Section 7 of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act created the regional Native corporations. It was these, along with the village corporations, that received the land and money of the settlement (Laster, 1986).
What do the corporations created by ANCSA actually do? In most ways they are like any other corporation. They’re expected to make a profit. The Native corporations invest heavily in the economic growth of Alaska.
Native leaders became effective lobbyists against some of the most powerful political and business leaders in the world. It all made for some interesting alliances. By the end of 1971 a compromise had been reached, and the land claims legislation had been passed by both bodies of Congress. In December, back in Anchorage, a special AFN convention was called to vote on the act as passed by Congress. On December 18th, the AFN delegates voted to accept the act, 511 to 56.
In 1880, Chief Kaawaa’ee, a Tlingit of the Aak’w Kwáan, led Joe Juneau and Dick Harris to gold. Prior to the gold find, the non-Native population in Alaska was less than 400. After the discovery, thousands of miners and settlers arrived. This put pressure on Tlingit land. The Organic Act of 1884 established a land district (a type of administrative land division) and branches of government in Alaska. The law gave title to land held by non-Native people in the new territory, but did not allow Alaska Natives to acquire title to their land. The first duty of the new land office was to give legal title to mining claims. A number of Tlingit people attempted to file mining claims, but were denied because they were not United States citizens. Although the Tlingit still owned southeast Alaska under aboriginal title (a common law doctrine that the land rights on indigenous people persist even after settler colonialism), they did not benefit from wealth generated by the mineral resources
The Organic Act of 1884 established schools in Alaska for all children. The schools were set up “for the education of children of school age in the Territory of Alaska, without reference to race.” Sheldon Jackson, a Presbyterian missionary, was the general agent of education in Alaska. He used $25,000
provided by Congress to pay for mission schools set up for Native children. Federal subsidies for church-run schools continued until 1895, when the Bureau of Education assumed control of many Alaskan schools. The United States educational policy was to “civilize” Native children. In school, there were many rules in place that prevented Native children from speaking their traditional language. Often times, corporal punishment was used to discourage Native children from practicing their traditional culture. In 1905, the Nelson Act passed which also established two separate systems of education. The federal government was responsible for Native education, while the territorial government controlled white education.
The 1880 treaty was a typical federal policy and practice that failed to recognize Indian land ownership and functioned to transfer power to American hands.
The Navy altered the Tlingit way of life in many ways. For example, the Navy told the Tlingit of American ownership of their former lands and introduced new rules around land ownership and usage. Prior to American confiscation of Tlingit lands, each clan owned and controlled specific geographical areas, and set guidelines for hunting and fishing. In 1881, Commander Henry Glass promoted the signing of a formal peace treaty between the
Stikine Tlingit at Wrangell and the Xutsnoowú Tlingit at Angoon. This agreement contained language that regulated Tlingit hunting and fishing, and removed Tlingit jurisdiction and control over their former lands. The Navy also displaced Tlingit people from their traditional homeland, which violated the 1867 Treaty of Cession.
In 1867, Russia signed the Treaty of Cession which governed the sale of Alaska to the United States for $7.2 million. The Tlingit people living in Alaska were upset with the deal. They kept their independence during the Russian occupation and believed they owned the land of Southeast Alaska. Several councils of Tlingit clan leaders met to discuss their objections to the sale. In 1869, the clan leaders registered an official complaint with the United States Treasury Department that Alaska was sold without their consent. This effort was the beginning of Tlingit and Haida legal efforts and diplomacy to obtain title to their land.
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