Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A different approach to Native American land

The preceding post about the Rumsey Band of the Wintum Indians and their casino development touched on the how some Native American communities are tied to specific land for economic development. In Alaska, most Native communities are organized differently than most in the lower 48. In the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (conveniently summarized in the fact statement in Alaska v. Village of Venetie), the federal government transitioned Native communities from reservations into regional and village corporations in which individuals own shares. The corporations were assigned land and a monetary settlement of $963 million from the federal government and anticipated oil revenues. Different corporations have met with different levels of economic success and some yield healthy dividends to shareholders. One of the effects has been an interesting, albeit complicated, interaction between Native communities and municipal and state government.

1 comment:

mpb said...

the federal government transitioned Native communities from reservations into regional and village corporations in which individuals own shares.

Actually, the too brief and simplistic history is that there was never but one reservation in Alaska and the other Alaska Native communities and villages (and *their living areas*) were never reservations. The land which was transferred to private ownership (regional and Village corporations) as a "quit claim" of sorts was, generally, the traditional living areas.

Here's a good historical/school source, Alaskool Central
and Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act Resources
and
Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act


But you are quite correct the governance is complicated. The state, in some of its legal transactions, recognizes traditional Native communities/governments which are not tribal governments [entities recognized by the Secy of the Interior...] which are not municipalities which may or may not be 99% Alaska Native....

Then the whole question of "trust responsibility" is another [I think the state has some but I'm not a lawyer]

And, of course, there is the nation's only Unorganized Borough in which I am the independent scientist and scholar.