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Alaskan Neo-Liberalism Conservation, Development, and Native Land Rights

Sandhya Ganapathy

Keywords: Alaska; land exchange; native corporations; neo-liberalism; oil development; Yukon Flats

This article draws attention to the ways that Alaskan Native sovereignties and economies are increasingly driven by market-rational logics. I examine a proposed land exchange between the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Alaska Native Doyon Corporation that would enable Doyon to pursue oil development ventures on lands exchanged out of the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge. This plan was made possible due to uneven political and structural relationships created through Native land claims legislation in Alaska, as well as shifts in federal land management policies that have made land more easily exchangeable and developable. These structural inequalities and shifts in state policy have laid the groundwork for neo-liberal development schemes that are pursued in the name of Alaskan Native communities and economies but are also often at their expense.

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