At one time homesteading was a major part of getting permanent settlers to Alaska, and often worked hand in hand with the rush for gold and other valuable minerals in the late 1800s and throughout the 1900s. Homesteading is the awarding of land to individuals for free who stay on the land for a set amount of time and develop the property. That’s why they get the land for free. While this was used as an attempt to settle the west and far away areas in need of development like Alaska, there is a common misconception that homesteading is still a wide spread practice. I hate to be the one to burst the bubble, but as I explained in the blog post about Alaska land offerings, that practice has long since passed.
While once in a while a local town might try to entice more people to move in by offering a local homestead program, as far as a homesteading goes, the Federal policy ended in 1976 while Alaska followed suit a decade later and ended their homestead program in 1986, grandfathering in the individuals who had moved into the state under the old program but who had not stayed the required number of years yet or still had time to develop the land.
Some people have fallen for rumors of squatter’s claims in Alaska, and stories abound of squatters managing to take land from the state by some form of adverse possession, but these are myths. Staying on land 10 or 20 years doesn’t allow someone to officially own the land that belongs to the state of Alaska.