AHS Blog | 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.
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 email@example.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.
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.
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.
PRAISE FOR THE GUIDE
“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.”
EXPLORING THE GUIDE
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.
ACCESSING THE GUIDE ONLINE
The guide is a fully searchable and navigable electronic PDF document available online.
- Access the complete guide at the Alaska Historical Society’s webpage: www.tinyurl.com/ANCSAguide
- Access the complete guide at Scholarworks, a digital repository for University of Alaska research: www.tinyurl.com/ANCSAguideUA
OUR FUNDING PARTNERS
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.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Contact William Schneider, project director, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Download AHS Press Release, August 22, 2022
Professor Bathsheba Demuth, a cutting-edge environmental historian whose first book won numerous national awards, will be the keynote speaker at this October’s Alaska Historical Society’s annual conference, which is co-sponsored by the Cook Inlet Historical Society.
Demuth will speak on the topic, “History from a Dogsled: The Yukon and the Stakes of Telling the Past,” at the Anchorage Museum at 7 p.m. on October 6, 2022. This talk looks at the intertwined, co-dependent lives of people, dogs and salmon along the 19th century Yukon River for examples of how to tell more capacious, polyvocal narratives—and the stakes of doing so for and about Alaska, a place where the politics of who speaks the past has bearing on present conflicts over land, meaning, and the possibilities of the future.
Her presentation will be followed by a book-signing for her book, Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait. Her talk also will be live-streamed by the museum. In addition to kicking off the AHS conference, Demuth’s presentation will be part of the Cook Inlet Historical Society’s regular lecture series at the museum.
Demuth is an associate professor of History and Environment and Society at Brown University where she specializes in the lands and seas of the Russian and North American Arctic. Her interest in the north began when she was 18 and moved to the village of Old Crow in the Yukon Territory of Canada, where she spent several years mushing, hunting, fishing, and otherwise learning the ways of the taiga and tundra.
She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Brown University, and master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. Her writing has appeared in publications from The American Historical Review to The New Yorker. Floating Coast was named a best book of 2019 by Nature, National Public Radio, Kirkus Reviews and Library Journal, among others. A current Carnegie Foundation Fellow, she is working on a book about the environmental pasts of the Yukon River. When not in Alaska, she lives in Rhode Island.
This year’s multiple-day Alaska Historical Society conference (Oct. 7-8 and 13-15; virtual through the Crowdcast streaming application) will focus on the theme, “Conflicting Visions of Alaska History.” From the first European exploration of Alaska, the region’s history has been subject to widely diverse and often conflicting accounts, from Russian coercion of Alaska Native peoples in the sea otter trade to conflicts about oil development and Native land claims. Numerous presentations over portions of six days will focus on those issues. Other conference workshops will focus on Native American boarding schools, Alaska Native land claims and community-based history.
Conference registration is $50 and opens August 15.
For more information about Bathsheba Demuth and her presentation, see the Alaska Historical Society’s July 7, 2022 Press Release, “National Author, Environmental Historian to Open Fall History Conference.”