Doyon Lands Part 2: Land Selections to Maximize Ownership in the Yukon Flats
The previous lands story in the July newsletter shed light on how Doyon, Limited’s boundaries were set during the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). Doyon was established on June 26, 1972, under ANCSA, led by the first president John Sackett.
The new board worked closely with villages, land analysts, government agencies, and natural resource industries to choose lands for different values and uses, with the long-term in mind. Original Doyon board member Sam Kito, Jr. shared, “We went to the villages and talked to them about what their land use was.” He explained that the villages “looked at selections patterns and use and occupancy. We provided some information about minerals that may be available but they (villages) eventually made the selections.
There were various land selections that required villages to make independent decisions and some requiring collective agreement. One of those agreements occurred in the mid 1970s for land maximization in the Yukon Flats subregion. Beaver, Fort Yukon, Chalkyitsik, Circle and Birch Creek signed on to coordinate ANCSA land selections with Doyon.
What is land maximization?
These village corporations agreed not to select some lands that Doyon otherwise would have been required to take under ANCSA, which would have resulted in the “checkerboard pattern” (see map). Instead, village corporations selected lands in coordination with Doyon to ensure that a complete land pattern existed around the communities. This is the only area in the Doyon region that has a “maximized” land pattern and not the traditional checkerboard pattern.
The combined approach allocated lands in the Yukon Flats that could have been placed elsewhere. The objective was to enhance Native participation in possible oil and gas development opportunities for the benefit of all shareholders. It also was intended to provide more control of development by Native people and support of subsistence activities by having a larger ownership pattern together between village corporations and Doyon.
It resulted in approximately 400,000 acres of ANCSA land in the Yukon Flats that otherwise would not have been there and could have been allocated across the region near the other 32 villages.
The map shows the community of Birch Creek without the collaborative effort, and after the collaborative effort.