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Maida - Chapter 02

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Alaska Native Corporations and Subsistence

Paradoxical Forces in the Making of Sustainable Communities

In America's largest state, Alaska, the environment is not an issue but the issue. This is clearly reflected in the state's conflicted material and symbolic status as "the last frontier," which brands it as both an unspoiled wilderness for preservation and a land of vast untapped resources for industrial development. Somewhere between the wilderness preservationists, whose influence has helped make Alaska a land of parks, preserves, and tourism, and the industrial developers, whose power has shaped Alaska's natural resource-based economy, dwell Alaska Natives, who historically have sought sustainable relationships with the lands they have inhabited for centuries, if not millennia. Today, Alaska Native economies are pushed from both sides.

On the one hand, Alaska Natives have been transformed into "corporate Indians," shareholders in business corporations created by the U.S. Congress to help them manage real estate and monies awarded through land claims. On the other hand, Alaska Native rural, noncommercial or subsistence economies are also protected by federal law. When the state's Native (Indian, Eskimo, and Aleut) communities were reengineered from small-scale subsistence-oriented economies into for-profit corporations by the landmark Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) of 1971, many predicted that corporate capitalism would swallow their cultures and assimilate them into the mainstream American economy and society. Thirty years after the advent of this experiment, we are in a better position to assess this prediction. Indeed, ANCSA has been an unprecedented experiment not only in social engineering among aboriginal peoples but also in corporate engineering, for ANCSA corporations differ from common capitalist corporations in important ways.

Alaska Native Corporations and SubsistenceParadoxical Forces in the Making of Sustainable CommunitiesThomas F. ThorntonIn America's largest state, Alaska, the environment is not an issue but the issue. This is clearly reflected in the state's confli
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