Beginning in the early 1960’s throughout Alaska, Native groups were getting organized and filing protests to State land selections. The focus of all this organization was not simply land claims, but on the economic, educational and basic welfare of the people. Living in rural Alaska meant high prices and few jobs. Hunting and fishing regulations were encroaching on traditional hunting and fishing habits, making times hard. As time marched on, non-Native interests were getting anxious to put in the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, and the disposition of the land the pipeline would cross became a major catalyst in settling Native land claims.

The United States Congress passed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 USC 1601-1624) — Public Law 92-203 (known as ANCSA) on December 18, 1971, officially extinguishing aboriginal claims on public lands in the State of Alaska and giving birth to a new breed of business: the Alaska Native corporation. The Act conveyed 44 million acres of land to the Alaska Native people and paid a cash settlement of nearly $1 billion. The catch? Both the land conveyances and the cash payments were made to infant profit corporations formed in compliance with ANCSA to manage its proceeds.

ANCSA incorporated a body of village and regional Native corporations to manage the lands and money, and made comprehensive conditions concerning the administration of the corporations. ANCSA stock cannot be sold, or otherwise alienated. A person can only receive stock through inheritance or a “gifting” instrument executed by specific lineal relatives. The intent was to keep the corporate assets under Native control. There are thirteen regional corporations, and Section 1610 of ANCSA listed 204 villages that qualified for incorporation under the Act. The Law conveyed acreage of surface estate to the village corporations, and the subsurface to the villages’ corresponding regional corporations. OC was formed pursuant to ANCSA in 1973. An excellent ANCSA resource site is offered by the Anchorage law firm, Landye Bennett & Blumstein LLP. Visit it by clicking the button to the left.