Unit 3: Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA)

Lesson 1: Alaska Native Land Claims Movement

Objective 1: Students know the history leading up to the passage of ANCSA, including Alaska’s statehood and impending land selections by the State of Alaska, the movement by Alaska Natives to assert their rights to the land, the discovery of oil on the North Slope, and the land freeze.

Objective 2: Students understand the circumstances surrounding the creation of the Alaska Federation of Natives and its role in the Alaska Native land claims movement.

Objective 3: Students are familiar with major leaders involved in the Alaska Native land claims movement and the roles they played in this effort.

Objective 4: Students understand the nature of ANCSA as a settlement of the claims of Alaska Natives as having inherent rights to the land, not a grant of land and money to Alaska Natives by the federal government. Students understand that this settlement took the form of Alaska Natives retaining 44 million acres of land, and relinquishing their claim to the rest of the state in exchange for $962.5 million.

Lesson Ideas

  • Assigned Reading: Have students read throughout the course of several weeks one or more of the following books: “Growing Up Native in Alaska” by Alexandra McClanahan, “Fifty Miles from Tomorrow” by William Hensley, or “Etok: A Story of Eskimo Power” by Hugh Gregory Gallagher. Have students maintain a reading journal for the books with short ½ page entries for each chapter to record their reflections or new information discovered.
  • Online Lesson: Have students visit the UAF Tribal Management Program’s webpage on the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) 1971 and read the information presented. https://tm112.community.uaf.edu/unit-3/alaska-native-claims-settlement-act-ancsa-1971/. Have a class discussion to bring together the history/information from both the online lesson and the students have read about the time leading up to ANCSA and its passage.
  • ANCSA- A Native’s Perspective: Use the lesson plan developed by Emily Ann Leon accessible at the following webpage: http://www.k12northstar.org/cms/lib010/AK01901510/Centricity/Domain/1094//Tanana%20Chiefs%20Day/ancsaanativesperspectivelessonplanshs.pdf

Lesson 2: Alaska Native Corporations

Objective 1: Students know that 12 regional corporations and over 200 village corporations were created by ANCSA to hold fee simple title to the selected Native land. Students know that a 13th regional corporation was also created but did not receive land in the settlement. Students know the names/geographic areas/cultural distinctions of the 12 land-owning regional corporations.

Objective 2: Students understand that ANCSA revoked all reservations in Alaska except the Metlakatla Reservation on Annette Island. Students understand the significance of the fact that land was not placed in the ownership of tribes through ANCSA, leaving tribes without a land base.

Objective 3: Students understand the nature of Alaska Native corporations as profit-making entities and understand how this structure of indigenous land retention was unprecedented and remains unique throughout the United States and the world. Students understand that ANCSA corporations have certain roles/responsibilities that normal profit-making corporations do not, such as the maintenance of cultural sites, due to their nature as indigenous entities.

Lesson Ideas

  • Explore the Law: Go over the components of ANCSA listed in the above objectives in class with a map of Alaska depicting the ANCSA regional corporation membership base geographically and corporation-owned land as a visual aid.
  • ANCSA Regional Corporation Profiles: Depending on the class size, assign each student or group a regional corporation to research and prepare a Power Point presentation on. Students can share information on the culture groups included, the size of the corporation, its business ventures, its history, programs, and geographical area/land ownership.
  • Essay on Ties to the Land: Have students write a short essay on how they view their relationship to the land and values regarding the land in terms of their culture, identity, spirituality, wellbeing, sustenance, and other factors that they feel are important.
  • Class Discussion: After students have completed their essays on ties to the land, have a discussion with the students about how the ideas they expressed in their essays align or conflict with ANCSA. Discuss factors such as the profit-driven nature of ANCSA corporations, which often involves natural resource extraction, and the idea of “ownership” of the land.
  • Class Discussion: Have a discussion with the students about the significance of ANCSA land being held by corporations instead of tribes. Have students identify the pros and cons of this outcome.

Lesson 3: Shareholders

Objective 1: Students understand that Alaska Natives born on or before the day of the passage of ANCSA, December 18, 1971, received 100 shares in their village and regional corporations. Students understand what being a shareholder means and that under ANCSA the ownership of shares represent ties to the corporation-owned Native land, as well as the concept of dividends.

Objective 2: Students understand that only Native shareholders can vote in ANCSA corporation board elections and that each share counts as one vote. Students understand the process of proxy voting and are familiar with their regional corporation board members and know who their village corporation board members are. Students understand what serving on an ANCSA corporation board involves.

Objective 3: Students understand the process of gifting/inheriting shares and understand that corporations can vote to open enrollment to “new Natives.” Students understand the concept of life estate stock. Students know which corporations have opened enrollment to “new Natives.”

