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Category: History

Native corporations as tool of national policy

n. Ch. Taksami


Work is presented by department of ethnocultural science

Article is devoted to consideration, perhaps, of the fundamental political moment in relationship U.S. authorities with the native population of Alaska - to creation, functioning and value of native corporations of the state. The unique political institute not only allows aboriginals to govern the land relations with the federal authority, but also is the powerful instrument of maintaining fragile disappearing native cultures.

N. Taksami


The article is devoted to the study of one of the cornerstone moments in the domestic policy of Alaska State, which covers foundation, functioning and importance of the Alaska State Aboriginal Corporations. It is a unique political institution. It helps to coordinate territorial discussions between the aboriginal population and the Federal power. Moreover, it is a strong instrument in the process of preservation of traditional cultures.

As characteristic feature of the situation which developed in the modern world it is necessary to recognize political affairs of relationship of the state mother country and the indigenous people inhabiting it and also problems of self-determination and self-government of indigenous people of any given country, any given region. They are closely connected not only with many factors of internal life of the country, but also have a great influence on an international situation, relationship between the states and also on formation of political authorities and international organizations. From here the relevance of a problem which is a study subject first of all of historians, ethnographers, and culturologists follows.

Experience of many states shows that attempts to declare one-nationality of the state or violent imposing of official policy of the state to the native population result in need to untangle a ball of the arisen contradictions - economic, political, social and legal sooner or later.

The issue of relationship between the native population of any single region and the federal government is the most important and the most painful for aboriginals of the majority of the countries of the world. Forms of permission and existence of these relations vary from the region to the region. So, for example, in the countries of Scandinavia at the end of the last century the most essential for aboriginals of the region - Sami

there was a question of recognition of their language one of state languages. What, in turn, grants the right to aboriginals on the quota in Parliaments and also emphasizes the special status of inhabitants.

In this plan in world history a specific place is held by experience of a shtabaalyaska: creation of native corporations in response to the land claims which are put forward by natives.

The main feature characterizing position of indigenous people of Alaska and distinguishing it from the rest of the native population of America is the lack of reservations. It, undoubtedly, influenced formation of modern political culture of natives. Other feature is directly connected with creation of the Constitution of the state. Its division into territorial units and formation of districts was the most acute and debatable internal political issue of Alaska for two decades from the moment of adoption of statehood by it. Such administrative and political division of the state is uncharacteristic for the United States, but it completely corresponds to an environment of Alaska and features of her economic, political and social life. In our opinion, obtaining statehood by it became a turning point in the contemporary history of Alaska.

Political and social relationship between the state and indigenous people of Alaska for many decades constantly changed. Historically they were characterized as one of types of "guardianship and protection". Because guardianship is understood as the unequal political relations between native tribes and the federal government, on the one hand, these relations obviously mean a federal debt of protection, with another - these relations are a source of the full federal authority over native Americans.

One of strengths of the abstract relations consists that they allow to have legislative and performing freedom of action in definition main

the directions of policy and providing development programs of native Americans and extraction of advantage from them. Because these relations have unique in own way political basis, such programs and benefit which they bring do not serve racial discrimination even if are favorable to members of a certain racial group. Generally, such relations were applied to Alaska as a source of the federal authority to providing programs and service of the population, protection of the lands belonging to aboriginals, protection of their children, recognitions of the sovereignty of natives and upholding of advantages of the contracts signed with them.

In general the federal policy of rather land reservations - the fundamental and most sensitive standing issue in the relations between native inhabitants and the U.S. Government - from 1891 to 1971 can be divided into 8 periods:

1) 1891-1919 - creation of the land Metlakatla reservation and executive Indian reservations;
2) 1920-1933 - creation of the reservations directed to the public purposes;
3) 1936-1940 - introduction on Alaska of the Law on reorganization of Indians and carrying out policy of small reservations;
4) 1940-1943 - the statement of policy of big reservations, withdrawal of lands Ve-neti and Karduk;
5) 1944-1949 - maintaining a number of lawsuits on the land questions of rather native status of these territories;
6) 1949-1952 - suspension of policy of foundation of reservations;
7) 1952-1960 - end of this policy;
8) 1960-1971 - imposition of restrictions of rights of indigenous peoples in territories of land reserves and adoption of law on the satisfaction of land claims of indigenous people of Alaska.

