The discovery of oil on the Northern slope of Alaska in 1968 led to the largest land claim settlement in U.S. history. The vision was the build a pipeline that went from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez. From Valdez, the oil would be sent to the lower 48 on tanker ships. Because of the money that could be made, an agreement needed to be reached on a federal level and Alaska Natives played a vital role.
In 1971, Congress passed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, often referred to as ANSCA. Through ANCSA, 12 regional corporations were established and land titles were transferred to these corporations as well as over 200 village corporations. This would ensure that the land belonged to the native people of the state of Alaska. Each person who was at least ¼ Alaska Native would become a shareholder in one of the 12 native corporations shown below.
Alaska is filled with natural resources and the ANCSA corporations benefit financially. However, some corporations have land with little to no natural resources that could generate profits for the company. Because the land claim was meant to serve all Alaska Native people, instead of having a “luck of the draw” separation of corporations; a provision was put into the agreement, section 7(i).
7(i) states the following: “Seventy per centum of all revenues received by each Regional Corporation from the timber resources and subsurface estate patented to it pursuant to this Act shall be divided annually by the Regional Corporation among all twelve Regional Corporations organized pursuant to this section according to the number of Natives enrolled in each region pursuant to section 5. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to the thirteenth Regional Corporation if organized pursuant to subsection (c) hereof.”
What this basically means is that each of the corporations keeps 70% of their natural resource revenues and then splits the remaining 30% among the other 12 regional corporations. This money is commonly known as incoming 7(i) money.
7(j) further distributes those profits to the village corporations. In the ANCSA agreement, section 7(j) states the following:
“During the five years following the enactment of this Act, not less than 10% of all corporate funds received by each of the twelve Regional Corporations under section 6 (Alaska Native Fund), and under subsection (i) (revenues from the timber resources and subsurface estate patented to it pursuant to this Act), and all other net income, shall be distributed among the stockholders of the twelve Regional Corporations. Not less than 45% of funds from such sources during the first five-year period, and 50% thereafter, shall be distributed among the village corporations in the region and the class of stockholders who are not residents of those villages, as provided in subsection to it. In the case of the thirteenth Regional Corporation, if organized, not less than 50% of all corporate funds received under section 6 shall be distributed to the stockholders.”
This means that whatever funds are received under section 7(i), 50% goes to the village corporations in that region. The remaining 50% of 7(i) money stays with the regional corporation to be used at the company’s will. Calista Corporation, the regional corporation that serves western Alaska, currently has a policy to invest part of that money to generate a fund large enough to distribute a second annual dividend. This is not a requirement of the fund, nor is it what all Regional Corporations do.
It is my belief that a new guideline be added to the Act. One that states that all Regional Corporations are required to use 25% to fund educational/career advancement programs as well as programs that better the environment. This would force all Regional Corporations to be more socially and environmentally responsible.