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The Corporate Whale: ANCSA, The First 10 Years Program

Program 10 of 10
McPherson, Karen Michel 1982

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5...4...3...2...1. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN OF THE AFN, THIS IS THE WHITE HOUSE IN WASHINGTON CALLING. I PRESENT THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES...

[President Nixon] I APPRECIATE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO EXTEND MY GREETINGS AND BEST WISHES TO THE CONVENTION OF THE ALASKA FEDERATION OF NATIVES. I WANT YOU TO BE AMONG THE FIRST TO KNOW THAT I HAVE JUST SIGNED THE ALASKA NATIVE CLAIMS SETTLEMENT ACT. THIS IS A MILESTONE IN ALASKA'S HISTORY.

[Narrator] THE CORPORATE WHALE: ANCSA, THE FIRST 10 YEARS.

[] The Reverend Merculieff from St. George Island...

This land of Alaska, which thou gave to our ancestors, who have come and gone before us, is now being handed to us a second time, by the Act of the United States Congress and our untiring efforts. A second chance is given to us by thee to be the new custodians and caretakers.

This is a very serious and important day in history. We have a tremendous amount of work to do in implementing this bill that has just been signed into law by the President of the United States. We cannot do it in a manner of a day or two or a week or a month. We're starting on a new era, the Post-Settlement Era.

A DECADE HAS PASSED SINCE DON WRIGHT SAID THOSE WORDS TO DELEGATES ATTENDING THE ANCHORAGE CONVENTION OF THE ALASKA FEDERATION OF NATIVES ON DECEMBER 18, 1971. BY AN OVERWHELMING MAJORITY, THEY HAD JUST VOTED TO ACCEPT THE TERMS OF THE ALASKA NATIVE CLAIMS SETTLEMENT ACT, ANCSA. $962.5 MILLION AND NEARLY 44 MILLION ACRES OF LAND IN EXCHANGE FOR RELINGUISHING FURTHER ABORIGINAL CLAIMS TO THAT LAND.

THE MONEY HAS ALL BEEN TRANSFERRED TO THE 13 NATIVE REGIONAL BUSINESS CORPORATIONS AND NEARLY 200 VILLAGE CORPORATIONS CREATED TO DIVIDE AND MANAGE THOSE ASSETS. THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR HAS CONVEYED LESS THAN ONE HALF OF THE PROMISED LAND. ONE REGIONAL CORPORATION MADE THE FORTUNE 1000, ANOTHER TEETERED ON BACKRUPTCY. IN ONE REGION, A GROUP OF MERGED VILLAGE CORPORATIONS HAD PROFITS OF NEARLY ONE MILLION DOLLARS, WELL ITS PARENT REGIONAL CORPORATION LOST SEVERAL TIMES THAT AMOUNT.

DURING THIS POST-ANCSA ERA, ALL CORPORATIONS HAVE EXPENDED MUCH TIME AND DOLLARS ATTEMPTING TO DECIPHER THE ACT AND IMPLEMENTING ITS PROVISIONS AND PLANNING FOR THE NEXT DECADE.

IN THIS PROGRAM, THE LAST IN A TEN PART SERIES, THE CORPORATE WHALE, LEADERS INVOLVED IN LAND CLAIMS IMPLEMENTATION ASSESS THE BILL THAT BARROW ACTIVIST CHARLIE EDWARDSEN, JR., ETOK, ONCE REFERRED TO AS "A NEW HARPOON."

ØDividin' the maktak is they way it's always been
Dividin' the maktak between family and friends
We're sailin' toward to future, we're anchored in the past
Rich in our tradition, our ways will surely last Ø

IÑUPIAQ LINGUIST EDNA MACLEAN OF THE ALASKA NATIVE LANGUAGE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA IN FAIRBANKS...

The terminology that is used for the Whale has been ..uh.. it's been used for describing the actions or the activities going on in the corporation. Like, for instance ..um.. [niñiq] in the traditional sense means "a share of the animal" [we say]. Now ..um.. we've extended the meaning to mean "stocks in the corporation." And also ..um.. the same stem "[-ñiqtuq]" means that "he gets a share," and it also has the meaning "he gets a share of the meat." Okay, so "[Niñiqtuq Corporation-mi]" means that "he got a share of the profit from the corporation." The corporation's now your means of survival. And you might say like hunting animals was the most basic way of ..um.. surviving for the Eskimos.