Within the 20th century, especially in its second half, the United States Congress developed a number of the laws defining vzaimo-

relations between the federal authority and native population. Many of the adopted laws had as the general, and the special attitude towards aboriginals of Alaska.

Discovery of oil and gas in Prado-Bey in 1968 became the most important push for carrying out the legislation in land claims in life. Confirmation of existence of huge volumes of these rare natural resources and also impossibility for the oil companies to continue work on their development and expectation of the federal permission for construction of the pipeline for pumping of oil on the market could not find the permission until consideration of land claims and created the platform for native leaders in their fight. At the same time the government of the state on whose earth, oil was found, was ready to take this step as it expected big profits in the form of taxes and percentage allocations from sale and oil refining. The federal government could also resolve this problem, having taken the credit for the most generous settlement in native claims.

The president Richard Nixon signed the Act

about the satisfaction of land claims of aboriginals of Alaska in the form of the law of December 18, 1971, ratifying thus a temporary compromise of the counteracting interests. In this work we cite the text of the Law on the satisfaction of land claims of aboriginals of Alaska. In Russian it becomes for the first time.

Claim the act was the only most important incentive for the organization of governmental and quasigovernmental bodies in rural Alaska. "Considering value for future this state the adoption of law can be compared to such events as providing the status of the state to Alaska in 1959 and opening of the large-scale deposit of oil in Prado-Bey in 1968. After the government stayed idle during the whole century, both of these events to a great extent promoted adoption of the specified law" [2, page 51].

The law on the satisfaction of land claims is the difficult document, vklyu-

hoping in himself regulation of various aspects of relationship of the federal government and the native population by means of native corporations. Native corporations are listed in the Law, have various status (native, city, rural) and different structure. Adoption of this document in 1971 caused then causes much controversy to this day.

Assessment of this phenomenon cannot be unambiguous, however aboriginals of Alaska, addressing the ethnic history, divide the life and life of the people on "to" and "later". Noting that their life and the rights "to" difficult now to assess positively. Within more than three decades the scientists studying the history of Alaska, and aboriginals wrote hundreds of works in which the value of creation of native corporations for inhabitants of the region is analyzed.

By the time of adoption of law on December 18, 1971 on Alaska 80,000 people of the native population lived, each of which took part in adoption of law. Most of the population, those whose destinies the Law affected directly, were in the territory of Alaska. But besides, about 20,000 lived in so-called "lower 48" states. It is also about those natives who were adopted by one or two adoptive parents, excellent by origin. To a certain date in the calendar all to one native inhabitants of Alaska automatically became recipients of a share in again formed corporations. Additions were accepted later, allowing native corporations to write down in shareholders of those who were born after December 18, 1971

The structure of the Law on the satisfaction of land requirements based on formation of corporations was in every respect a starting point in activity of the United States Congress. From now on corporations, but not reservations became responsible for the satisfaction of land requirements of ordinary citizens.

Thirteen native corporations, including 12 in the territory of Alaska and

one more corporation outside its territory, acquired full legitimate authority of distribution of compensations for use of native lands. All to one native inhabitants became recipients of 100 shares of fixed capital.

The sizes of native corporations varied from such as, for example, Atna Inkorporeyted corporation with number shareholders about 1,000, to corporation of Sialyask with number of shareholders about 16,000. According to the Law on land claims about 220 rural corporations were created. To each village the choice in quality or the profitable, or gainless organization was allowed to act. All villages chose the status of profitable. The reason was it is simple. The law of the state forbade the gainless organizations to pay money to her members. Thus, all rural corporations had an opportunity to pay dividends to the shareholders.

The size of rural corporations varied from 25 people till 2000. The largest rural corporations with number of shareholders more than 2000 people were Barrow, Nome, Betel and Kottsebu.

Analyzing consequences of adoption of law on creation of native corporations, it is necessary to remember that the Law in response to the existing real requirements of indigenous people of Alaska was created. And communication of these inhabitants with the earth "is spiritual so that it gives rise to difficult schemes of regulation of the land relations" [4, page 18].

