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Alaska Native Corporations and Native Lands

John T. Shively, Alaska Mineral Development (1978)

On December 18, 1971 President Nixon signed into law, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) P.L. 92-203 (85 Stat. 688; 43 U.S.C. 160 et. seq.) The signing of the Act by the President was the culmination of six years of hard lobbying by Alaska Native leaders to obtain a settlement of the claims that Alaska Natives had on most of the land in Alaska.

In many senses, Public Law 92-203 is landmark legislation for the American Indian and Alaska Native community. It is an entirely new approach to dealing with claims of American Natives. The legislation has also represented a starting point for other Native groups to press their claims against governments in Canada and Australia.

The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act is important not only because it represents a departure from the traditional American government settlements with American Natives, but also because it represents a settlement which has forced Alaska Natives to face many complex legal issues as a result of the Act. It is important to note that many of these issues remain unresolved and many will not be resolved without expensive and prolonged actions in the United States Court System. However, because ANCSA is a piece of Federal legislation, it can be amended and fine tuned by Congress. In fact, Congress has already amended ANCSA three times in the Acts of January 2, 1976, P.L. 94-204 (89 Stat