24 Am. Indian L. Rev. 421 (1999-2000)
The De Facto Termination of Alaska Native Sovereignty: An Anomaly in an Era of Self-Determination

handle is hein.journals/aind24 and id is 433 raw text is: THE DE FACTO TERMINATION OF ALASKA NATIVE
SOVEREIGNTY: AN ANOMALY IN AN ERA OF SELF-
DETERMINATION
Benjamin W. Thompson*
Introduction
Chefornak is a village of two hundred Eskimos, on the edge of the
Bering Sea. I arrived on the day the people had met to consider
the adoption of a written tribal constitution. Discussion went on
in Yup ik for an afternoon. Their sense that a tribal government
is best for them was manifest, for they consider that neither a
municipal form of government nor a corporation suits their needs.
They want Native political institutions. They are talking about
sovereignty.'
Thomas Berger made these observations in the findings of the Alaska Native
Review Commission published in 1985 The Inuit Circumpolar Conference
and the World Council of Indigenous Peoples appointed Berger in 1983 to
conduct the commission in order to review the Alaska Native Claims
Settlement Act of 1971' (ANCSA),' which Congress enacted in order to settle
aboriginal land claims in Alaska? The settlement provided for state-chartered
corporations to hold and administer 44 million acres of land and disburse
almost one billion dollars in compensation to Alaska Natives.' The Alaska
Native Review Commission's mission focused on gaining the perspective of
Alaska Natives This took Berger to Chefornak and many other Alaska Native
*Clerk to the Honorable John F. Wright, Nebraska Supreme Court. J.D., 2000, University of
Iowa College of Law; B.S., 1997, University of Nebraska at Omaha.
1. THOMAS R. BERGER, VILLAGE JOURNEY, THE REPORT OF THE ALASKA NATIVE REviEw
COMMlssbON 137 (1985).
2. Id. at vii.
3. 43 U.S.C. §§ 1601-1628 (1994).
4. BERGER, supra note 1, at vii.
5. 43 U.S.C. § 1601 (1994).
6. Id. §§ 1605, 1611.
7. BERGER, supra note 1, at vii. Different terms will be used throughout this Article in
reference to particular groups of native inhabitants. While acknowledging the erred historical basis
for the term Indian and the possible racist connotations of Native, this Article will
nevertheless use both in an effort to distinguish between various native inhabitants. For purposes
of this discussion, Indian or American Indian refers to the original inhabitants of the lower
48 states, Alaska Natives refers to Alaskan Indians, Eskimos, and Aleuts, and Native
Americans shall refer to both American Indians and Alaska Natives. Indians and Indian
Tribes are used in the discussion of constitutional mention for ease of identification with specific

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