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Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act Project Jukebox

Date Posted: September 19, 2022       Categories: News

In recognition of the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) in December 1971, the UAF Oral History Program has just launched the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act Project Jukebox online interactive website that combines oral history recordings, film, photos and documents to tell the story behind the fight for passage of ANCSA, its role in Alaska’s history, and its legacy (https://jukebox.uaf.edu/ancsa).

The ANCSA legislation, which passed Congress and was signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1971, resolved long-standing issues surrounding aboriginal land claims in Alaska and stimulated long-lasting economic development through the allocation of 44 million acres of land and nearly $1 billion to Alaska Native corporations.

The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act Project Jukebox emphasizes the recollections of people who are important to the Native land claims movement, and is an opportunity to recognize those who worked to bring about this settlement, to assess the legislation that was created, and to evaluate impacts fifty years later. The story of ANCSA has been written in many published works, however, hearing from the people in their own words about their struggles, their successes, and what actually happened offers a richer and more personal experience. By listening to these first-hand accounts, students of land claims can better understand what their leaders went through to build a better world. It includes: ten new oral history interviews with those involved in the passage of ANCSA whose stories have not yet been heard or who reflect on its longer-term legacies; a few historically important archival recordings of key leaders of the land claims movement; and links to ANCSA-related film clips in the Alaska Film Archives.

Funding for the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act Project Jukebox was provided by the Alaska State Library through an Interlibrary Cooperation Grant based on American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

Workshop: Alaska Court Records Research

Date Posted: September 17, 2022       Categories: News

October 7, 9:30am
Workshop: Alaska Court Records Research
With Niesje Steinkruger, retired Superior Court Judge, and Karen Gray, State Archivist
Alaska State Archives, Juneau, Alaska

There is a wealth of family, tribal, village, and community history in Alaska’s court records. You will find births, deaths, marriages, adoptions, inquests, wills, village boundaries, estates, licenses, criminal cases, lawsuits, and territorial justice and record keeping that is not available elsewhere. Villagers will find new stories and sources of their tribal history.

This is a hands-on research workshop where you will be looking at and reading the actual records.

Note: If you plan to come, email nsteinkruger@me.com with the names of the village, town, or subject you are interested in so the appropriate docket books can be pulled from the shelves and be available.

For more information, see the workshop’s informational flyer.


Morningside Hospital Lecture

Date Posted: September 17, 2022       Categories: News

October 6, 2022, 12:00 noon
The Lost Alaskans
Lecture by Niesje Steinkruger and Eric Cordingly
Part of the Sealaska Heritage Institute’s Fall Lecture Series to be held at Shuka’ Hit in the Walter Soboleff building in Juneau, Alaska and livestreamed on Sealaska Heritage Insitute’s YouTube channel.

Between the late 1800s and 1960, Alaskan men, women and children from villages and towns were found “really and truly Insane” by a jury of six white men and sent away. Most were sent to Morningside Hospital in Portland, Oregon. Many graves have been found, but many are unmarked burials. Come listen to learn about the Lost Alaskans sent to Morningside Hospital.

For more information, see the lecture’s informational flyer.


AHS Annual Business Meeting Scheduled for October 14

Date Posted: September 3, 2022       Categories: News

The Alaska Historical Society board is encouraging all AHS members to participate in this year’s virtual business meeting, scheduled for Friday, Oct. 14 2-3:30 p.m, as part of the annual conference.

Click here for the business meeting agenda.

The primary agenda item is consideration of changes to AHS bylaws, which have not been updated since 2009. The board is requesting members approve changes to permit electronic voting and circulation of information, among other issues. Click here to view the AHS bylaws with the proposed 2022 revisions. Click here to view the AHS Bylaws with the proposed 2022 revisions.

The meeting also will have reports of the past year’s activities, announcement of newly elected members of the board of directors, presentation of the society’s annual awards, and remembrance of our colleagues who died this past year. There will be time for members to speak on issues of concern to Alaska’s history community and propose programs and projects for the society to undertake.

The Zoom link and passcode to participate in the business meeting will be included in the mailing that members will receive later this month with the ballot for election of directors, as well as if you register for the conference. Members unable to attend the meeting may vote by proxy and a form will be included in the mailing.

If you wish to attend, and are not participating in the full fall conference, please email members@alaskahistoricalsociety.org for information on how to join the meeting.

Comprehensive Guide to Landmark Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act

Date Posted: August 25, 2022       Categories: 49 History News

The first-ever comprehensive guide to historical sources about the landmark Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) has been completed by the Alaska Historical Society (AHS).

The three-volume, nearly 1,200-page Guide to Sources for the Study of the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act identifies the vast majority of documents in existence about the historic claims act legislation located in archives, libraries, personal collections and online from Alaska to Washington, D.C. It serves as the premier information gateway for researchers, historians and those interested in the fascinating history of how the largest land claims settlement in U.S. history became law.

The AHS spent more than two years identifying documents about the act and detailing where they are located and how they can be accessed. The project unearthed numerous fascinating “gems” leading to passage of the act, such as:

  • A 20-page report about the first statewide meeting of Alaska Native leaders in Anchorage in 1966 that laid the groundwork for establishment of the Alaska Federation of Natives.
  • A 1970 speech by President Nixon on Indian policy in which he called for a new approach to the federal treatment of Native Americans, a historic change from termination to self-determination.
  • A speech by Dr. Henry Forbes, whose financial backing helped establish the Tundra Times and who worked with Howard Rock, the newspaper’s founder and editor.


“The Alaska Historical Society has produced a valuable resource guide to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act,” said Tlingit elder and land claims activist Irene Rowan, who also served in Washington, D.C., in the 1970s as special assistant for Alaska programs to the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs in the U.S. Department of the Interior. “This tool is important to those wishing to learn who was involved—why, how and who benefited. The guide will be useful in so many ways for so many people for many years to come. I commend and thank the AHS for taking on this mammoth and important project.”

“ANCSA was a major turning point in the history of Alaska Natives and their relationships to local, state and federal governments,” said Chuck Smythe, senior ethnologist with the Sealaska Heritage Institute. “This invaluable sourcebook provides a guide to primary and secondary sources for understanding what led to this act and its aftermath, which is still unfolding across the state.”

Tundra Times newspaper, December 22, 1971. Courtesy of Ukpeagvik Iñupiat Corporation and Tuzzy Consortium Library of Utqiaġvik, Alaska.


The project is organized into three separate documents for ease of use:

  • VOLUME 1 – HISTORY AND ARCHIVAL COLLECTIONS is an inventory of primary sources about the act detailing where specific historic documents are housed and how to view them. Sites include university, state and national archives, presidential libraries, museums, on-line data bases and agencies such as the National Park Service.
  • VOLUME 2 – ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY is a bibliography of published and unpublished sources of information about the act including books, articles, films, websites, major archival collections and even college theses and term papers. For example, it includes the college research paper Iñupiaq leader Willie Hensley wrote in 1966 which brought to light the legal reasons Natives had a claim to land.
  • VOLUME 3 – RESOURCES FOR THE TEACHING OF ANCSA AT 50 is a guide for educators wanting to teach about ANCSA and features curriculum approaches and key questions to pursue with their students.


The guide is a fully searchable and navigable electronic PDF document available online.


Essential funding for the project came from Alaska Native regional corporations including Doyon, Sealaska, Calista, Bering Straits and Koniag, as well as from the Rasmuson Foundation and the Atwood Foundation.


Contact William Schneider, project director, at wsschneider@alaska.edu

Download Project’s Informational Flyer

Download AHS Press Release, August 22, 2022