The First 50 Years: Looking Back
Formed in 1965, by original founders Samuel Simmonds, Guy Okakok, Sr., and Charles ‘Etok’ Edwardsen, Jr., ASNA was originally created to help protect the lands of the Arctic Slope region, beginning the process that led to the Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement Act.
1963 – Indian Health Service (IHS) Hospital is built in Barrow
October 1965 – Acting under the name ASNA, Charles Edwardsen, Jr., Guy Okakok, Sr., and Samuel Simmonds file claim to 58 million acres for the Iñupiat.
1965 – Eben Hopson, Sr. becomes the first Executive Director of ASNA.
January 18, 1966 – Attorney Fred Paul files land claim on behalf of ASNA in the U.S. Department of the Interior. Paul was Tlingit and based out of Seattle.
1969 – Joseph Upicksoun becomes president of ASNA.
October 1970 – ASNA withdraws from the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN), because proposed legislation would distribute land and money based on population.
December 1970 – ASNA returns to AFN after a compromise is reached with the new leadership of Don Wright. The final legislation reflects ASNA’s position that the largest regions will receive the most land and money, regardless of population. The compromise also includes a clause that a percentage of revenue generated by each region will be shared among the rest of the regions.
July 16, 1971– ASNA leaders, realizing that a borough would have taxing and planning authority, file a petition with the state to create the North Slope Borough.
December 18, 1971 – Following acceptance by the AFN convention, President Nixon signs the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. The Act includes 40 million acres of land and $962.5 million compensation for lands loss to be shared among the 12 different regions represented by AFN.
February 1972 – The Alaska Local Boundary Commission approves the petition to create the North Slope Borough, but only with powers of a first class city: education, taxing, planning and zoning.
June 20, 1972 – Voters of the Arctic Slope communities overwhelmingly vote to approve the creation of the North Slope Borough. The oil industry remains unsupportive.
June 26, 1972 – Alaska Supreme Court Associate Justice Roger G. Connor hears the case opposing the North Slope Borough. The same day, he rules in favor of the North Slope Borough and against the oil industry.
1985 - 1991 – ASNA inactive; Arctic Slope leaders go on to form the North Slope Borough and Arctic Slope Regional Corporation.
1991 – With start-up grants from Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and the North Slope Borough, ASNA is reactivated to pursue goals of self-determination for health and social services programs. Joseph Upicksoun serves as chairman until his death in 2005. He was born in Point Lay and raised by his step parents Warren and Dorcas Neakok. Upicksoun graduated high school in White Mountain and then joined the Merchant Marines. At age 19, he was sent to war in Korea and quickly became a squad leader.
1992 – As a non-profit tribal organization, ASNA becomes eligible under federal law PL 93-638 of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Act, to receive federal money to provide programs that had traditionally been provided by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
December 15, 1995 – The Indian Health Service approves ASNA contract to operate Barrow Hospital. Strides are made statewide by other tribes and tribal organizations to assume control of health care in their communities. Alaska will soon become the only state where tribes begin providing health care for their people with minimal presence from the Indian Health Service.
1995/1996 – ASNA Hospital Governing Board is created, representing the first time there is local governance of all hospital operations.
March 15, 1996 – ASNA officially takes over operations of Barrow Hospital
1997 – ASNA Board of Directors approves tribal share distribution to all North Slope village tribal councils that have approved resolutions to operate the hospital. Tribal councils are urged to use the distribution to improve the health and welfare of their members.
February 28, 1997 – Local contest held to name Barrow Hospital. The winner is “Samuel Simmonds Memorial Hospital” in honor of the late Reverend Samuel Simmonds who became known as a master carver, lay pastor, accountant, minister, counselor, healer, community activist, Elder, loving husband and father. He was born in Barrow, Alaska on January 25, 1922 to Abe Pauyuuraq Sr. and Mamie Iñuquyuk Simmonds.
2000 – $2.5 million renovation of Samuel Simmonds Memorial Hospital is completed
February 29, 2007 – First two loads of gravel are delivered to the new hospital site
June 2007 – After 10 years leading ASNA, Eben Hopson, Jr. retires as President/CEO. The Board names Marie Carroll, Vice President for Health Services, to succeed him.
September 21, 2013 – After 50 years operating at the old hospital, new hospital in Barrow opens for service.
ASNA 50th Anniversary