Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act Law and Legal Definition

The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act is a U.S. federal law that was enacted on December 23, 1971. It is the largest land claims settlement in U.S. history. The provisions of the Act are found under 43 U.S.C. §§ 1601-1629e. It is often abbreviated as ANCSA. The ANSA establishes an extensive system for settling Alaska Native land claims through transfer of public lands and funds, and includes protection for lands designated for the national parks, wildlife refuges, forests and wild and scenic rivers systems.

ANCSA was enacted as a result of Congress’s finding that there is an immediate need for a fair and just settlement of aboriginal land claims by Natives and Native groups of Alaska, to be accomplished with maximum participation by Natives in decisions affecting their rights and property.

Some important provisions of the ANSA are:

1. Eliminates all aboriginal claims to Alaska lands.

2. Authorizes the transfer of public land and settlement funds to Alaska Natives.

3. Sets up a system of village and regional corporations to select and manage the lands and distribute cash payments.

4. Puts restrictions on selection of lands within the Wildlife Refuge System and directs the Secretary to withdraw from selection up to 80 million acres of unreserved public land suitable for units of the National Park, Forest, Wildlife Refuge, and Wild and Scenic Rivers Systems.