Introduction to Tribal Concepts
Sovereignty in Alaska
A Different Relationship
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There are over 220 federally recognized Alaska Native tribes. Controversy continues to surround the status of Alaska Native villages, their authority, and their lands. The relationship of the federal government with Alaska Natives has differed significantly from that of the Indian tribes of the lower 48 states.
The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA) extinguished the aboriginal title to all lands within the state, eliminated two of three Indian reservations, and provided funds and lands to corporations, the shareholders of which would be Alaska Natives. Unlike many of the tribal lands in the lower 48 states, these lands were not taken into trust status by the U.S. government. Placing them into a corporate model of ownership affected the ability of Alaska Native tribes to exercise territorial jurisdiction over those lands. ANSCA did not, however, terminate tribal governments or their inherent sovereign authority to govern their tribal members.