Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

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ANCSA Signed Headline.jpgHonoring 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.

ASL-P33-95_small.jpgIn 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.

People

DeLois Burggraf DeLois Burggraf

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

Jim Kowalsky 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

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