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The political, cultural, and socioeconomic struggles of Alaska's Native peoples have a long and difficult history of local, national, and even international import. In two volumes, Donald Craig Mitchell offers a new level of historical detail in this readable account of the political and legal dimensions of Alaska Native land claims through 1971. Sold American is an account of the history of the federal government's relationship with Alaska's Indian, Eskimo, and Aleut peoples, from the United States' purchase of Alaska from the czar of Russia in 1867 to Alaska statehood in 1959. Mitchell describes how, from eighteenth-century the arrival of Russian sea otter hunters in the Aleutian Islands to the present day, Alaska Natives have participated in the efforts of non-Natives to turn Alaska's bountiful natural resources into dollars, and documents how Alaska Natives, non-Natives, and the society they jointly forged have been changed because of this process. Take My Land, Take My Life concludes that story by describing the events that in 1971 resulted in Congress's enactment of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. Together, these volumes interpret a 134-year history of relations between the federal and state governments and Alaska Natives. Mitchell's story of the rise of new forms of Alaska Native political leadership culminates in the territorial and monetary settlement that, while highly controversial, has provided crucial lessons and precedents for indigenous legal and political actions world wide. Particularly intriguing from his painstaking research in Congressional records are Mitchell's portraits of important players in the Alaska Federation of Natives and the federal government asthey battle for power in subcommittees of Congress. Detailed and provocative, Mitchell's two-volume account of important and controversial Alaska Native land claims is and essential reference in the potent debates about the 1971 settlement that continues to shape the lives of all Alaskans today.
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