Long-Term Relationships: Regional and village corporations in mutually beneficial land, resource agreements.

Author:Orr, Vanessa

The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) was passed in 1971. establishing 12 regional corporations and more than 200 village corporations throughout the state. And while the act required that regional corporations and village corporations share possession of their traditional lands and the resources harvested from them, a number of these entities have chosen to partner in other ways as well.

In some cases, regional corporations have provided education and training to members of village corporations so that they could gain ground in specific business areas, such as the federal contracting arena. Other times, they have assisted village corporations when their communities were in need or when they required the support or backing of an entity with more resources. Working together, both types of corporations provide scholarships to shareholders and their descendants and job opportunities through shareholder hire programs.

Sharing the Land

Through ANCSA, village corporations generally own surface rights to the lands they were granted and regional corporations own the subsurface estate, including mineral rights. Because of that, natural resource projects require communication and coordination between the corporations, even beyond ANCSA's 7(i) and 7(j) natural resource revenue sharing requirements.

"It is inherent in ANCSA that village corporations work alongside regional corporations," explains Cameron Poindexter, president and CEO of Choggiung, the village corporation for Dillingham. "While we own the surface resources of our land, Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC) owns the subsurface resources. We allow access to subsurface resources--currently only gravel and rock underneath our surface holdings--and they contract with us to manage that resource for them. We share royalties from sales."

Calista Corporation has a similar relationship with village corporations in its region. "Calista contracts with parties that want to purchase sand and gravel, and then pays a share from those sales to the village corporations that own the land surface," explains Mary Martinez, land planner for Calista. "It is payment for extraction of materials and access to its lands."

The ties of subsurface and surface land management allow all entities in-region to benefit even when a corporation partners with a non-ANCSA entity.

For example, Calista and Knik Construction Co. partnered to form joint venture Nunalista, a heavy equipment construction company...

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