Lesson Ideas

  • Explore the Law: Go over the components of ANCSA listed in the above objectives in class and have students ask any questions they may have to ensure they understand the ideas and processes being presented.
  • Being a Shareholder in My Corporation: Have students research what the requirements are for becoming a shareholder in their respective regional and village corporations (if they are not shareholders, use the corporations their parents or grandparents are members of), learn who the board members for both their regional and village corporations are, and what the benefits are of being a shareholder or descendent of these corporations. For students who may not be associated with ANCSA corporations, have them choose a regional and village corporation to research. Have students record the basics components of this information on a note card that can serve as their shareholder/descendent information card.
  • Attend a Corporation Meeting: With permission from the corporation board, have students attend and observe a meeting of a local village or regional corporation board, then write down and/or discuss their thoughts and observations about the meeting, its process, and the issues discussed.
  • Presentation from Corporation Leader: Ask a leader or staff member from a local village or regional corporation (president, board member, etc.) to visit the class and present on his/her work/role in the corporation, and provide an overview of what the duties of the corporation are and some of its economic pursuits.
  • Opinion Piece: Have each student write an opinion piece/letter explaining why they do or do not feel that ANCSA corporations should open enrollment to “new Natives.”

Lesson 4: ANCSA Land/Profit Sharing

Objective 1: Students understand the concept of fee simple title and that as private land, ANCSA land falls under the jurisdiction of the State of Alaska.

Objective 2: Students understand that regional corporations hold the subsurface estate to all corporation land, including the subsurface estate under village corporation land. Students understand what this means in terms of resource extraction and know how regional corporations have utilized subsurface estate for oil drilling and mining.

Objective 3: Students understand the requirements of Sections 7(i) and 7(j) of ANCSA, which involve the sharing of 70 percent of the profits from natural resource revenues among the regional corporations and the distribution of a portion of these funds among village corporations and shareholders.

Lesson Ideas

  • Explore the Law: Go over the components of ANCSA listed in the above objectives in class and have students ask any questions they may have to ensure they understand the ideas and processes being presented.
  • My Corporations and Their Land: Have students research how surface and subsurface estate is distributed between their village and regional corporations. Have students identify any resource extraction that either corporation may be conducting to generate revenue and explain how they feel about this activity. For students who may not be associated with ANCSA corporations, have them choose a village and regional corporation to research for this assignment.
  • Assigned Reading: Have students read the following excerpt by Phyllis Fast: “A Legacy of Sharing” from Alexandra J. McClanahan’s book Alaska Native Corporations: Sakuuktugut. Have a class discussion about the ideas brought forward in the excerpt regarding sharing as a value for Alaska Native people translated into the context of ANCSA corporations, and some of the controversy surrounding the 7(i) and 7(j) requirements.

Lesson 5: What do ANCSA corporations look like today?

Objective 1: Students understand the important role that ANCSA corporations play in the Alaskan economy today and are aware of some subsidiaries/companies ANCSA corporations operate.

Objective 2: Students are aware of the role that their village and regional corporations play in their everyday lives and in their communities.

Objective 3: Students are aware of some of the ways that ANCSA corporations have explored businesses other than resource extraction and are aware of some village corporations that have experienced extraordinary growth and success.

Lesson Ideas

  • Alaska Business Monthly Top 49ers: Provide students with copies of the most current Alaska Business Monthly Top 49ers issue. Have students read the profiles of ANCSA corporations listed in the magazine and note such factors as how many of the top 49 are ANCSA corporations, how many of those are village corporations, how many people the corporations employ in Alaska, how many of those are Alaska Native and/or shareholders, and the types of operations the corporations are running to generate revenue. Have a class discussion about the corporate success of many ANCSA corporations, including ideas students have about what contributes to this success, something new that students learned about ANCSA corporations from the magazine.
  • Revenue Variety: Have students come up with a list (does not need to be comprehensive) of business ventures that ANCSA corporations have been successful with that do not have to do with resource extraction.  Have students also brainstorm ways that ANCSA corporations can do more to create economic development in their community and statewide through new business opportunities.
  • What Is My Corporation Doing?: Have students explore the roles that their village and/or regional corporations play in their lives. From their perspective, have students describe what they feel their village and/or regional corporation is doing well and what it can/should do better or differently. This can be written as an essay or given as a presentation in class.  For students who many not be associated with an ANCSA corporation, they can choose a village and/or regional corporation and write/present from the perspective of a shareholder or descendent.
  • ANCSA at 40: Have students watch some or all of the ANCSA at 40 videos available at https://vimeo.com/album/1658218.