Alaska native corportations (ANC) were formed when Congress passed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 in response to a rise in native activism and pressure from oil companies to smooth the path for a trans-Alaska pipeline after oil was discovered in 1968.
The act allotted 40 million acres of land for division among 12 regional native corporations and 220 village corporations. The law was intended to settle longstanding land claims by Alaska natives and provide economic opportunities.
Alaska natives and descendants born before 1971 were allowed to receive 100 shares in their village corporation and regional corporation.
There were originally twelve Alaska regional corporations. In 1975, a 13th corporation formed to represent Alaska natives residing outside the state of Alaska.
Over the years, some village corporations merged with each other or with their regional corporation. Today there are 198 village corporations, according to the Alaska Division of Banking and Securities.
In 1986, Congress passed legislation that allowed ANCs to participate in the Small Business Administration’s disadvantaged business program, known as the 8(a) program, which sets aside federal contracts for minority-owned or other disadvantaged companies.
With strong advocacy from Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, Congress later extended to ANCs additional special 8(a) benefits, such as the ability to win no-bid contracts for any amount and to own multiple subsidiaries in the program. Other participants do not have those advantages.