Author Archives: Ted Stevens Foundation

Ted Stevens and the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act

The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, more commonly known as ANCSA, became law on December 18, 1971. This legislation settled the legal question of Native land claims within Alaska that had been left unaddressed both when the land was purchased by the United States from Russia in 1867, and again under the Alaska Statehood Act in 1958.

The Settlement eventually resulted in the following:

-The creation of twelve Regional Corporations within Alaska and a thirteenth comprised of Natives who are non-permanent residents of Alaska. This idea originated with the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN).

*The original twelve Corporations were granted land and monetary compensation
*The thirteenth Corporation was granted only monetary compensation

-Native Corporations and approximately 220 Native villages and Regional Corporations were granted title to 44 million acres of land
-Monetary compensation of $462,500,000 paid over an eleven-year period and an additional $500 million in mineral revenues

This legislation was a groundbreaking method for addressing Indigenous land claims and was the first and only of its kind in the United States. It sought to resolve the debate on Native land ownership in Alaska and allowed for the State to finish the land selections it was entitled to under the Alaska Statehood Act.

Senator Stevens was a relatively new member of the US Senate during the debates of ANCSA. He had been sworn in on December 24, 1968 and was immediately thrust into the land claims debate. In a 1991 Tundra Times reflection article, Stevens wrote:

ANCSA was my baptism of fire as a Senator from Alaska…. It didn’t occur to me that some Senators had the opportunity to ease into their jobs. Life in the Senate for me was fast-paced from the beginning…. With my experience working in the Department of the Interior and with the Statehood Act, and my faith in the determination and unity of purpose of Alaska’s Native people, I believed from the beginning that a settlement could be achieved…. My memories of the Congressional action as ANCSA took shape aren’t of a battle as much as they are of long hours of tough, hard negotiating, often two steps forward and one step back… (1)

Senator Ted Stevens, center, poses with from L-R, Morris Thompson (BIA), Eben Hopson (AFN), Stevens, John Borbridge (AFN) and Flore Lekanof (D of Interior) on the Capitol steps July 15, 1970, the day S. 1830, the first version of the Alaska Native Land Claims Bill passed in the Senate. (Subsequently, the House did not act on it.) Stevens Foundation photo.

Given his background, Stevens understood the importance of a settlement originating from, and supported by, Alaska’s Native people. To that end, he worked to ensure that Alaska Native leaders, including AFN representatives Don Wright; Emil Notti; Morris Thompson; Mary Jane Fate; Howard Rock; Alice Brown; Marlene Johnson; Brenda Itta; Lille McGarvey; Frances Degnan; and Willie Hensley, had a seat at the table.

Stevens joined countless other Alaskans involved in the governmental debate such as former governor and then-Secretary of the Interior Wally Hickel; then-Governor Bill Egan; Congressman Nick Begich; and Senator Mike Gravel.

The group was also supported by influential Washington Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson, who ended up sponsoring one of the original ANCSA bills (S. 1830) alongside many other legislators including Stevens and Gravel.

Stevens supported the Settlement proposed by Native leaders, and worked to ensure it solved as many of the long-standing Aboriginal land claim issues as possible. He also supported its aspect of future economic development and self-sufficiency ideals for the Regional Corporations as a means to benefit their shareholders.

ANCSA was a compromise that took years to solidify as law, and amendments have been added numerous times over the past four decades. It is not foolproof, but Alaskans and their legislators have worked hard to address the issues that have arisen over the years and will continue to do so in the future.

For more information, please see:

Hensley, William L. Iggiagruk. Fifty Miles from Tomorrow: a Memoir of Alaska and the Real People. Sarah Crichton Books: 2010.

Jones, Richard S. Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (Public Law 92-203): History and analysis together with subsequent amendments. Report No. 81-127 GOV. 1981-06-01.

Landye, Bennett, Blumstein LLP. ANCSA Resource Center.

Stevens, Ted F. “ANCSA was my baptism of fire.” Tundra Times. A Scrapbook history: Alaska native claims settlement act. 1991. (1)

Ted Stevens Foundation. ANCSA and the Agents of Change oral history project.

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‘Uncle Ted is back’: The story behind the new bronze Ted Stevens statue at the Anchorage airport

Article originally published in the Anchorage Daily News on February 24, 2019.

