Homesteading

Homesteading

 

CabinIn 1862, Congress passed the revolutionary Homestead Act that sent thousands of Americans west in pursuit of free land. Any man 21 years of age or over was eligible to stake out 160 acres of land for less than $20. After filing their intentions, homesteaders were required to live on the land, build a residence, and farm at least 10% of it within five years before a legal patent for the land was issued. After Alaska was purchased by the U.S., homesteaders began claiming land in Alaska. Homesteaders ranged from dairy and agricultural farmers to miners and wilderness pioneers living a subsistence lifestyle. Though homesteading in most of the U.S. began to rapidly diminish in the early 20th century, it remained a viable method of settling Alaska. The Homestead Act was finally repealed in 1976, though Alaska was granted an extension until 1986. In its 114 active years, 10% of U.S. land was settled under the act, including significant portions of Alaska. Document extending the Homestead Act in Alaska.

Since the 1986 repeal, there has been no federal homesteading program in Alaska; the State of Alaska, however, created public land disposal programs starting with statehood in 1959. Initially, the state sold land primarily through auctions and then through land lotteries after 1978. In 1977 the Homesite Law provided for "free land" with provisions similar those of the federal Homestead Act. In 1984, the Homestead Program was initiated, allowing for the claim of 40 non-agricultural acres or 160 agricultural acres of land. The requirements for homesteaders eventually came to include U.S. citizenship and residency in Alaska for one year prior to filing as well as certain surveying, clearing and building obligations. After 1988, all parcels eligible for homesteading were first staked out by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR fact sheet "Land for Alaskans" outlines the different programs of land disposals offered by DNR as well as contact information for other agencies offering land for sale within the state. Today, the DNR primarily sells state lands for private or commercial use through public sealed bids. Parcels that are not sold through these auctions are offered for sale over-the-counter. For current state land parcels for sale, visit the following DNR sites:

Land Disposal Home Page

Or contact the DNR Public Information Center for more information.

Department of Natural Resources
550 W. 7th Ave. Ste. 1260
Anchorage, AK 9950-13557
907- 269-8400 (Dial 0 after 10:00am to get to Center Staff)

Alaska Facts

State Nick Name: "The Last Frontier" - the name Alaska is derived from the Aleut word "Aleyska," meaning "great land."

State Motto: "North to the Future"

State Capital: Juneau, located in the Southeast region of Alaska, has a population of 31,275 (2010 Census)

Alaska Map:

Map of Alaska

Alaska Flag:

Alaska state flag is dark blue with yellow stars in the shape of the big dipper with the North star

NOTE: The State of Alaska is not responsible for the content/information on any site outside of a State of Alaska department.