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The Culture Shock of ANSCA - An Alaskan Act

Our adaptation to the legal climate

December 18, 1971, twelve years after statehood, an answer was given to the question on how to implement the Trans-Alaska Pipeline project and settle the outcry for the aboriginal claims to the lands of the indigenous peoples of America’s most northern state. It was presented in the form of the Alaskan Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). The words spoken in the response detailed 44 million acres of quality Alaskan land, deeded and conveyed to over 200 corporations that were setup to represent the villages and the 12 newly formed regional corporations in Alaska, one corporation to represent Alaskan Native outside of Alaska, and $962 million to nearly 80,000 Natives.

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How Do You Change the Course of the Climate?

The climate is a big component of the earth as a living organism. It encompasses the statistical variations of temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, precipitation, atmospheric particle count and other meteorological elemental measurements in a given region over long periods. It has taken a long time, in terms of human life cycle years, for man to change the climate. How do we steer it back on track toward acceptable levels? Nothing in my life as one to inherit the earth from the older generations has led me to believe that it is done in a matter of days, or even years. Most change that has affected my people has taken generations. Real change does happen in one generation, but the change that we have looked for and require takes generations.

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Climate Change is Real

My name is Steven Holley. I am an Alaskan Native. In 1986, I was born in south central Alaska, in my village of Tyonek. Since November 1986, many things have changed in my environment. Buildings are bigger, in my generation my people have become more connected to the outside world with the internet; digital machines are thoroughly integrated in my Native life, and today is warmer than yesterday. I am not a meteorologist. I didn’t go to a school to develop the ability to monitor data on the weather and interpret what it is doing. I grew up watching the climate to gauge my day’s activities, and steady day-by-day observation to understand how this year has changed from last year. To stand on the bluffs of my home and feel a wind from the east and slightly from the north means it’s a Turnagain Arm wind, a strong wind that creates rough waters. This means don’t leave your fishing net in the inlet, because the rough waters can tangle and tear it up. A smooth beach in the morning indicates rough waters over the night. Low clouds means precipitation in the air wants to be let out onto the land. This is valuable information to know, since water from the sky (snow or rain) creates different settings. I learned these things from my family and our interaction with the land that our people have known since we first came to these lands all those thousands of years ago.

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