50 Years Of ANCSA: As Early As 1962, Candidates Bill Egan & Ted Stevens Supported Native Alaska Land Claims

COPPER RIVER COUNTRY JOURNAL ANCSA 50th Anniversary Looking Back  Governor Bill Egan & Senator Ted Stevens (Wikipedia photos)  Native La...


ANCSA 50th Anniversary
Looking Back 
Governor Bill Egan & Senator Ted Stevens (Wikipedia photos) 

Native Land Claims Would Carry Out An 1884 Pledge, Ted Stevens Declared – As He First Ran For U.S. Senate 

Fifty years ago this month – on December 18th, 1971, President Richard Nixon signed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act into law. It transferred title of 44 million acres of land to for-profit Native regional corporations and more than 200 for-profit village corporations. 

Ahtna Incorporated, of the Copper Valley, was one of the participating regions. 

When the land claims act was approved, this was the culmination of many years of understanding that settling Native claims was the right thing to do. The topic of Native Land Claims had strong and early support from those running for office in Alaska. 

In 1962, Governor Bill Egan explained his stance to voters: 

1962 Statement By Bill Egan
"I believe that Natives have a legal and moral weight to the possession of lands which they have occupied since time immemorial.... In addition to simple possession, I believe it to be both desirable and necessary that occupants of aboriginal lands receive title to the lands as soon as possible...

That same year, Ted Stevens who was first running for U.S. Senate that year, agreed. He said:

1962 Statement By Ted Stevens
"There is no question, in my opinion that there are 'historic Native land claims.' The problem is that Congress has failed to carry out a pledge made in 1884 that Congress would define the extent and nature of the rights which are the basis of these claims... My position is that (as) Alaska's United States Senator, I will introduce legislation to create an Alaska Native Rights Commission... I believe legislation could be drafted to give Alaskan natives the right to select lands which would be deeded to an Alaska Native Land Corporation, wholly owned by Alaskan natives and managed by them..."

Stevens was a very popular U.S. Senator, and retained his seat from 1968 to 2009. 

(Note: The first U.S. military exploration of the Copper Valley occurred a year after the 1884 pledge Stevens referred to. Lieutenant Henry T. Allen didn't come up the Copper River to Taral and beyond... until 1885.) 


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