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Category: History

To a question of historical destinies and land rights of the native people of Alaska.

n. Ch. Taksami


Acceptance in 1971. The law on the satisfaction of land claims of indigenous people of Alaska (ANCSA) was a turning point in the history of the state and the first similar precedent in the history of the USA \. Line of historical development of the region, distinctive from other states, already was the lack of reservations for the native population. Adoption of law fixed equal relationship between indigenous people and the state. It was that step since which formation of both a management system of the state, and the policy of the federal authorities in relation to the state, and development of municipalities of domicile went on a new way: taking into account the interests of the native population living in this territory.

N. Taksami


Adoption of the Alaska Native land Claims Settlement Act (1971) became a turning point in the Alaska state history and the first case in American history. By that time the absence of Indian reservations had already been a specific feature of Alaska’s historical development. The Settlement Act had confirmed equal rights of both native population and the state. It had become the moment since which the formation of the Alaska state administrative system, federal policy and local governments depended on aboriginal interests.

The Law on the satisfaction of land claims of indigenous people of Alaska (AM8CA) adopted in 1971 in the USA in the State of Alaska and till today remains a sample for other countries in questions of regulation of relationship between the government (both federal, and local) and the native population which is traditionally living in this territory. References to this Law and citing it meet in researches and projects of regulation of the land questions and questions of the rights to use natural resources first of all in the countries of the Arctic and Asia-Pacific regions: Canada, Greenland, Japan, countries of Scandinavia and Russia.

Except the territory, considerable in size, remoteness from the central states (called "lower 48") and features of ethnic cultures of the people inhabiting Alaska from time immemorial, there are a lot more lines distinguishing it from the main part of the United States. It and natural and geographical factors — severe climate, landscapes, soils, vegetation, the wild nature, both its economy, and policy. In modern structure of the state there are many lines, inherent only in this region (local authorities in urban and rural areas in many respects differ from similar in it bodies in other parts of the USA), the main thing is presence of the native population playing a part in process for-

a mirovaniye of statehood and advocating the political, economic and cultural interests to this day — at the beginning of the 21st century

In 1934 the government of the United States adopted the Law on reorganization of Indians (IRA). It was one of the most important documents in the Indian legislation from all ever developed by the Congress. The following was the main lines of this document: he put an end to further division of the Indian earth into plots; allowed the Secretary of internal affairs to buy on credit the land for homeless Indians or in favor of reservations; provided money from revolving loan fund for economic development of Indian communities; allowed indigenous communities to organize own administrations under Federal Constitutions and to found the cooperative organizations approved by the federal government [1, page 51].

Initially was considered that this law was drafted without specific features of Alaska, and it is more for needs of the existing Indian reservations. In 1936 some adjustments calculated for needs of radical alyaskinets most of which part lived in the isolated villages, thus that there were also several large land reservations were introduced in it. The amendments to the law considering specifics of the region allowed the Secretary of internal affairs H. Ayks to allocate the land plots which were in general use and really occupied by Indians or Eskimos or as new reservations or as additional to already existing reservations.

Ayks listed three main reasons for creation of land reservations on Alaska: first, they will define "breeding accessory" of alyaskinets by correlation of certain groups with the earth which they for -

nimat; secondly, they will set geographical restrictions of jurisdiction communities of radical alyaskinets could be influenced by force of the local government; thirdly, they will give the chance to the United States to allocate lands and natural resources of indigenous people [3, page 11]. Besides, because natives of Alaska were perceived by the federal government rather as the people organized by the principles of the settlement, but not by the breeding principle, amendments to the law allowed them to unite in the native organizations according to the Federal Constitution or commercial contracts if they are connected by the general classes or just the residence in accurately depicted district, community or just rural area.

After adoption of amendments to the Law on reorganization of Indians the Department of internal affairs immediately began the organization of the Alaskan national villages according to the constitutional right announced in the law. It was rather difficult to make it. So, by the beginning of 1941 38 groups of native inhabitants were organized and registered, but any of them did not correspond to any of territories of land reservations. Then in 1943. The department of internal affairs allocated about 1.5 million acres of the earth for two national land reservations, the largest of which was a Veneti reservation — 1,408,000 acres [3, to page 11].

In other words, the policy of administration of Alaska of this period in relation to reservations was based on lawsuits about the status of land reservations and about legality of the land demands made by aboriginals. Thus, before acceptance in 1971. The law on the satisfaction of land claims the federal government recognized quite limited and relating generally to certain territories responsibility to aboriginals of Alaska. Kro-

me that, the federal government provided a wide range of social services to aboriginals generally because of their native status.

