Unsettled: A podcast examining the legacy of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act

A black and white photo of a man pointing to a map.
L-R, Oliver Leavitt and Mayor Jake Adams of Barrow visit Senator Ted Stevens in Washington, D.C., on September 6, 1972, regarding ANCSA land selections for the Arctic Slope Region. (U.S. Senate / Ted Stevens Foundation photo)

Fifty years ago, U.S. Congress passed legislation that permanently terminated Alaska Natives’ land claims. On its anniversary, Alaska Public Media and the Anchorage Daily News, with Indigenous leaders from around the state as guests, examine the legacy of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and its impacts on subsistence, culture and the state’s economy.

Take a listen to our four-part podcast series, Unsettled, below or on Apple iTunes.

Episode 1: Was ANCSA fair? Or is that the wrong question?

With guest Maria Williams, a Native studies professor at University of Alaska Anchorage, we explore the history of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and ask how fair and just it was — both by the standards of the time and by the standards of today. With guest host Aaron Leggett of the Anchorage Museum and the Native Village of Eklutna.

Episode 2: How ANCSA reinforces, and clashes, with subsistence traditions

With guests Pete Schaeffer of the Native Village of Kotzebue and Mike Miller of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, we examine ANCSA’s intersection with Indigenous subsistence traditions. With guest host Aaron Leggett, we explore how the natural resource development encouraged by ANCSA can sometimes conflict with subsistence harvests and land stewardship, and other times enhance them.

Episode 3: The generations ANCSA left out

With guest Andrea Gusty of The Kuskokwim Corp., we investigate a polarizing element of the original settlement: how Indigenous Alaskans born after ANCSA’s effective date in the 1970s were left out of the governance, and profits, of the Native corporations created by the settlement. With guest host Meghan Sullivan of Indian Country Today.

Episode 4: What about the tribes?

With guest Natasha Singh, an attorney and tribal advocate, we explore the void that ANCSA left when it comes to the role of tribal governments in Alaska. We talk about how Native corporations can sometimes conflict with tribes that represent the same Native people, and the potential for those groups to collaborate more closely in the future.

Check out all of our ANCSA 50th Anniversary coverage at alaskapublic.org/ancsa50.

Nathaniel Herz is an Anchorage-based journalist. He's been a reporter in Alaska for a decade, and is currently reporting for Alaska Public Media. Find more of his work by subscribing to his newsletter, Northern Journal, at natherz.substack.com. Reach him at natherz@gmail.com.

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