In response to a rise in native activism in Alaska and pressure from oil companies who discovered oil in 1968 who wanted to smooth the path for a trans-Alaska pipeline, Congress passed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971. This law was intended to provide economic opportunities and settle longstanding land claims by Alaska natives. Alaska natives and their descendants that were born before 1971 became Alaska native shareholders of 100 shares each in their own Alaska native corporation, also created by this same law. This act alloted 40 million acres of land in Alaska to be divided among 12 regional native corporations. Each one is known as an Alaska native corporation. Along with 12 regional native corporations, there were also 220 village corporations created from this law.
The 13th corporation to represent Alaska natives residing outside the state was formed in 1975. Other village corporations merged with each other or with their regional corporation and today there are 198 village corporations. In 1986, Congress passed legislation that allowed the Alaska native corporations to participate in the disadvantaged business program of the Small Business Administration with an additional advantage of having the ability to win no-bid contracts, no matter the amount, and to own multiple subsidiaries in the program. There have been a couple of changes since, but the Alaska native corporations provide a lot of economic advantages for native Alaskans.