The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act:
Impacts on Alaska Native communities

Recordings and resources from the third of four virtual briefings that address the theme, Indigenous Leadership: Ensuring a Future for Native Peoples, Cultures, and Lands.

The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act: Impacts on Alaska Native Communities

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

In all of Native American affairs in the United States, the relationship between Alaska Native communities and the federal government is one of the least understood by the mainstream. The passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA) created a new structure and relationships, distinct from the reservation system of the Lower 48. In this briefing, Joe Nelson (Tlingit) will discuss the situation leading up to the passage of the ANCSA, the structures it created, and how Alaska Native leaders responded. Then, Nicole Borromeo (Athabaskan) will describe the contemporary landscape of ANCSA and considerations for the future.

“I more clearly understand history of Alaska Natives and their rights now. I was impressed with both the speakers and appreciate topics that make me think more deeply about Tribal sovereignty over time.” – ANCSA Briefing attendee

Download the transcript

Recommended resources


Reflections on the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act with Dr. Emil Notti
KTOO, February 2020 (1:08:54)

ANCSA at 50
Alaska Public Media (00:55:22)


Suggested readings

ANCSA Public Law 92-203
December 18, 1971



Alaska Federation of Natives

ANCSA Regional Association

Sealaska Corporation

Sealaska Heritage Institute

Seacoast Trust

Sustainable Southeast Partnership



Alaska Native Peoples & Languages
Includes village locations
Size of Alaska in comparison to the Lower 48
Alaska Native Regional Corporations
Landownership in Alaska


Making a difference: Native-led nonprofits

We encourage you to learn more about and consider contributing to these nonprofits in Alaska.

Alaska Federation of Natives
Anchorage, AK |

First Alaskans Institute
Anchorage, AK |

Sealaska Heritage Institute
Juneau, AK |

Seacoast Trust
Juneau, AK |

Spruce Root Community Development

About our speakers

Nicole Borromeo is the executive vice president and general counsel of the Alaska Federation of Natives. AFN’s membership includes 168 federally recognized tribes, 166 village corporations, 8 regional corporations, and 12 regional nonprofit and tribal consortiums that contract and compact to run federal and state programs. Ms. Borromeo received her law degree from University of Washington School of Law and is a Doyon shareholder.

Joe Nelson is the current board chair of Sealaska, a for-profit Alaska Native corporation owned by more than 23,000 Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian shareholders. A former commercial fisherman and an attorney by profession, Mr. Nelson works with Sealaska’s leadership and stakeholders to strengthen Alaska Native communities, culture, and land. Mr. Nelson also serves as the co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN), the largest statewide Native organization working to enhance and promote the cultural, economic, and political voice of the Alaska Native community.

Top image: Mount Denali on a late September day, by Patrick Federi. Images of the briefings speakers, courtesy of the speakers.