The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) was passed in 1971 to extinguish aboriginal rights of Alaska Natives and provide compensation for those rights extinguished. Instead of vesting assets (land and money) in tribal governments, Congress required the formation of Alaska Native corporations to receive and hold these assets. A major flaw in the settlement was the failure to provide statutory protections for the aboriginal hunting, fishing, and gathering rights extinguished by ANCSA. Moreover, while ANCSA did not directly address Alaska Native tribal status or jurisdiction, the Supreme Court interpreted the Act to terminate the Indian country status of ANCSA land. Subsequently, Title VIII of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) was adopted in 1980 to provide a subsistence priority for rural Alaska residents, but the approach contemplated in Title VIII failed due to the State of Alaska’s unwillingness to participate. On the self-government front, state and federal courts have joined the federal Executive Branch and Congress in recognizing that Alaska Native tribes have the same legal status as other federally recognized tribes in the lower forty-eight states. The Obama Administration recently changed its regulations to allow land to be taken in trust for Alaska Native tribes, and thus be considered Indian country subject to tribal jurisdiction, and generally precluding most state authority. This article explains these developments and offers suggestions for a legal and policy path forward.
ANCSA Section 7(I): $40 Million Per Word and Counting
Aaron M. Schutt
This paper analyzes the degree to which the administration of Title VIII of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) of 1980 protects customary and traditional hunting and fishing by Alaska Natives and their tribal communities. A recent Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) entered into by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Kuskokwim Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (KRITFC) for co-management of subsistence fisheries will be used as a means to analyze the issue. This paper concludes with suggestions for improving the administration of Title VIII to better secure Alaska Native and Tribal rights for self-determination.
In the forty-five years since the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) created the Alaska Native regional corporation and village corporations, shareholders and outside observers have criticized the statute’s use of the traditional corporate form as inappropriate for Alaska Native communities. The emergence of the benefit corporation entity across the United States may soon mean that Native corporations have a promising alternative. If Alaska joins the majority of states that have adopted this new legal entity, Native corporations would have an opportunity to significantly reform their corporate governance within the existing framework of ANCSA. This Note will argue that Alaska should enact a benefit corporation statute because it would give Native corporations a legal entity that better fits their purpose. As benefit corporations, Native corporations would commit to pursuing public benefits, and their directors would be required to consider factors beyond shareholder value in making decisions.
A Business Entity By Any Other Name: Corporation, Community and Kinship
Christian G. Vazquez
Forty-five years ago, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act resolved outstanding land claims between the federal and state government and Alaska Natives. The fund created by the settlement was used as seed money to establish the Alaska Native Corporations. The Native corporations have particular features which make them distinct from other business entities, these differences have been lauded by some shareholders but have simultaneously drawn ire from others. In 2015 the Alaska legislature introduced H.B. 49, a benefit corporation bill that would allow entrepreneurs to pursue both profits and social ends. This note traces the rise of the modern Alaska Native Corporation. It then weighs the merits of each business entity and assesses which is best aligned to improve the lives of Alaska Natives.