Holding Our Ground
HOLDING OUR GROUND
PROGRAM SERIES and INDIVIDUAL PROGRAM SUMMARIES
(As printed in Alaska Native Magazine, Nov/Dec 1985)
"HOLDING OUR GROUND" is a 15-part
series of half-hour radio documentaries which features the voices
of Alaska Natives
as they struggle for more control over their lives. Land, subsistence.
and sovereignty are the main themes that weave the people and their
cultures together in a timeless continuum that is now threatened.
These programs were aired during the fall of
1985. Western Media's executive producer, Jim Sykes, originally
recorded the hearings
of the Alaska Native Review Commission, (ANRC), on location in
Alaska's remote villages. ANRC Commissioner, Canadian Judge Thomas
R. Berger traveled throughout Alaska to find out how the people
feel about their most basic values and the effects on them by the
Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) of 1971. The result
is Berger's book, Village Journey, and this radio series, "Holding
Our Ground.'' Both reveal a compelling grassroots political movement
which will have far-reaching consequences in Alaska and around
Sykes relies on the people telling their own
stories to Judge Berger as the foundation for the programs, interspersed
interviews and "expert" explanation when needed. Village
people give compelling and eloquent testimony, sometimes in their
own languages, about practical and spiritual matters. Taken separately
each segment provides a glimpse into the various aspects of Native
society affected by ANCSA. Taken together, "Holding Our Ground''
presents an overview of these vital issues by the people themselves.
Sykes was assisted by writer Jeff Berliner, researcher Sue Burrus,
production assistant Gary Peterson, narrator Adeline Raboff, and
several other Natives doing voice-overs.
Uplinks of the series over the Alaska Public
Radio Network satellite began in September . Indications
are that all of Alaska's
15 public stations carried the series. Several commercial stations
covered areas not served by the public network (Seward Peninsula
and some of Interior Alaska). The programs also are being made
available to all public and some commercial stations in the lower
48 and Canada. "Holding Our Ground" has great potential
for educators to use alone or in conjunction with other curriculum
1. The People, the Land, and the
Comprehensive 30-minute survey of the burning issues facing Alaska's Native
community in the second half of this decade. This tour over the vast landscape
of Alaska Native affairs serves as an overview of the topics to be treated
in depth during the other 14 segments.
2. The Land and Sea
The ages-old Native feeling about the land comes across the airwaves like a
fresh breeze. Two starkly different realities are presented—the Native
concept of oneness with the land and the Western notion of land ownership
and development. How do these contrasting philosophies fit the Native in
Way of Life
Far from the political and legal controversies surrounding subsistence, Natives
carry on their traditional subsistence lifestyles. Hear their very personal
descriptions of subsistence, what it is, and what it means to them. An important
aspect of this documentary will be to delve into the mix of subsistence and
it Means to People
Self-determination is the heart of a rising grassroots political movement.
The listener will learn that this quest by Native people to control their own
futures reaches far into the past. And the listener will discover that American
political theory is not as much at odds with the sovereignty movement as one
5. Traditional Councils and Corporate
Who calls the shots in the Native community: A look at power, history, and
decision making. The audience will consider change from the perspectives of
traditional village rule to government and corporate bureaucracies.
6. The Land and the Corporations
Traditional Native lands became corporate assets because the Alaska Native
Claims Settlement Act created profit-making Native corporations to hold the
land. This segment will look at one of the toughest questions facing the
Native community today: "Do these Native corporations have an obligation
to develop their lands to earn a profit for their shareholders, or do they
have an obligation to preserve those lands for subsistence and for generations
7. Risking and Saving the Land
Land owned by Native corporations can be lost through sales, corporate takeover,
bankruptcy, or taxation. This has generated so much concern among Natives
trying to save their land that there are now a number of options to prevent
loss of these lands. This program is an exploration of the major risks and
what alternatives are available.
8 Subsistence and the Law
Carrying on the subsistence lifestyle without interference from the law is
a thing of the past. Traditional ways of hunting fishing, and gathering are
now subject to political and legal changes and challenges in what may well
be Alaska's most bitter controversy. Hear discussion of the new role of Alaska
Natives as treaty-makers and game managers.
9. Sovereignty - How it Works
in Real Life
Local government control is a reality in some areas of Native Alaska. In other
areas Natives are working to implement their own unique forms of self- government.
Some have found self-determination in traditional government. Take a close
look at the communities where sovereignty is becoming a reality.
10. The Newborns—Left
Out of ANCSA
When the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. passed on December 18, 1971,
all those yet to be born were left out. Now thousands of teenagers and toddlers
alike are on the outside of ANCSA looking in. The Native community is divided
into ANCSA shareholders and newborns, and the problems could get worse. Natives
young and old speak out in eloquent terms.
11. From Hunter, Fisher, Gatherer
to Corporate Director
The corporation idea—how and why it was chosen as a vehicle
for land claims. Was this a good way to give Alaska Natives
a piece of the American
dream, or was it a way of assimilating them? This program examines how Natives
have made the transition from traditional life to corporate director or shareholder
the Claims Act—The
Nearly every Native organization in the state is jumping on
do something about ANCSA" idea. What began as grassroots dissatisfaction
with the act has now shifted into a well-organized movement. There is the Inuit
Circumpolar Conference, the United Tribes of Alaska, the Alaska Federation
of Natives, and Association of Village Council Presidents, and others.
13. Recommendations of the Alaska
Native Review Commission
An historic journey by Canadian Judge Thomas R. Berger has culminated in some
provocative recommendations about the options open to Alaska's Natives. Listeners
will hear a cross-section of views about what Berger reported and how this
may affect changes in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.
14. Other Settlements with Indigenous
Peoples Settlement Act
The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act inspired other indigenous peoples in
the world to seek land claims in the settlements with their countries. This
program will look at those efforts in Canada, Greenland, Australia, Norway,
and elsewhere. Now some of the land claims proposals of others are being studied
by Alaskans seeking to improve ANCSA.
15. The Dream versus the Reality
The final segment considers what people wanted all along in land claims and
what they got. Should all the hard work of the past be scrapped? How has
the dream changed? Voices of many people speak of the future, what they want
and how they will go about getting it for themselves and their Children.
16. Special Program--Berger's