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ANCSA Oral History Recordings

About ANCSA Oral History

Oral history materials arguably form the most exciting element of the ANCSA collection, but they are also the most complicated and difficult to access and use (see Drozda 1995; Pratt 2004). Transcripts and/or translations have not been produced for most oral history tape recordings (which total about 2,000), and many of those that do exist are incomplete or not in "final" form. (Steady progress is being made on this front with tapes from the Calista Region, which is the geographical source of over 60% of the recorded interviews. Comprehensive tape logs and topical indexes exist for just two regions (i.e., Sheppard 2002a, 2002b, 2002c); however, similar documents have been produced for selected tapes from other regions. In all cases, they are useful finding aids to the information contained on the associated recordings

The Recordings

It is important to understand that the comparative lack of completed processing of oral history tapes makes it hard to confidently ascertain which of them might contain culturally sensitive or legally restricted information: this is crucial consideration with respect to the handling of requests for access to oral history materials. To potentially aid in reducing the scope of this problem--and simplify Alaska Natives' future access to these records--the BIA has duplicated and transferred complete sets of ANCSA 14(h)(1) oral history tape recordings (region-by-region) to the relevant Native regional Corporations.

Also included in the oral history component are notes on 500+ interviews that were not tape recorded; some are very brief (e.g., no more than one paragraph long), while others contain multiple pages of text plus associated maps or sketches.  Like the tape recordings, ANCSA interview notes are highly variable in quality and content--but they exist only in written form so are more readily accessible.
(Chasing the Dark, 24-25)

"This will allow us to preserve those places which are important to our past culture and traditions so we, as well as future generations, may know and understand ourselves more completely." (John Borbridge, former Sealaska Corporation President) (Chasing the Dark, 400)

This page was last modified on September 24, 2018