Author: Marc Lester
Updated: February 25, 2019
Published February 24

Megan Becker, 5, takes a look the statue of her grandfather, Ted Stevens, whom she never had a chance to meet. Becker is the daughter of Lily Stevens Becker, Ted Stevens’ daughter. A bronze statue of Ted Stevens was unveiled during a ceremony at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport on February 23, 2019. Stevens, who died in 2010, served in the U.S. Senate for 40 years. (Marc Lester / ADN)

Ted Stevens resisted the idea that the airport named for him should also bear his likeness when he was alive, his daughter Lily Stevens Becker said. He didn’t care much for the fanfare.

After his death, it took years for the family to get comfortable with the idea of seeing his life-size image cast in bronze.

“But now I think it’s time,” Stevens Becker said.

On Saturday, hundreds surrounded a 631-pound statue of Stevens as it was uncovered at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Some watched from a balcony above. Stevens, who served in the U.S. Senate for 40 years, is depicted seated and relaxed, as if inviting conversation with passers-by at Alaska’s largest airport.

“There’s an expression I tried really hard to capture that is like speaking but almost smiling,” said Joan Bugbee Jackson, the Cordova sculptor who created the piece.

Karina Waller, executive director of the Ted Stevens Foundation, which oversaw the privately funded project, hopes the statue’s high-traffic location will capture attention and educate people about a giant figure in Alaska history. She declined to say what it cost.

“It’d be nice to have something in the airport, not only for Alaskans but for travelers who say, ‘Well, who’s Ted Stevens?’ ” Waller said.

To many Alaskans, Stevens needs no introduction. His decades in the Senate, which began in 1968, made him one of the 10 longest-serving senators in U.S. history. He championed Alaska transportation and infrastructure projects, supported construction of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, protected Alaska commercial fisheries and played key roles in legislation that shaped the state. He was widely known as “Uncle Ted.”

In his farewell speech on the Senate floor in 2008, Stevens said he treasured every moment.

“I feel the same way now that I did in 1968,” he said. “I really must pinch myself to fully understand that I’m privileged to speak on the floor of the United States Senate.”

Stevens died in a plane crash near Dillingham in 2010.

A crowd gathers for the Ted Stevens statue unveiling. (Marc Lester / ADN)
Family and friends of Ted Stevens unveil the statue at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. (Marc Lester / ADN)


When the statue project got underway about two years ago, deciding which Stevens to portray proved a challenge, Waller said. Stevens was famously mercurial, by turns charming and serious, and sometimes Incredible Hulk combative.

Waller, a member of Stevens’ staff from 2002 to 2009, said she originally favored a strong and serious pose of the man she still refers to as “the boss.” Bugbee Jackson said she was captivated by the intensity of a lost-in-thought pose she had seen in a photograph.

Both say they were swayed by the input of Stevens’ widow, Catherine, who suggested an approachable posture for an engaging personality. That input changed the project’s direction.

“I think at the end of the day, you’ll see she was right,” Waller said days before the statue was unveiled.

The statue took about a year and a half to create, Bugbee Jackson said. Her other bronze sculptures in Alaska include the Veterans Monument on the Delaney Park Strip in Anchorage, the Alexander Baranov Monument in Sitka and the Joe Redington Memorial at the Iditarod headquarters in Wasilla.

Artist Joan Bugbee Jackson created the life-size Ted Stevens statue for display at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. (Marc Lester / ADN)


By the time she finished the Stevens project, Bugbee Jackson said she felt like she knew the man well, though they had only met briefly once or twice. She surrounded her Cordova workspace with pictures of Stevens. She listened to stories told by the people who knew him best. She watched videos to study how he used his mouth and the expression in his eyes. She even borrowed his coats and posed friends in them to study their folds.

“I don’t want to just make a shape that looks like somebody. I want to convey something from within them that expresses more of the kind of person they were,” Bugbee Jackson said.

Bugbee Jackson built the statue from a rebar core, shaped with foam, then molded in clay. She paid careful attention to even small details, she said, like the texture of his cowboy boots and the design on his law school ring. Wrinkles on his face, one of the final steps, were carved with a fillet knife, she said.

“I kept him fairly on the young side, which I think he might’ve appreciated,” Bugbee Jackson said.

Waller said it was emotional to see the completed clay sculpture in Bugbee Jackson’s studio before it was shipped to the Valley Bronze foundry in Joseph, Oregon, for casting.

“I walked in, and it’s like ‘There’s the boss,’ ” Waller said.

