Prof. Grant Christensen1

1University of North Dakota School of Law, Grand Forks, United States

Alaska Native Corporations are their own unique entity. Freed from many American constraints, including even strict compliance with the U.S. Constitution, Alaska Native Corporations have developed ownership structures and models for governance which take into account the need for sustainable development of everything from subsurface minerals to the conservation of wildlife. These corporations limit shareholder consolidation, require community participation in development decisions, restrict voting rights to long term shareholders to focus board decisions on sustainability instead of encouraging exploitative growth, and are specifically directed to make decisions taking into the Arctic ecosystem and the risks presented by climate change.

My paper looks at how ANCSA helped bring about Alaska Native Corporations and explains how using indigenous law and reconceptualization of both ‘the corporation’ and ‘the shareholder’ – Alaska Native Corporations may provide a model for other Arctic actors to both promote development and sustainability of Arctic resources.

Departing from assumptions baked into common and civil legal traditions, to embrace chthonic or authochthonous thinking about corporations and sustainability, has the ability to change the approaches taken to resource extraction and conservation across the Arctic region.


Grant Christensen is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of North Dakota where he also serves as the Director of the Indian Law Certificate Program, is an Affiliated Associate Professor of American Indian Studies, and is a member of the Sustainable Market Actors Network through the University of Oslo. He is also an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. He holds an LLM in Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy from the University of Arizona and a JD from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

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