To twelve regions of the State of Alaska there correspond 12 native corporations of the state. Among them: Atna Inkorporeyted, Aleutian corporation, regional corporation Arktik Sloup, native corporation Bering of Streyt, native Bristol Bey corporation, Kalista corporation, Alaskan corporation Chugach, CIRI (corporation of the region of Cook Inlet), Doyon Limited, Dray-horses Inkorporeyted, regional corporation NANA, corporation of Sialyask [4, page 31-59]. Besides, the thirteenth regional corporation is corporations with the headquarters in Seattle - at the time of adoption of law on the satisfaction of land claims it was the prices -

try for the aboriginals of Alaska living beyond its limits.

According to the additions to the Law accepted in 1976 to the registered rural corporations it was authorized to merge with other selky corporations or with their regional corporations. Some corporations seized this opportunity. For example, all villages in the region Atna merged with Atna (except the village of Chitina), all villages in the region of NANA (except Kottsebu) merged with NANA, the Karluk corporation merged with Koniag.

At least two villages (Veneti and Arktik Viledge) transferred the assets to the rural breeding government.

The structure of formation of corporations and functioning of their system in general became a subject of heated disputes for many years. One of the strongest definitions of this debate belongs to Senator Henry Jackson who was at the time of adoption of law on the satisfaction of claims with the Chairman of the Committee Vnutrennya and Foreign policy. A statement it concerns that tension which existed between a concept "corporation" in his western understanding and cultural needs of natives of Alaska.

"I observe this debate within the last thirteen years. It is a debate on which there are no final answers. Once I thought that social welfare with attempt of increase in profitability of traditional corporations was a serious mistake. Today I have to recognize that I changed the opinion. Regional corporations are absolutely unique. Their value cannot be measured just by the amount of income and net average profit. It is possible to judge their effectiveness only on the basis of complete idea of achievement of the goals of holders of shares" [4, page 21].

According to the Law on the satisfaction of land claims 962 million US dollars were mastered, this sum was presented on the basis of a house-to-house survey of indigenous people. Participated in a census both the State of Alaska and Federal pravi-

a telstvo, it lasted 11 years. During this time because of inflation the size of shares partly depreciated. In the first five years of 10% of all money were distributed between all holders of a share. Regions kept 45% for preservation and the remained 45% were distributed between villages "in general" between holders of shares on the basis of a house-to-house survey (holders of shares "in general" were meant as those who were included only in regional lists, but not rural) [4, by page 21].

For the first 5 years the money was distributed 50 on 50: a half is given on preservation to regional corporations, a half is distributed between rural corporations and holders of shares "in general" on the basis of a house-to-house survey.

According to the 7th section of the Law, Paragraph I regional corporations have to divide 70% of the resource income from the lands included in the Law on the satisfaction of claims between corporations. According to the section

7 (]) a half of the money received by each region on Paragraph 7 (1) shares between own villages and holders of shares "in general" on the basis of a house-to-house survey.

The condition of such division is extremely unusual aspect of the Law. And within 10 years of corporation tried to develop the agreement in which all conditions of payments were accurately discussed. The purpose of the concept was clear - to develop the mechanism on which the corporations rich resource, would share with the corporations poorer because of the unprofitable geographical location. Involvement in the procedure of discussion of lawyers and accountants almost destroyed a unification of native groups. Balance came only after intervention of the native government.

One of the first who lobbied the Law Byron Maylot so estimated this process: "Section 7 1 was simple to be introduced in the Law as any of us was not a businessman. But ask what would occur on the air fleet if airlines would have to 70% of the profit give others, share with them if the government believes in equivalence of all transportations?

If we understood in business or had business experience, especially in its financial aspect, any of us could just set the task for us: In the Law it is necessary to give definition to the concept "income". At public hearings it seemed simple and correct, but in practice it was difficult" [4, page 22].

The lands transferred according to the Law made 44 million acres that made a little more than 10% of all territory of the state. Sounds as the huge territory, especially in comparison with those agreements which were earlier signed by the United States with the American Indians. If to consider it on the other hand, from the point of view of the people who made demands to the state, compensation received under the Law on the satisfaction of claims is small.

From 44 million acres 22 million acres of the Earth's surface were taken by rural corporations on the basis of a formula on population. This earth generally concentrated around villages and consisted of the areas necessary for getting of a subsistence. The underground part of the earth was taken as property by regional corporations. 16 million acres of the earth (including its surface and an underground part) were taken by regional corporations. Two million acres are kept for use in special cases, for example, under cemeteries, places of historical monuments and villages numbering less than 25 people. 4 million more acres departed under last land reservations when villages preferred to take the earth instead of the earth and payments. These previous land reservations were "the granted land rights" which size was from 700,000 to 2 million acres. These lands included: part of the island of Saint-Laurens, settlements of Elim, Tetlin, Veneti and Arktik Vee-ledge. The settlement of Klukvan initially declared the desire to seize this opportunity, but later leaders of the settlement changed the decision.

The reserve Metalkatla (island of Annet) was approved by the law of the Congress in 1891

At the beginning of April, 1916 corporation of California Alaska Pasifik Fisheriz began to install fishing tackles on the coast of the reservation. At the end of April of the same year before construction was complete, the president Woodrow Wilson published the leaflet protecting the coast of the reservation on 3 thousand feet from the coast in favor of inhabitants of Metlakatl and other native inhabitants of Alaska who joined them or can join, having become inhabitants of these islands [3, page 83]. The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against intervention Alaska Pasifik Fisheriz.

the Law on the satisfaction of land claims did not affect life and structure of the settlement of Metlakatla on the island of Annet in Southeast Alaska which was founded in 1891 Metlakatla was the reservation before adoption of law and remained such is and later.

Efforts of all native leaders were directed to preservation and receiving the earth. The vice president of Council of shareholders and Communications of corporation of native corporation Bristol-Bey Trefon Angasan told about it: "When the concept of fight of the native population for the earth was almost ready, we only meant that it is our earth. Because nobody and ever argued with it. We looked at open spaces and understood that it is the native earth. It is our earth. It always was here, and the feeling of property to it always was in us. And suddenly, it occurred in the late sixties, around our earth began to put borders, and we suddenly understood that the world changes" [4, page 23].

Though new regional corporations had similarity to old native associations, the purposes of these economic associations were different. Corporations were more concerned about obtaining the status for their lands and extraction of benefit

for their shareholders, and it was hard to achieve this objective.

Transfer of lands to corporations was slowed down by long process of identification of the lands which are of the greatest value for native areas [5, page 1], and execution of all technical requirements on transfer of federal property. For simplification of process of future choice of the earth the native corporations included in the applications "justification of importance of any given ground" in which history of each of sites, their location and importance was briefly described. Requests for grounds were sent to Bureau of management of land resources where real estate specialists defined whether these sites answer a minimum of necessary requirements. The bureau for Indians was imputed a duty to be responsible for control over land documentation. Anthropologists of the Union of cooperative park researches together with service of national parks together with Bureau for Indians since 1978 also worked, carrying out expertize of cultural, historical and archaeological importance of the land plots according to documentation. The decision on whether the specified lands conform to necessary requirements for their transfer to native use, was accepted by Bureau for Indians. The final decision on transfer of the earth to native corporations was carried out by Bureau of management of land resources [5, page 1].

Today native corporations are the powerful force supporting existence of aboriginals of Alaska. This means, not only the survival providing them but also supporting keeping and reviving their unique culture which absorbed in itself elements not only the traditional culture of natives of Alaska, but also Orthodoxy.


1. N.Ch. dachshunds. Indigenous people of Alaska on the eve of the third millennium. SPb., 2002.
2. Phisher V. Economic revival of natives of Alaska//Pacific scientific congress. XVI. Social and humanities. M, 1979. T. 2.
3. CaseD. S. Alaska Natives and American Laws. University of Alaska Press, Fairbanks, 1984. 586 p.
4. McClanahan A. J., Bisset H. L. Naeda. Our friends. A guide to Alaska Native Corporations, tribes, cultures, ANCSA and more.
5. Sheppard W. L. Continuity and change in Norton Sound: Historic sites and their contexts/Anthropology and Historic Preservation Cooperative Park Studies Unit; Univ. of Alaska//Occasional Paper. Fairbanks, 1983.
James Wade
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