The Alaska Native Regional Corporations (Alaska Native Corporations or ANCSA Corporations) established in 1971 after the United States Congress passed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). This act settled land and financial claims made by the Alaska Natives and provided for the establishment of 13 regional corporations to administer those claims.
The regional and village corporations now owned by Alaska Native people through privately owned shares of corporation stock. Alaska Natives who were at ANCSA's enactment on December 17, 1971 and enrolled in a native association (at the regional and/or village level) received 100 shares of stock in the respective corporation.
In 2006, the 109th Congress passed S.449 that amended ANCSA and allowed shares issued easily to those who had missed the enrollment. This included those who were born after the enrollment period by reducing the requirement for voting from a majority of shareholders to a majority of attending shareholders at corporation meetings.
During the 1970s, ANCSA regional and village corporations selected land in and around native villages in the state in proportion to their enrolled populations. Village corporations own the surface rights to the lands they selected, while regional corporations own the subsurface rights of both their selections and of those of the village corporations.
The Act lays out the specifics of the corporations' status. Here is an excerpt of the relevant portion.
43 U.S.C. § 1606
(a) For purposes of this chapter, the State of Alaska divided into twelve geographic regions, with each region composed as far as practicable of Natives having a common heritage and sharing common interests by the Secretary within one year after December 18, 1971. This includes an area of region commensurate with operations of the native association, boundary disputes, and arbitration.