKA NATIVE CLAIMS APPEAL BOARD, ANCAB, HAS HEARD AROUND 700 APPEALS IN ITS SEVEN YEARS OF EXISTENCE, A RELATIVELY SMALL NUMBER GIVEN THE QUANTITY OF LAND INVOLVED. THE APPEALS HAVE COME FROM MIXED, VARIOUS SOURCES; INDIVIDUALS, MUNICIPALITIES, AND ESPECIALLY CORPORATIONS AND THE STATE. WITH THE PASSAGE OF THE ALASKA NATIONAL INTEREST LANDS CONSERVATION ACT, ALSO CALLED ANILCA, THE ALASKA LANDS BILL AND D2, THERE SHOULD BE FEWER CASES FOR THE APPEALS BOARD. ANILCA IS THE SECOND SET OF AMENDMENTS TO THE ACT, THE FIRST OCCURING IN 1976. ANILCA PASSED IN DECEMBER 1980 WITH A MORE THAN 150-PAGE DOCUMENT, WITH 49 AMENDMENTS TO THE CLAIMS SETTLEMENT. AND THOSE AMENDMENTS, DESIGNED TO STRENGTHEN AND CLARIFY THE ACT, ARE COLLECTIVELY ABOUT TWICE AS LONG AS THE ENTIRE ACT ITSELF.

SENATOR TED STEVENS, ONE OF THE PRIME MOVERS FOR THE CLAIMS SETTLEMENT, IS ALSO INSTRUMENTAL IN MOVING THE D2 BILL...

There were just changed circumstances in the...in the Alaska Lands Act Amendment for the Native Land Claims Settlement Act. Uh...really took into account..uh..the passage of time and..and the impediments that have been..uh..discovered..uh..through that period of time to..uh..carry out the original settlement.

UNLIKE STOCK IN NATIVE CORPORATIONS, WHICH CANNOT BE SOLD UNTIL 1991, LAND ONCE IT HAS BEEN CONVEYED CAN BE SOLD, LEASED, OR TRANSFERRED TO PEOPLE WITHIN THE CORPORATION OR TO OUTSIDERS. THERE ARE NO RESTRICTIONS AS THERE ARE, AT LEAST TO SOME EXTENT, ON STOCK.

EMIL NOTTI, THE FIRST PERSON TO SERVE AS PRESIDENT OF THE ALASKA FEDERATION OF NATIVES AND NOW PRESIDENT EMERITUS, HOPES THAT PEOPLE WILL HANG ON TO THE LAND...

In the long run, the future of the people is tied to the land, ownership of the land.

YOU'VE BEEN LISTENING TO THE CORPORATE WHALE: ANCSA, THE FIRST 10 YEARS. THE FOURTH 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 TIM FRACUS, PATTI HINDSBERG, AND MUSICIANS HERBIE VENT, BUDDY TABOR, AND THE BETHEL DANCERS.

 

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.

 

 

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 August 14, 2006