"Eagle River Senator Fred Dyson's recent commentary in the Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska Natives thrived before the coming of the white man," was a surprisingly positive essay from a conservative who often opposes legislation and funding to help rural, generally Native, Alaskans. So "good on" the senator for reminding all Alaskans about the skill and intelligence Native Alaskans have always demonstrated in living here.
It was an enlightening piece as far as it went, but it left the reader wondering if Native people had accomplished anything else worth noting since European contact in 1741. Today Alaska Native people are contributing to Alaska in ways few non-Natives appreciate.
The most significant accomplishment by Native people in modern-day Alaska was the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), the most successful aboriginal land claims settlement in history. The Act allowed the construction of the trans Alaska oil pipeline enabling Alaska's oil and gas industry to thrive, and it created a broad array of successful, Alaska-based, Native-owned companies.
In 2006 the thirteen ANCSA regional corporations and top three village corporations brought $6.965 billion into the Alaska economy as revenue, according to the ANCSA Regional Association's 2006 Economic Report. Fifty-two percent of this revenue came via the federal 8(a) contracting preference program, adding to that all-important one third of the Alaska economy that is driven by federal spending. Across the globe there were 39,746 people working for these sixteen companies,. That total included 5,467 living in Alaska, and 78 percent were not Native."
Get the Story:
Bob Poe: Native contributions to Alaska economy are significant
(The Anchorage Daily News 2/24)
Opinion: Alaska Natives thrived for thousands of
(2/16) Opinion: Staying home in Alaska Native villages
(2/16) Opinion: Only Alaska Natives can