Title: Institutional innovation in less than ideal conditions: management of commons by an Alaska Native village corporation
Author: Dayo, Dixie; Kofinas, Gary
Source: International Journal of the Commons. 4(1): 142-159
Description: Alaska Natives have experienced less than ideal conditions for engaging in management of their homeland commons. During the first 100 years after the Treaty of Cession of 1867, Alaska Natives received limited recognition by the United States. The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA) was signed into law by President Richard Nixon after tedious negotiations by Alaska Natives, the United States Congress, and special interest groups. As part of the settlement, 12 regional corporations and over 200 village corporations were established to receive fee title to 40 million acres of land and a cash settlement of $962.5 million for lands lost. This arrangement has been considered by some as an act of social engineering to assimilate Alaska Natives into a capitalist economy. In spite of the goal of assimilation, Alaska Natives have utilized ANCSA to strengthen their indigenous identity and revitalize their cultural traditions. This paper examines the innovative efforts of Alaska Natives to successfully manage their commons despite the introduction of new and foreign institutions. Our paper explores the hypothesis that while formal institutions matter, informal institutions have considerable potential to generate innovative solutions that overcome formal institutional shortfalls. We draw on the experiences of Native corporations in several regions of Alaska, with a focus on Bean Ridge Corporation (BRC), the village corporation which owns lands in and around the community of Manley Hot Springs, Alaska. Programs to distribute corporate earnings, address trespassing, and maintain cultural traditions are described.
Keywords: Alaska Natives, Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, land claims, village corporations
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Dayo, Dixie; Kofinas, Gary 2010. Institutional innovation in less than ideal conditions: management of commons by an Alaska Native village corporation. International Journal of the Commons. 4(1): 142-159.