Perspectives on Business and Economics, Vol. 40

Perspectives on Business and Economics, Vol. 40, 2022 72 Our focus was on land. The land was our future, our survival. In my region, all we wanted was to get control of our space so we could live on it and hunt and fish on it and make our way into the twenty-first century at our own pace. The vehicle for administering the land was not our focus… we were battling the state tooth and tong. We were always afraid of failure, not getting a settlement, and not protecting the land for our future generations…but none of us ever envisioned a loss of tribal structure… that tribal control would not continue. —William “Willie” Hensley, former member of the Alaska House of Representatives and Alaska State Senate Introduction More than 50 years ago, a student of Inupiat descent at the University of Alaska Fairbanks decided to study constitutional law. Willie Iġġiaġruk Hensley, who was only in his mid20s, wrote a compelling argument claiming that Alaska Natives retained the aboriginal title to the land (Hensley, 1966). He argued that, because there was no signed treaty or battle between the United States and the indigenous tribes of Alaska, the tribes retained rights to the land. His activism led Native associations to notice and file federal land claims. These claims were the impetus for the passing of the momentous 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), which legalized land ownership rights for all parties going forward in time. Although well intentioned, serious questions remain as to the long-term effectiveness of ANCSA. Has ANCSA provided economic opportunity and cultural preservation for Native Alaskans through the provision of land and federal funding? How has this piece of legislation remained relevant more than 50 years after its passing? What have been the shortcomings of the bill? What legislation will be needed for the well-being of future Alaska Native generations, CONTEMPORARY IMPLICATIONS OF THE 1971 ALASKA NATIVE CLAIMS SETTLEMENT ACT Adrian De Vera Suarez The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA) was created in order to provide economic prosperity for Alaska Natives. However, the modern needs of Alaska Natives have drastically changed and so must the act. This article proposes amendments to ANCSA, namely, the expansion of subsistence living rights; a deeper examination of Alaska Native land ownership; and the adoption of sustainable development approaches that take into account the community’s economic, social, and environmental needs.