Our strongest ties to our culture and history come through the land and natural resources that have supported our people and provided them the basic necessities throughout time. Koniag’s land department recognizes the importance of the land and strives to balance necessary development with preservation.
Throughout the many struggles Alaska Natives have endured, it has always come back to the land. The land was – and still is for many – essential to their cultures. The loss of land led to the creation of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). ANCSA is often interpreted as giving Alaska Natives land, when what it really did was allow Alaska Natives to retain some of the land they had traditionally occupied and subsisted on.
Koniag holds title to approximately 123,000 acres of surfaces estate and 900,000 acres of subsurface estate. Surface estate is defined as land on the surface, excluding minerals, oil and gas, and sand and gravel. Subsurface estate is all or a variety of minerals, oil and gas, and sand and gravel. Most of Koniag’s surface estate is on the west side of Kodiak Island, near the Sturgeon and Karluk Rivers. The Kodiak Island village corporations also received title to surface estate through ANCSA, scattered throughout Kodiak and Afognak Islands, and much of Koniag’s subsurface holdings are for those lands.
Aluttiq people have, for centuries, depended on the land for livelihood and identity. The land provides food, shelter and resources for tools, weapons, transportation and more. It is also our legacy – who we are, where we came from, where we belong. Koniag’s staff and board of directors recognize the importance of this connection.
But the land must also be viewed as an economic resource. A for-profit corporation cannot maintain a resource that doesn’t provide some gain to its financial situation. The question then becomes “Should the land provide financial gain for only the current generation, or should it provide a continuous source of opportunity for future generations?”
Koniag believes our commitment is to current and future Shareholders. Koniag is working very hard to find ways to generate profit from the lands that can sustain many generations of shareholders with respect to preserving our lands to ensure our subsistence rights are protected. Forsaking future generations for only the present by selling or mistreating our land could sever the important ties all Shareholders have with the land.