Why does Sen. Akaka support Oil drilling in ANWR? Part I
by Bob Schacht, Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 12:18:49 AM EDT
The Alaskan situation is complicated because the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 USC 1601-1624) -- Public Law 92-203, approved December 18, 1971 (85 Stat. 688) is very different from other Native American settlements. Rather than providing for "reservations" of natural landscapes, it provided for autonomous Village "Corporations." These can join together like a series of chain stores into a "regional corporation," like the Arctic Slope Regional Corp (ASRC) [http://www.asrc.com/], if they want to. The members of such a Corporation are described not as "citizens" but as "shareholders," and their leaders are not called governors but "executives." The whole deal was put together by government officials who thought that Alaska Natives should run themselves like small businesses rather than like communities, counties, or states.
By setting up Native corporations instead of Indian reservations, Congress sought to avoid the troubles associated with reservations and their attendant poverty, alcoholism and despair.Of course, this is a false analysis: poverty, alcoholism and despair were not caused by reservations! The proof of this is that Native American communities without any land base are worse off in these respects than those that have reservations. But I digress.
( Hunter/gatherers to capitalists, 1999 )
This alien "capitalist" form of government was imposed on isolated Arctic hunting and fishing communities a mere 35 years ago. The Native population of Alaska was not enthusiastic about this idea ["Corporations are not tribes!" by Patricia Wade. Indian Country Today, Posted: April 22, 2003.] An assessment conducted in 1998 [http://www.alaskabyship.com/between/] found that urban Natives have done relatively well, but rural Natives have fared poorly - and the village where the drilling would take place certainly qualifies as rural!
[To be continued]