The ANCSA and the Native corporation system
The Alaska has been home of several explorers including Russians, the USA and the British during the medieval period. The vast marine, oil and natural gas resources present in this region attracted these explorers during that period. Exploitation of these resources had devastating effects of the natives socially and economically. Upon relinquishing of the Alaska to the USA by the Russians (Arnold, 1978), the US congress legislated laws with reference to the ‘aboriginals’ that occupied the Alaska. The Alaska Native Regional Corporations (ANCSA) of 1971 and the Native corporations have made major milestones at ensuring the region’s economic and cultural autonomy (Anders, 1983).
Importance and weaknesses of ANSCA and Native Corporations
ANSCA and the twelve Regional corporations have helped in securing jobs for over 16000 natives out of a possible 58000 jobs offered by the 49 companies working in the region. This has ensured that revenues generated by the native workers help in developing and transforming the region economically as well as support livelihoods in the region.
Through ANSCA, natives are able to generate value from the resources in the region. After the extinguishment of aboriginal land claims in 1981, and subsequent relinquishing of land to the natives (Anders, 1983), the Native Corporations became the largest landowners in the region. Exploitation and development of these resources, land or sea guarantees jobs for the Natives.
Native corporations have also engaged in strategic partnerships with Alaska exploring industries to fast track infrastructural development in the region. These partnerships have led to the establishment of schools, hospitals and recreation centers in the region.
Due to the unevenness in the distribution of natural resources, native corporations can merge under the law to ease the economic strain experienced by certain region(s). However, merger stipulations require for the existence of at least 7 Native corporations at any given time. In practice however these merges are faced with difficulty due to cultural barriers and distinct goals among the twelve Native corporations.
ANCSA and native corporations marginalized persons born after December 1971 from participating in and being shareholders of village corporations. This lack of a futuristic appreciation has led to a lack of appreciation for the role ANCSA by the new generation born after the 1971 legislation.
Allocation of lands for the Regional corporations left some region endowed while some were lacking in the land resource. Doyon Native Corporation has an ambiguously large land base of hence more resources while Sealaska has no appreciable land (Arnold, 1978), to the displeasure and discontentment of some elders in the villages. This inequitable distribution of resources leads to non-uniform development within the native corporations hence inter-Corporation strife (Arnold, 1978).
Cultural practices in the Native corporations impede youth in the region from fitting into the competitive global sphere, as most practices in the region are communal. This ignorance has necessitated the search of expatriates to help in managing various institutions that require skilled manpower in the region. Natives therefore loose out on the more influential managerial portfolios (Anders, 1983) and are relegated to the low pay menial jobs.
Enterprise development in the region is not viable because federal laws, under the ANCSA, imposed in the region inflate the cost of establishing and operating a business. This has therefore necessitated inter-corporation partnerships so as to reduce the cost of operating businesses.
Anders, G. C. (1983). The role of Alaska Native corporations in the development of Alaska. In Development and Change (Vol. 14, pp. 555-575).
Arnold, D. R. (1978). Alaska Native land claims. . Anchorage, Alaska Native Foundation.