RD 493/693 — Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act: Pre-1971 to present, 3 credits


Gordon L. Pullar, Ph.D.,
Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development
College of Community and Rural Development, UAF
2221 E. Northern Lights Blvd., Suite 213
Anchorage, AK  99508

Telephone: 1-800-770-9531 (toll free) or (907) 279-2706 (direct)

Office Hours: Tuesdays — Thursdays, 9am-12noon or by appointment

Course Description:

This upper division/graduate level course provides an advanced overview and analysis of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA). An in-depth look at the land claims movement of the 1960s will be highlighted by recorded presentations by Alaska Native leaders who were key participants in the movement and implementation. The course will also closely review the legislative process that resulted in the passage of ANCSA focusing on firsthand accounts of those who were involved. The implementation phase of ANCSA will be examined as well as the crucial “1991 amendments.’ Case studies involving unique challenges of individual Native villages and regions will be discussed. Finally, contemporary issues facing ANCSA corporations will be examined.

Course Goals:

  • To understand the legal history and Federal Indian Policy that preceded the introduction and passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.
  • To provide an in-depth analysis of ANCSA from the land claims movement, legislative process and early implementation to current issues facing ANCSA corporations
  • To learn who the major participants were among the Alaska Native leadership in the passage and implementation of ANCSA.
  • To analyze provisions of ANCSA and their impacts on Alaska Natives and rural communities with an emphasis on Sections 7 (i), 14 (c), 17 (d)(2), 22 (g), the “1991 amendments’ and other amendments.

Required Textbooks:

  • Arnold, Robert D. (1976) Alaska Native Land Claims. Alaska Native Foundation, Anchorage, Alaska. On line at:
  • Gallagher, H.G. Etok: A Story of Eskimo Power. (2001) [1974] Vandamere Press, Clearwater, Florida.
  • Mitchell, Donald C., (2001), Take My Land Take My Life. University of Alaska Press, Fairbanks, Alaska.
  • Pratt, Kenneth L. (ed.). (2009) Chasing the Dark: Perspectives on Place, History and Alaska Native Land Claims. U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Division of Environmental and Cultural Resources Management, ANCSA Office. (Note: This book provided courtesy of the Bureau of Indian Affairs)

Other Required Readings:

Selected Course Readings:

NOTE:  Additional relevant readings will be posted on Blackboard or emailed to students as we move through the course. These may relate to guest speakers, relevant topics or areas of student interest.

Recommended Reading:

  • Berger, Thomas R. (1985) Village Journey: The Report of the Alaska Native Review Commission. Wang and Hill, New York.
  • Hensley, William L. Iggiagruk, (2008) Fifty Miles to Tomorrow: A Memoir of Alaska and the Real People. Farrar Straus Giroux, New York
  • Morgan, Lael. (1974) And the Land Provides: Alaskan Natives in a Year of Transition. Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York.

Recommended Websites:

Class Expectations:

Assigned readings should be read in a timely manner as you move through the course work. Students should check the Blackboard announcements regularly to see if any current event readings have been added.

Student comments will be assessed via their weekly Blackboard Discussion Board contributions. Students must make thoughtful, substantive comments each week in their Discussion Board posts to earn maximum credit.

Written Assignments:

Written assignments must be typed, double spaced and spell checked. Clarity, brevity and expression of your own ideas in your own words are expected. Written assignments will be graded on content, grammar, punctuation, and format. The American Anthropological Association (AAA) Style Guide is preferred but you may use another style guide if you inform the instructor which one you are using. They must reflect assigned readings, class discussions and most importantly, original thinking. Students are encouraged to have their papers reviewed by the UAF Writing Center before submission. See AAA Style Guide at:

Reflection papers:

Students are required to write three brief (1-3 pages for BA students and 3-6 pages for MA students) reflection papers, one each on the three sections of the class:

  1. Land claims movement and legislative process (Modules 1-5)
  2. ANCSA implementation process (Modules 6-9)
  3. Current land and corporation issues and events (Modules 10-15)

These papers should be reflections of one’s thoughts and not simply repeating what was said, either in the reading assignments or video clips. Reflect on such questions as:

  • What do I feel I learned?
  • What information surprised me or made a particularly strong impression on me?
  • What information, if any, validated what I already knew?

These reflections may also include comments on current events or issues that may emerge during the semester. Students are encouraged to pay particular attention to the Alaska Federation of Natives Annual Convention to be held in Fairbanks on October 21-23 and include impressions in Paper #2. Papers will be graded on both content and form, including grammar and spelling. Papers should be submitted through an Assignment feature in Modules 5, 9, and 15.

Final Assignment (RD 493 students):

A 12-20 page research paper on an Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act land, natural resource issue or in-depth case study of an ANCSA leader or corporation. The paper can be an in-depth case study, a description of a controversial issue, a description of a local issue, or any combination of these. The paper must have at least three references in the reference section with at least one of the references coming from outside the required class reading assignments.

Final Assignment (RD 693 students):

For graduate credit the final research paper must be 15-25 pages and include a comparison of ANCSA with another indigenous land claims agreement or a treaty from the lower 48, Yukon Territory, Nunavut, or other nations. Research papers must have at least five references with at least two coming from outside the required reading assignments. Students may propose another topic which may be used with instructor approval.

Blackboard Discussion Board Assignments:

Students must post at least two comments per week on the Discussion Board in Blackboard for maximum credit. These comments can be reflections, opinions, or impressions on anything covered in the class readings or video clips. Each Module listed on the Discussion Board has some topics and questions as prompts for you to begin your comments. These posts should generate discussions among students as well as with the instructor. They will be graded on originality, thoughtfulness, relevance, and connection to the module topics. New or current topics related to ANCSA may also be introduced on the Discussion Board.

An example for how a comment on Module #1 might begin is: “I was surprised to learn that the U.S. government stopped making treaties with Indian tribes 100 years before ANCSA. This explains why treaty tribes in the ‘Lower 48’ often have hunting and fishing rights while Alaska Natives do not. I also found it amazing that ANCSA did exactly the opposite of the treaties by explicitly abolishing all aboriginal hunting and fishing rights that may have existed.’

Google Search:

Several places throughout the course you will be instructed to perform a “Google search’ on various individuals and events. These searches are intended to increase you knowledge of each person and to provide added materials to use in your written assignments. When you do these searches consider the sources where you find your information and review their reliability. Comments on blogs and information found on Wikipedia are not generally accepted as reliable academic information. Consider also possible unintended bias from your sources; an industry or natural resource development journal may have very different opinions about ANCSA than a tribal member or organization because they experience ANCSA in entirely different ways and hope to gain different things from it.

Avoid gathering information that will not be of use in your assignments; family demographics are nice, but not as pertinent to this course as the professional positions the individual has held and the different ways in which they have been involved with ANCSA. Keep your search focused in reference to the unit you are working on. If you are working on a unit that discusses Willie Hensley’s work in the early lands claims movement, information about his current activities with First Alaskans Institute should be saved for a later unit.

If a unit has directed you to “Google search’ someone you should include information from your search in that unit’s written assignment together with appropriate citations to your source. If you find you are getting too wide a range of responses to your search you can narrow your results by including words like “Alaska’, “ANCSA’ or the year you are interested in after the person’s name.

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