MAY 17, 1884


To provide civil government for Alaska, Congress ignored the fact that the many Native Alaskan peoples had their own forms of government. The Act, nonetheless, assumed authority over them & their lands. While Section 8 of the Act initially provided “[T]hat the Indians . . . shall not be disturbed in the possession of any lands actually in their use or occupation or now claimed by them” it then added that, “the terms under which such persons may acquire title to such lands is reserved for future legislation by Congress . . . .” Further, Section 12 authorized the Secretary of the Interior to create a commission “to examine into and report upon the condition of the Indians residing in [Alaska], what lands, if any, should be reserved for their use, what provision shall be made for their education, what rights by occupation of settlers should be recognized” and all other facts needed to enable Congress to decide what limitations or conditions should be imposed when the land laws of the U.S. are extended to Alaska.

Source: “The 1884 Alaska Organic Act,” ExploreNorth. Retrieved 10/27/2021, The 1884 Alaska Organic Act (
Statute: Act of May 17, 1884, Sec. 53, 48th Cong., 1st Sess., pp. 24-25.  Source: Alaska Digital Archives, An act providing a civil government for Alaska. May 17, 1884. - Alaska State Library-Historical Collections - Alaska's Digital Archives

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