Karina Waller is executive director of the Ted Stevens Foundation, headquartered in Midtown Anchorage. (Marc Lester / ADN)


Waller said working for Stevens was transformative. She recalls a demanding-but-fair man who instilled confidence in her. His staff learned to be “hyper-prepared,” but got to see a side of him the public didn’t, Waller said. He once gave her a walking cane on her 30th birthday.

“Kind of behind the scenes, most of the time he was more jovial, playful,” Waller said. “Unless you messed up on legislation.”

For some, memories of Stevens may have been complicated by how his final term ended. Days before Election Day in 2008, a jury found him guilty of accepting and failing to report gifts, including renovations to his Girdwood home. Stevens narrowly lost re-election to Democrat Mark Begich.

“I look only forward, and I still see the day when I can remove the cloud that currently surrounds me,” Stevens said in his farewell Senate speech.

Then months later, the Justice Department moved to dismiss the indictment and void the convictions after a new prosecution team discovered exculpatory evidence that hadn’t been turned over to the defense. The judge agreed. Attorney General Eric Holder said he wouldn’t seek a new trial.

Waller said interpretive displays next to the artwork don’t touch on this period, but focus on legislative accomplishments and quotes instead.

“The trial was not his legacy,” Waller said.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who calls herself Stevens’ biggest fan, said the display would be an important reminder of Steven’s impact in a well-chosen location.

“I think he would feel very touched and very honored,” she said.

Rep. Don Young, left, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski share a laugh as they sit with the state of their former congressional colleague Ted Stevens. (Marc Lester / ADN)
Oliver Leavitt speaks to the likeness of his friend Ted Stevens. (Marc Lester / ADN)
Ben Stevens poses next to a statue of his father, Ted Stevens. (Marc Lester / ADN)
Bob Penney poses with fishing poles at the newly-revealed Ted Stevens statue. (Marc Lester / ADN)
The statue of Ted Stevens gets a peck on the cheek from Katherine Gottlieb. (Marc Lester / ADN)


Murkowski, who has been Alaska’s senior senator since Stevens’ final term ended, said she keeps picture buttons of Stevens in her Anchorage and D.C. homes. On difficult days, she can imagine the voice of her friend and mentor telling her to “Get over it, kid.”

Murkowski said Stevens could be fiery, but he could also soften quickly. She’s pleased the statue isn’t an imperious depiction.

“I still can’t think of him without thinking of a little smile,” she said.

Murkowski, U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, U.S. Rep. Don Young and Gov. Mike Dunleavy each spoke before the statue was revealed. Former Govs. Bill Walker, Sean Parnell and Bill Sheffield joined the crowd of invited guests in a central location near where the B and C concourses meet.

Many posed with the statue after the blanket was lifted. Five-year-old twins Megan and Chelsea Becker, granddaughters whom Stevens never had the chance to meet, approached shyly. Young joked the Stevens statue should be made of gold, because bronze was for third place. But the expression of Stevens, he said, was just right.

“I’m going to put him on a ballot. That’s Ted Stevens right there. Exactly Ted Stevens,” Young said.

Catherine Stevens said it was a meaningful moment for her family and for the Ted Stevens Foundation, which is also working to archive and curate Stevens’ official papers for eventual pubic release. She hopes the bench spaces next to the statue will be a special place for Alaskans.

“People can sit there and complain to him, tell him their woes, ask him advice or give him a lecture …” she said.

“He’s here. Uncle Ted is back.”

Catherine Stevens, widow of Ted Stevens, laughs as remarks are given before the statue was revealed. (Marc Lester / ADN)
Artist Joan Bugbee Jackson takes a look at her finished work. (Marc Lester / ADN)
Artist Joan Bugbee Jackson takes a look at her finished work. (Marc Lester / ADN)
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Stevens Audiovisual Collections

Welcome to the first official blog post of the Ted Stevens Foundation! We’ll be using this space to discuss archival happenings and holdings, Foundation events, and items from Senator Stevens’ history in public service.

Today’s post is on the Audiovisual (AV) holdings within the Collection. Though we usually refer to them as the ‘Ted Stevens Papers Collection’ – they’re actually much more than that. The Stevens Collection consists of:

    • Over 4,000 boxes of paper documents
    • Over 9,000 AV items (also known as our ‘Media Series’)
    • Over 2,500 memorabilia objects (these include everything from campaign items to awards to artworks collected by the Senator over his 40 years in office)
    • And tens of thousands of photographs (both analog and born-digital formats)

Our Media – AV Series alone holds a variety of formats which all come with their own difficulties and archival processing challenges. A number of our formats are considered ‘obsolescent’ at this time, which means that the format is either no longer produced and/or that the technology or machinery needed to playback the media is also no longer produced or easily available.

