CIRI's headquarters in midtown Anchorage under construction in the late 1970s.
Cook Inlet Region, Incorporated, also known as CIRI, is one of twelve land-based Alaska Native regional corporations created by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA or the Act).
The Act addressed the aboriginal claim to land by Alaska Native people by mandating the formation of for-profit corporations representing various regions of the state and by providing land and seed capital to those corporations. CIRI is one of those corporations, with regional boundaries that roughly follow the traditional Dena'ina territory of southcentral Alaska. CIRI was incorporated on June 8, 1972.
Through ANCSA, Alaska Native people living on Dec. 18, 1971, were allowed to enroll as shareholders of one of the regional corporations. Some 79,000 people were originally enrolled through this process. Each enrolled Alaska Native was subsequently issued 100 shares of restricted stock in the regional corporation to which he or she was enrolled. In this way, ANCSA provided the framework for the corporations to provide economic, educational and social service and other cultural benefits to current and future generations of shareholders. Today, CIRI has more than 7,500 Alaska Native shareholders of Athabascan and Southeast Indian, Inupiat, Yupik, Alutiiq (Sugpiaq) and Aleut (Unangax) descent. Approximately one-third of CIRI's shareholders live in Anchorage, one-third in other parts of Alaska and one-third in other states in the Lower 48 states and Hawaii.
ANCSA, a purposeful alternative to the reservation system, was the first settlement of its kind between Native Americans and the federal government. Alaska Native leaders fought for the corporate structure for holding land and capital, with the freedom to control their own economic and social future.
Through the years, CIRI has grown into one of Alaska's leading corporations with diverse business interests across the state, the nation and overseas.