Perspectives on Business and Economics, Vol. 40

73 or are there solutions to present-day problems other than federally imposed guidelines? This article argues for possible solutions to the shortcomings of ANCSA in meeting the modern needs of Alaska Natives, namely, 1) the expansion of Alaska Natives’ subsistence living rights, including hunting and fishing; 2) a deeper examination of how Alaska Natives view land ownership; and 3) the adoption of a sustainable development approach to economic growth for Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs), one that considers a community’s economic, social, and environmental needs. History of Alaska Nomadic bands first settled in Alaska between 11,000 and 30,000 years ago, having traveled across a land bridge between Russia and western Alaska. These bands formed three main distinct groups: Aleuts in the Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands; Inuit in the north (including the Yupik and the Inupiat subgroups); and Tlingit, Haida, and Athabascans in the southeast and interior of Alaska (Anderson, 2007). Following a period of Russian colonization that lasted from 1732 to 1867, the United States purchased Alaska for a cost of $7.2M, or approximately $.02 per acre. Known as Seward’s Folly, after Secretary of State William H. Seward, the region was seen as largely worthless, and the American public initially was critical of the purchase. However, public opinion quickly shifted when significant amounts of gold were discovered in the 1890s, especially near the Klondike region of the Yukon Valley in Canada, leading to the Klondike gold rush. During the nineteenth century, Alaska Natives and the US federal government maintained relatively good relations due to abundant natural resources and land and a comparatively low number of American settlers. Congress first acknowledged Native claims in 1884 through the First Organic Act, which created the District of Alaska, stating, “the Indians or other persons in said district shall not be disturbed in possession of any lands actually in their use or occupation or now claimed by them, but terms under which such person may acquire title to such lands is reserved for future legislation by Congress” (Blum, 2021). This marked a precedent for how future land claims would be dealt with. On January 3, 1959, Congress passed the Alaska Statehood Act in response to the growing population, the strategic military value of the state with its proximity to the Soviet Union, and the unearthing of oil in the Swanson River on the Kenai Peninsula. However, the creation of statehood and the transfer of federal land increased the stakes for Alaska Natives to settle aboriginal land claims. As a result, Alaska Natives filed formal protests in 1961, leading US Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall to impose a land freeze to halt the federal land transfer (Anderson, 2007). In response to the Alaska Statehood Act, Native villages and regional organizations wanted to halt the complete land transfer to the state. In 1966, they formed the Alaska Federation of Natives; 250 representatives at its first convention decided to form a lands claim committee. The governor’s office proposed finding a mutually agreeable solution, which led to the creation of the Alaska Native Claims Task Force in the same year. State Representative Willie Hensley led this group, consisting of representatives from the US Department of the Interior, state government leaders, and Native leaders. The Origin of ANCSA On December 18, 1971, President Richard Nixon signed ANCSA, recognizing that “there was an immediate need for a fair and just settlement of all claims by Natives and Native groups of Alaska based on aboriginal [status]” (Ongtooguk, 1986). Some critics called the most significant land claim settlement act in US history an experiment, while others considered it an act of termination. However, scholars agree that ANCSA was, and continues to be, a complex piece of legislation. The act’s complexity stemmed from the compromises deemed necessary between Congress, Alaska Native leaders, Alaska state officials, and significant oil lobbyists. Native Alaskans exchanged their indigenous claims to more than 360 million acres of land for the clear title to approximately 45.5 million acres and payments of approximately $960M. The final settlement was unlike the reservation system implemented for most tribes in the Lower 48. ANCSA established 12 regional ANCs that were profit driven as well as more than 200 village and urban corporations. Stock