This makes the archiving and preservation process even more of a challenge as a lot of the formats are not playable in their current analog form, but it also means that digitizing them is very difficult and cost-prohibitive. Not only can we not be 100% sure of what exactly is on the media as we have to trust the sometimes vague labels and we cannot play it back to verify content, but we are also facing the reality that the older machines used to play and digitize the materials are breaking down and digitizing is becoming more expensive by the day.

Some of the formats contained within our AV collection are:

    • 8mm, 16mm, and 35mm Film
    • Audio Reels – ¼” and 1”
    • 2” Quad Video Tape
    • 45 rpm Vinyl Records
    • Floppy Disks – 3.5” and 5.25”
    • Multiple Tape Formats: Betacam and Betamax, U-matic, VHS
    • Compact Discs (CDs)
    • DVDs and Blu-rays (most of these are copies of the older formats and were created by UAF)

Many of these formats are practically unknown to today’s younger generations, and many are considered ‘obsolete’ due to the above stated concerns.

You can see some of our film/video formats pictured below: 16 mm film; Betcam SP; 2” Quad Tape; EIAJ-1 Film; Betamax; and U-matic.

And the audio formats shown below are: Vinyl Record; ¼” Audio Reel; Dictabelt; and an Edison Voicewriter Disc.

Also shown is the older version of the floppy disk that measures a whopping 5.25” and is actually ‘floppy’. We also have some of more common later versions – the 3.5” hard plastic (not really that floppy) floppy disk. Though these are not technically ‘audiovisual’ materials – we do store them alongside the AV items as they require similar storage conditions and are not suitable for storage alongside the paper documents.

Our plans for our audiovisual materials are to continue digitizing our rarer content as well as the formats that are becoming more cost-prohibitive and difficult to digitize as time goes on. Our goal is to provide access and usability for our collection upon its opening to the public, and that is especially important when it comes to our AV items as their current formats do not provide ease of access or usability.

Since Stevens was a U.S. Senator for 40 years, we have audiovisual items dating all the way back to the 1960s – and it is especially important to preserve these items for our state’s history and for the Senator’s legacy, as many of the items are unique and not available elsewhere.

You can help us preserve the Senator’s legacy and our collection by donating to the Foundation today.

You can also view some of our digitized audiovisual items online by visiting our video gallery at:

You can learn more about some of the formats mentioned above at the following webpages from the “Museum of Obsolete Media”:
Voicewriter Discs

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Alaska Delegation Press Release – USS Ted Stevens Announcement

                                                                  January 4, 2019

CONTACTS:  Mike Anderson (Sullivan); Hannah Ray (Murkowski); Pamela Day (Young)

Delegation Applauds Secretary of the Navy’s Decision to Name Future Destroyer After Senator Ted Stevens

WASHINGTON, DC – The Alaska Congressional Delegation today proudly announced that Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer has named a future Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer in honor of the late U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, who served as Alaska’s Senator from 1968-2009.

“It is an honor to help Secretary Spencer announce the naming of the USS Ted Stevens today,” said Senator Sullivan. “As an Army Air Corps officer, a civil servant, and a historic U.S. Senator from our great state, Senator Stevens remains one of the shining examples of public service to our nation. We Alaskans affectionately called him ‘Uncle Ted.’ However, before he was our U.S. Senator, Senator Stevens bravely flew missions behind enemy lines in the Pacific Theater during WWII, supporting the now famous ‘Flying Tigers.’  I can think of no more fitting tribute than to name DDG-128, a powerful Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, after Ted Stevens. May this ship bearing his name continue his remarkable legacy for decades to come and may her crew gain inspiration for their missions from one of our country’s truly great men.”

“During WWII, Senator Stevens earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Yuan Hai Medal, and the Air Medal for his selfless and brave service as an Army Air Corps pilot. In addition to his notable military career, Senator Stevens was a public servant, a mentor, and a dear friend whose dedication and commitment to Alaska was nothing short of extraordinary,” said Senator Murkowski. “I commend Secretary Spencer and the U.S. Navy for naming a future Arleigh Burke-class Destroyer, the USS Ted Stevens, in his honor—a remarkable acknowledgement of the service, sacrifice, and life of our Uncle Ted.”