A specific place in decisions of Bureau for Indians was held by a question of protection of means of livelihood for aboriginals. Till the official beginning of activity on Alaska of Bureau for Indians the Department of internal affairs took a number of steps in this direction. For example, in 1930 768,000 acres of state lands for the land Tetlin reservation which purpose was a preservation for native inhabitants of resources for hunting and catching by traps were withdrawn. Earlier international contracts, such as Contract on migratory birds with England (1916) and the North Pacific convention on skins of seals (1911) provided primary, but very limited opportunities for hunting of aboriginals as providing them with a subsistence. In general these efforts were not coordinated and often incompatible, making impossible providing long-term protection of rights of indigenous peoples to means of livelihood.

On December 18, 1971 all reservations in the territory of Alaska (except for the Metlakatla reservation) according to Section 19 of the Law on the satisfaction of land claims of indigenous people of Alaska were abolished. The federal government in the questions concerning reservations established a historic fact of the special relations between the federal government and aboriginals of Alaska [1, page 56].

The history of adoption of the law considered by us begins with the fact that in the late sixties on Alaska occurred two, at first sight, not connected among themselves events. Later they were closely bound with each other and made as one of the most important national economic problems, and

a problem on preservation of the environment. During the period from 1968 to 1970 successful works on search of natural resources led to opening of the oil field in Nors Sloup on Alaska. At the end of 1970 the American Petroleum Institute estimated its exact reserves approximately at 9.6 trillions barrels (1 barrel is equal to 159 l). It meant that at full readiness the volume of the oil field eventually can be twice more. Its such sizes makes this discovery by the most important in the history of the local insufficiently developed oil industry.

Almost along with it, in 1969, the United States Congress adopts the Law on national policy on issues of the environment.

With discovery of the fields of oil along the Arctic coast and with jump in development of the oil companies Alaska was given an opportunity to add the brightest page of the history in development of the richest oil basin of America. Opening in 1968 of the huge oil field Hit into Prado in a northern part of the peninsula of Alaska marked the beginning of a new economic boom in the state. Construction of the pipeline for pumping of oil from Prado became an incentive for development of economy during this historical period Beat on the South of Alaska through all its territory. By 1980th the taxes from oil products already brought to the government of Alaska the large income measured by billions of dollars which the government of the state used for growth of economy.

On the other hand, with injection of the foreign capital (several times exceeding the cost of all gold mines on Alaska) on development of the neftedobyva-yushchiy industry there was fear that the state can turn into the industrial colony controlled by owners from "lower 48". These owners would have subsequently all reasons to demand

return of the money invested in state economy.

Discovery of oil and gas Hit into Prado 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 of 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. Claim the act was the only most important incentive for the organization of governmental and quasigovernmental bodies in rural Alaska. 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

Generally claims of natives of Alaska were satisfied by means of cash payments and land grants. About 962.5 million dollars had to be provided to corporations or individuals. About a half of the sum had to be transferred to the native regional corporations created according to the Law about udovletvo-

rhenium of land claims in order that those distributed this money among the shareholders. Rural corporations also received certain sums. The schedule of payments had to be made for 10 years.

Payments were made by Federal Treasury, to them the percent of the profit of the state got from oil increased. Here it should be noted that payments for these claims continue and till present. Though their way is difficult and not so rectilinear as could seem (the state — to the individual). Having proved the native origin and the right for a certain allotment, the aboriginal or the member of his family has the right to the annual certain sum.

Thus, corporations (both rural, and regional) were the main direct recipients of profit under this law. They were new official institutes on Alaska, but represented the most powerful force in the movement on land claims. Borders of 12 new regional corporations were close to borders of regional associations in land claims, and those who held the leading posts in native associations were invited to the leading posts in corporations.

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 [4, page 1], and execution of all technical requirements on transfer of federal property. For simplification of process of future choice of the earth native corporations vklyu-

Chile 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.

During this process there were questions of unfinished selection by the state of the federal lands which are of national interest on Alaska according to the law on statehood. All these problems were resolved in the Law on preservation of national interests of 1980 subsequently

Adopting the Law, the U. S. Congress recognized need for fair and lawful settlement of disputes of natives of Alaska concerning their primordial lands. At protection of the rights of aboriginals the creation of the institutes having special tax benefits or adoption of the legislation establishing the special relations between the U.S. Government and the State of Alaska is not allowed. It is forbidden to replace or limit any rights, privileges or duties radical

residents of the United States and Alaska and also United States and State of Alaska.

In the Law the principles on the basis of which it was supposed to resolve land disputes of aboriginals of Alaska are defined.

Treated them:

• principle of justice and legality;

• consideration of disputes extrajudicially according to the valid economic and social needs of aboriginals of Alaska;

• obligatory participation of indigenous people in decision-making which influence their rights, duties and property;

• a priority of interests of the USA by transfer of lands to aboriginals of Alaska.

