ANCSA: historic act with far-reaching impact

Sparked by the Native Claims movement of the 1960s, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) was signed into law on December 18, 1971. ANCSA marked a new approach to aboriginal land claims—and a shift away from the reservation system found throughout the U.S. It was from this visionary law that BBNC was formed.

Under ANCSA, 12 regions were designated across the state of Alaska, and 12 for-profit corporations were created. In a settlement involving around 45 million acres, Congress transferred land from federal to private ownership and appropriated $962 million in funds to be managed by the newly formed corporations. As shareholders of these corporations, the Alaska Native people would determine the land’s use and guide its development.

ANCSA was meant to resolve long-standing conflicts between the government and the Native people who had lived in these regions for centuries. But the historic act fulfilled another purpose—as an engine for economic development in Alaska, especially in rural areas. As one of the 12 Alaska Native corporations created by ANCSA, BBNC has been contributing to Alaska’s economy since our founding in 1972. And we’ve distributed more than $180 million in distributions to our shareholders.

Key Terms of ANCSA

  • Alaska Native: A U.S. citizen of at least one-quarter Alaska Indian, Eskimo or Aleut blood; a citizen whose Native village classifies him or her as Native or whose biological or adoptive parent is Native.
  • Patent: Title to land conveyed by the federal government.
  • Site control: Permission to use another’s land (i.e. deed, lease, or easement).
  • Surface: On or above the surface of the land.
  • Subsurface: Below the surface of the land; includes gravel, minerals, and hydrocarbons.
  • Township: A square unit measure of land of approximately 36 square miles.
  • Townsite: Land surveyed under federal townsite laws; assumes a community could form or expand.
  • Village: A community or association with at least 25 Alaska Natives present during the 1970 census.
  • Shareholder: With the passage of ANCSA, each eligible Alaska Native with 1/4 or more Alaska Native blood quantum that could show ties to their ancestral region was issued 100 shares of stock in their regional and/or village corporation; these shares of stock represent ownership of the corporation. Stock can be passed to other individuals through a gifting process or inheritance; stock cannot be bought or sold.


Interested in learning more? The following resources contain additional information on ANCSA: