In what's been called the largest peaceful redistribution of wealth in the history of mankind, title to 44 million acres and almost a billion dollars were conveyed to Native for-profit corporations following the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971.
Some 51 years later, many wonder, “What was the intent in creating the corporations? Are they living up to the vision of those who lobbied for ANCSA?”
Now there’s a guide to help find answers. The Alaska Historical Society has published the first-ever comprehensive guide to ANCSA resources.
The guide describes the vast majority of documents about ANCSA: papers and books in archives, libraries, personal collections and on-line across the country.
(Related: ICT's series: The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act at 50)
The society spent more than two years identifying documents about the act, outlining their location and explaining how to access them. In a prepared statement, the historical society said, “The project unearthed numerous fascinating ‘gems’ leading to passage of the act, such as:
- A 20-page report about the first statewide meeting of Alaska Native leaders in Anchorage in 1966 that laid the groundwork for establishment of the Alaska Federation of Natives.
- A 1970 speech by President Nixon on Indian policy in which he called for a new approach to the federal treatment of Native people, a historic change from termination to self-determination.
- A speech by Dr. Henry Forbes, whose financial backing helped establish the Tundra Times and who worked with Howard Rock, the newspaper’s founder and editor.”
Tlingit elder and land claims activist Irene Rowan calls the guide a valuable resource for understanding a major turning point in Alaska history. She served in Washington, D.C. in the 1970s as special assistant for Alaska programs to the Department of Interior’s assistant secretary for Indian Affairs.
“This tool is important to those wishing to learn who was involved - why, how and who benefited. The guide will be useful in so many ways for so many people for many years to come. I commend and thank the Alaska Historical Society for taking on this mammoth and important project," Rowan said.
The three volumes each address different resources. Volume one is about specific historic documents. Volume two is an annotated bibliography of published and unpublished materials such as books, articles, and films. Volume three is designed to help educators teach classes on ANCSA.
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