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Honoring the Founders: Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act Project Jukebox was created in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) on December 18, 1971. This landmark legislation transferred 44 million acres of land from the federal government to newly formed Alaska Native regional and village corporations, and provided $962.5 million in compensation for lost land. It was the largest settlement of Native land claims in American history and transformed the social, political and economic landscape of Alaska, including with the influence of Native regional corporations, improvements to life in rural villages, management of land and subsistence, tribal sovereignty, and development of Native leadership. Not everyone supported ANCSA; it extinguished Aboriginal title to the land and Aboriginal hunting and fishing rights, thereby restricting Native control over land and subsistence.
The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act Project Jukebox emphasizes the recollections of people who are important to the Native land claims movement, and is an opportunity to recognize those who worked to bring about this settlement, to assess the legislation that was created, and to evaluate impacts fifty years later. The story of ANCSA has been written in many published works, however, hearing from the people in their own words about their struggles, their successes, and what actually happened offers a richer and more personal experience. By listening to these first-hand accounts, students of land claims can better understand what their leaders went through to build a better world.
In 2021, the Alaska Historical Society produced the "Guide to Sources for the Study of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act" that contains information about primary source archival resources on ANCSA available from archives around the state and nationally (Volume 1 is an inventory of major collections; Volume 2 is an annotated bibliography of published material; and Volume 3 presents educational resources for the teaching of ANCSA). It includes descriptions of manuscript and photograph collections, oral histories, historic film, media productions, and online materials.
The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act Project Jukebox was created in 2022 by Karen Brewster of the Oral History Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Funding was provided by the Alaska State Library through an Interlibrary Cooperation Grant based on American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. The information in this project reflects the context of the original creation date. Some information may become out of date.
*Native leaders in this photograph from left to right are: Tim Wallis, President Fairbanks Native Association; Charles Edwardsen, Jr., Executive Director Arctic Slope Native Association; Eben Hopson; Emil Notti; Attorney Barry Jackson (standing); State Senator William Hensley; and Alfred Ketzler. Farthest back on the right are State Senator Ray Christiansen and Frank Degnan. John Borbridge is seated in the foreground.
Delois Burggraf was born in 1938 to Dorothea and Charlie Purvis in Kansas City and spent her early years living on a farm in Missouri. The family moved to Nenana, Alaska in 1951 and she quickly took to the small community and rural subsistence lifestyle. She loved the woods, and learned to run a dog team, hunt and trap, and ran a snare line near the house to catch rabbits for dinner. Her father was a big supporter of equality for Natives and became close friends with many of the local... Read More
Sam Demientieff is an Athabascan who was born in Holy Cross, Alaska in 1939, and grew up in Nenana and Fairbanks, and along the Yukon and Tanana Rivers where his father ran a barge service. He graduated from high school at Copper Valley School in Glennallen, and earned a certificate in mineral petroleum technology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Sam worked for Fairbanks Native Association, Doyon, Ltd. and retired from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Sam has extensive knowledge of... Read More
|Alfred "Bear" Ketzler, Jr.||
Alfred "Bear" Ketzler, Jr. was born in 1956 and is the oldest of six children of Delois (Burggraf) and Alfred "Al" Ketzler, Sr. He grew up in Nenana and Fairbanks, Alaska during the 1950s and 1960s when his parents were deeply immersed in the struggle for Alaska Native land claims and passage of the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). He remembers his mother taking her children to meetings, the many visitors who passed through their home and the conversations about Native... Read More
|James "Jim" Kowalsky||
James “Jim” Kowalsky came to Alaska around 1970 when he helped his friend Gordon Wright move to Fairbanks for a teaching job at the University of Alaska. Jim earned a bachelors and masters degree from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and began his career teaching music in public schools and colleges, and played the trumpet in symphony orchestra performances. He had a strong love of nature, the outdoors and interest in conservation, so he was soon involved in Alaska’s burgeoning... Read More
Attorney Mary Nordale was born in 1934 to Katherine and Alton Nordale in Fairbanks, Alaska. She has deep family ties to Fairbanks. Her grandfather, Anton Nordale, built the Nordale Hotel; her father served in the Alaska Legislature; and her mother was clerk of the court in Fairbanks. Mary earned a bachelor's degree from Gonzaga University in 1957 and in 1960 became a staff member in the Washington, D.C. office of Alaska's Senator E. L. "Bob" Bartlett. This gave her a front row seat to the... Read More
Originally from Virginia, Colleen Redman first came to Alaska in 1956 and 1957 for a summer job at the Mount McKinley Park Hotel in what is now Denali National Park. After completing, her bachelor's degree at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, she married and moved to Fairbanks in 1958. She went on to earn a master's degree in social work in 1963. From 1967 to 1973, she coordinated the State of Alaska's boarding home program for rural high school students, started the Community Action... Read More
Irene Sparks Rowan is Tlingit from the village of Klukwan, Alaska. She was born in 1941, and grew up in Klukwan and the nearby community of Haines, Alaska. She earned a teaching degree at Minot State Teachers College in Minot, North Dakota and taught in Bethel, Alaska for three years. She went on to work for the Alaska Federation of Natives, run a public opinion firm in Anchorage, establish her own public affairs company, Kish Tu, Inc., with Susan Ruddy, and was president and then chairman... Read More