Protection of the right of aboriginals of Alaska is made without formation of any permanent public institutions, granting the rights, the privileges or assignment of the obligations caused by national (racial) signs without formation of a system of reservations or long-term guardianship or guardianship.

In Article 26 of the Law is established that in case of a contradiction between the provisions of the law and standards of federal laws the priority has the Law on the satisfaction of land claims of indigenous people of Alaska.

The organization of transfer of lands to aboriginals of Alaska and to their associations according to the Law was carried out by the Secretary of internal resources to whose competence as the official — the representative of the federal authority — the following duties belonged:

• management of lands and others natural to resources of Alaska according to the legislation;

• organization of rational use of natural resources of Alaska;

• registration of all settlements of the aboriginals located on territo-

riya of Alaska and also groups of the aboriginals having the right to receive lands according to the Law;

• registration of all aboriginals of Alaska both living in the settlements and which are living outside Alaska having the right to receive lands according to the Law;

• registration of associations of aboriginals of Alaska (rural and regional corporations);

• formation of regions in the territory of Alaska;

• making decisions on withdrawal of lands for the subsequent transfer to their aboriginals of Alaska;

• making decisions on transfer of lands and providing patents for lands to rural and regional corporations and also aboriginals or groups of aboriginals.

The law on the satisfaction of land claims of indigenous people of Alaska extinguished almost all claims which could be based on the right of aboriginals. Actually all claims of the native population were repaid in exchange for money and recognition of some constant forms of settling or possession of property. On Alaska in the decisions the federal government went further away, than in other parts of the United States, having recognized the right for the monetary compensation for lands described in the law. According to this law if the state takes away any part of these lands in the property, then it has to compensate it. Thus, in a question of repayment and compensations for native lands the Congress treated aboriginals of Alaska as well as other native Americans whose claims for the rights of aboriginals were never challenged. According to laws of America, these native Americans maintained the special relations with the federal government as it occurred also on Alaska.

And though as a result the federal government could more and not have any duties in relation to aboriginals of Alaska, it does not mean that it had no duties in relation to alyaskinets as to the native population. All previous rights of aboriginals of Alaska under the Law on the satisfaction of land claims of indigenous people were in essence the same, as the rights of Indians in other parts of the USA. It not only gave to the state the exclusive power at repayment of claims, but also imputed protection of indigenous people against intervention of the third party a duty.

The congress recognized existence of the rights of inhabitants of Alaska as a reality. The essence was that the Congress realized the power, having settled requirements in the same way as many cases of aboriginals of Alaska were settled earlier. It repaid requirements of aboriginals, providing money in exchange for big grounds and recognizing their constant rights for smaller sites. Thus, the Law on land claims recognizes that under laws of America the federal relations of the state with aboriginals of Alaska the same as relations with other aboriginals.

Having looked at the history of Alaska, it is easy to see why between the federal government and aboriginals of Alaska even before adoption of the Land law there were relations of equal partners, but not the winner and defeated. From the very first days of contacts of the relation between emigrants and primordial cultures were based on the main tool of the Anglo-American law — the contract. Most obviously it is traced in contracts and agreements where at reciprocal concessions and exchange of promises the aboriginals agreed to refuse a part of the claims on lands and natural resources.

About one of the first land laws concerning Alaska, George Washington

in the speech in 1790 told: "It is protection of the rest of your lands. Any staff, any natural person cannot buy your lands until any public contract under the direction of U.S. authorities is signed. The Supreme government will never agree to that you were deceived, it will protect all your legal rights...

But your main objection, apparently, concerns protection of your remained lands and, therefore, I in this respect will be sure quite that in the future nobody will deceive you concerning your lands and that you have rights of sale of the lands and refusal of sale and, therefore, in the future the question of sale of land entirely will depend only on you. But

if you decide that in your interests to sell any part of lands, then the U.S. Government has to be present then at quality of the agent and to be a guarantor of safety of the fact that you will not be deceived in the course of the transaction" [3, page 53].

Thus, the social and political processes actually the partition of the earth between the state and native corporations begun on Alaska in the second half of the past of a century and continuing to this day, on the one hand, are that main distinctive political and historical feature of Alaska from "the lower 48 states", with another — forces native corporations to continue to trace and assert the land rights.


1. N.Ch. dachshunds. Indigenous people of Alaska on the eve of the third millennium. — SPb.: Science, 2002. - 420 pages
2. D. Hikl. At the Problem of public property. Model of Alaska — an opportunity for Russia? — M.: Progress publishing House, 2002. — 357 pages
3. Case D. S. Alaska Natives and American Laws. — Fairbanks: University ofAlaska Press, 1984. — 586 p.
4. Sheppard W. L. Continuity and Change in Norton Sound. Historic Sites and Their Contexts. — Fairbanks: University of Alaska, 1983. — 130 p.
Suzanne Peters
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