It's been more than forty years since the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, or ANCSA, created the twelve Alaska Native regional corporations that now represent shareholders of Alaska Native descent in Alaska and around the world, and since then the companies have emerged as some of the most important players in Alaska's economy.
The act was an unprecedented means of settling land claims between the US government and the Alaska Native people, signed by then-President Nixon in December of 1971. The concept was all about economic development: Through land conveyances and seed money paid by the federal government, Alaska Native shareholders could develop these lands or make investments that would pay dividends and provide other social benefits to shareholders. To this day, shareholders of all twelve regional corporations have elected to keep their companies private, so their shares are not traded on public exchanges and cannot be sold, only willed or gifted.
Since the act's inception, Alaska Native corporations have grown tremendously. Many of the twelve corporations own gleaming office towers that are prominent on the Anchorage skyline and subsidiaries that operate throughout Alaska, the United States, and even abroad. The industries in which the corporations are active are extremely diverse, from oilfield services and construction to tourism development and military contracting.
In 2013, all twelve ANCSA regional corporations were among the state's Top 49ers...