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Alaska's D-2 Lands

John K. Norman Cole, Steven W. Silver, Alaska Mineral Development (1978)

For over 100 years, from 1766 to 1867, Russia laid claim to the vast area of Alaska. For the next 91 years Alaska was a territory of the United States. During all this long period very little happened to change the basic status of the land or to restrict activities thereon. Though large areas were set aside for National Forests, Parks, Wildlife Refuges and Military Withdrawals, by and large most of the Territory remained part of the broad public domain.

During this period Alaska was a sleeping giant. Competition for private land in the State was not great and Alaska's Native peoples generally remained undisturbed in the traditional use and occupancy of their lands.

The event which startled the giant from sleep was statehood. It has been said that at the time Alaska became a state on January 3, 1959, one could have memorized a general land ownership map of the entire state in less than five minutes.1 The Alaska Statehood Act changed all this. Under the Act the new State was given the right to select in excess of one hundred million acres from the public domain.2

As the State slowly and cautiously began to exercise its selection rights, people came to realize that the era when all of Alaska was just one great federal reserve was drawing to a close. Native leaders reacted with concern when the State filed selection applications on lands also claimed by t