Indigenous Latin Americans Look Far North for a Model, by Marcela Sanchez

Monday, July 25, 2005

Some native peoples of the Andes are looking north for a new model of development — but farther north than you might think.

They are not asking for access to micro-enterprise loans or for ways to migrate to richer lands. They are thinking big and talking big money. They are imagining homegrown, for-profit corporations where indigenous people are shareholders and multinationals are business partners. To be exact, they are talking corporate capitalism according to the Alaskan model.

Back in 1971, landmark legislation known as the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) was approved in the U.S. Congress to end a dispute between the state and natives over Alaskan lands, allowing the construction of an 800-mile oil pipeline from the North Slope to the port of Valdez. ANCSA paid native groups nearly $1 billion for lands retained by the state and created 13 regional and more than 170 village for-profit corporations, giving them full rights to 10 percent of the state’s lands, including any resources on or below the surface.

After much trial, error and litigation, Alaskan natives began to realize economic benefits from ANCSA. The number of natives living in poverty has dropped to 18 percent. (A decade before ANCSA, that figure was 67 percent.) Four times more men and 10 times more women had jobs in 2000 than they did 40 years ago, and incomes among the wealthiest natives have grown 157 percent while increasing 242 percent among the poorest.
Story found here.

Source: Washington Post