“The Arleigh Burke-class of destroyers is one of the toughest and most capable warfighting tools our Nation produces, characteristics which also define my dear friend, the great Senator Ted Stevens,” said Congressman Young. “It is my honor to join my Senate colleagues and Secretary Spencer in announcing the naming of an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer as the USS Ted Stevens. From his service as a pilot in the Pacific Theater during WWII flying over the Hump, to his fierce advocacy for Alaska and our Nation, Ted always exemplified American patriotism. He dedicated much of his adult life in service to our Nation, and I hope that this ship continues to embody his legacy and its name gives her crew the inspiration needed to fulfill her missions.”

Background (information provided by U.S. Navy):

Arleigh Burke-class destroyers conduct a variety of operations from peacetime presence and crisis response to sea control and power projection. The future USS Ted Stevens (DDG 128) will be capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously, and will contain a combination of offensive and defensive weapon systems designed to support maritime warfare, including integrated air and missile defense and vertical launch capabilities.

The ship will be constructed at Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Ingalls shipbuilding division in Pascagoula, Miss.. The ship will be 509 feet long, have a beam length of 59 feet and be capable of operating at speeds in excess of 30 knots.

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Honoring Ted Stevens


Today is a special day in Alaska’s history. Fifty years ago, on Christmas Eve in 1968, Gov. Wally Hickel appointed a young veteran and attorney named Ted Stevens to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate. That proved to be an exceptional choice, and a great man would go on to become one of the longest-serving Republican senators of all time, the “Alaskan of the Century,” and a beloved icon all across our state.

To be sure, even before Ted came to the Senate, he had already played a key role in shaping Alaska’s future. Working at the Department of the Interior under then-Secretary Fred Seaton, Ted helped convince Congress to admit Alaska to the union. After returning to his adopted home, he served in our state Legislature, where he was chosen to be House majority leader.

Alaska was different back then. The early years of statehood weren’t easy for us. A federal freeze had led to a halt on permits for the use of federal land. Foreign fishing fleets were decimating fish stocks just miles from our shores. Mail service was sporadic and undependable. Most rural Alaskans lived in poverty, with access to few medical doctors and only “honey buckets” for sanitation.

Decades later, Alaska has come a long way. And while that is due to the tireless work of thousands of individuals, perhaps no one did more to improve our state and shape its future than the man whose memory we celebrate today.

During his time in the Senate, Ted lived by a simple motto: “To hell with politics, do what’s right for Alaska.” And no matter what issue came before the chamber, he always did exactly that.

In 1971, he helped shape the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, which settled most outstanding land claims for Alaska Natives and provided new opportunities for economic development.

A few years later, he ensured Senate passage of a bill authorizing the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, unlocking our vast reserves on the North Slope, establishing a foundation for our state economy, and enabling the creation of the Permanent Fund that provides annual dividends to our residents.

Another major achievement was a broad fisheries law that Ted worked on with a colleague from Washington, and which today bears their names as the Magnuson-Stevens Act, protecting and sustaining our marine resources within the 200-mile limit.

As an appropriator, Ted worked with the Alaska delegation to steer much needed resources to our still-young state, helping to build critical infrastructure, provide essential air service to remote communities, and generally improve our quality of life.

Through their work, along with the work of many others, most Alaskans now enjoy a modern communications system. More than 170 rural communities have health aides. Modern sewer and water systems serve more and more Alaskans every day. A network of transportation systems ties Alaskans together, and bypass mail helps keep postage rates down.

Ted also made his mark at the national level. He was a staunch proponent of our armed forces and national defense. He advanced telecommunications policy. And his legacy also includes a number of measures that he is not always associated with, including Title IX for women’s equality in sports, the Amateur Sports Act, and the reauthorization of a program that provides funding for physical education.

I was honored to intern for Ted and to later serve alongside him in the Senate. He was both a mentor and a dear friend. He was also a remarkable leader whose dedication and commitment to our state was nothing less than extraordinary. He loved Alaska. He never failed to go to the mat for us, often while wearing his iconic Hulk tie. And it is clear that without him, Alaska would be a much different place.

It is often said that we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. As we mark the 50th anniversary of his appointment to the Senate, we recognize that we stand much higher today because of Sen. Ted Stevens and his tremendous work for Alaska.

Anchorage Daily News

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

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