This collection consists of research documents originally accumulated from various sources by Rep. Mary Kapsner of Bethel, former Representative of the 38th and 39th Districts in the Alaska House of Representatives from 1999-2009, that document a host of important legal issues of great importance to Alaska Native communities. Upon leaving public office, Kapsner donated these papers to the Juneau Alaska Law Library. Approximately ten years later, in 2013 the Alaska Law Library offered them to Sealaska Heritage Institute Archives.
Although the collection largely predates Kapsner’s elected terms, does not document Kapsner directly, or contain her personal or written papers, it does contain documents she presumably used and received to stay informed of legal issues that Alaska Natives discussed at the civic, state, and federal level. These documents include: correspondence between state and federal agencies, state and non-governmental agencies, both Native Alaskan and non-Native, as well as copies of lawsuits and legislation, excerpts from the Alaska Constitution, and press clippings.
The overarching issue documented in the papers in this collection concerns the Alaska Native Interest Land Conservation Act (ANILCA), Title VIII: which raises the question of who manages the natural resources that are to be used primarily for food; should it be the federal government, the state government or Alaska Natives? Within this overarching theme are three major issues, which include 1.) Subsistence; 2.) Tribal Status; and 3.) Indian Country. These papers document the ongoing moratorium instituted by the federal government against the State of Alaska due to the State’s purported failure to produce a workable solution for state management of subsistence-related resources. The importance of these documents and the subjects they cover cannot be underestimated as federal, state and Alaska Native agencies and organizations continued–and still continue–the efforts to address the legal issues of ownership and management of Alaska natural resources that were first addressed in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANSCA) of 1971.