IN ESKIMO WHALING, EVERYONE GETS A SHARE OF THE CATCH. IN THE LAND CLAIMS SETTLEMENT, ALL WHO QUALIFIED TO ENROLL GET THE SAME NUMBER OF SHARES. IN WHALING, THE SIZE AND QUALITY OF THE SHARES DIFFER. THE CAPTAIN AND PARTICIPATING CREWS GET MORE AND CHOICER SECTIONS, MUCH LIKE CORPORATE OFFICERS. ACCORDING TO ETOK, CHARLIE EDWARDSEN, JR., SHARES IN THE CORPORATION ARE NOT TRULY EQUAL DUE TO THE POWER OF THE UMIALIK, THE CAPTAIN, THE CORPORATE OFFICERS.

The corporation model as it is conceived in ANCSA is a democratic model, and the one that is being managed in the disguise of ANCSA is..is one like Exxon. And they're two separate things. And so the question of..of corporate democracy has gone out the window.

ANDY HOPE III OF THE SHEE ATIKÁ CORPORATION IN SITKA...

There has to be a consolidation ..uh.. between the previous Indian legislation, [I see in the] Indian Reorganization Act, the Self-Determination Act, and the Land Claims legislation. And you have to provide for continuous tribal economic development, rather than saying, "Well, you guys are all going to be corporations. And get out there in Wall Street." And ..uh.. you know and, "Get in there with all the banks and all the oil companies. And you're going to be the same as everybody else." Nice little Corporate Americans.

UNLIKE OTHER AMERICAN CORPORATIONS, SHAREHOLDERS MAY NOT SELL THE STOCK GIVEN TO THEM UNDER ANCSA UNTIL 1991. SAM KITO IS A PAST PRESIDENT OF THE ALASKA FEDERATION OF NATIVES, NOW HE'S THEIR LOBBYIST AND ALSO LOBBIES FOR SEVERAL REGIONAL CORPORATIONS, SITS ON THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF DOYON LIMITED AND ON THE UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA'S BOARD OF REGENTS...

In ten years the most ..uh.. important issue that will be upon us is when the stock becomes alienable. What will the shareholders do with the stock? My level of concern is..is brought about by wondering, I guess at this point, whether or not that stock is going to be sold. And I think that what we're approaching is the idea of providing enough support of information and success in the regional corporations. And the message to the shareholder that if they sell the stock, they sell the land, and they receive money. But land is the legacy and that..that we would like to find ways for them:
1. not to sell stock...but
2. if they should decide to sell stock, we..we'd like to make sure that first write a refusal to the corporation for the stock [for the prime be sold].

AMENDMENTS IN THE ALASKA NATIONAL INTEREST LANDS CONSERVATIONS ACT OF 1980, THE D2 LEGISLATION, GIVE CORPORATIONS THAT RIGHT. BUT IN TEN YEARS, STOCK IN SOME CORPORATIONS, SUCH AS THE OIL-RICH ARCTIC SLOPE, MAYBE WEIGHS TOO MUCH FOR THE CORPORATIONS TO AFFORD TO BUY BACK. ANDY HOPE III...

Hell, now when..when these high rollers come in in 1991, throwing cash all over this place, ..uh.. you know, you think ..uh.. many people are going to have ..uh.. have sympathy for their..for their ..uh.. own corporations? Uh.. and sell it to them? You know, [I think I'll go for the] highest..the highest bidder and a lot of them will.

CALISTA CORPORATION VICE PRESIDENT NELSON ANGAPAK...

[We are] in the processing of developing an..an educational package that is designed, hopefully, to inform our village, [SLSR] regional corporate stockholders, the importance of keeping and holding onto that stock.

CALISTA CORPORATION IS PARTICULARLY INTERESTED IN DEVELOPING TIES WITH THEIR SHAREHOLDERS. ONE OF THE LARGEST OF THE REGIONAL CORPORATIONS IN LAND AREA, POPULATION SERVED IN NUMBER OF VILLAGES, IT HAS ALSO BEEN A LEADER IN TURNOVER OF TOP MANAGEMENT AND IN LAWSUITS.

A NUMBER OF REGIONAL CORPORATIONS HAVE ESTABLISHED SEPARATE SHAREHOLDER RELATIONS DEPARTMENT TO PROVIDE STOCKHOLDERS WITH INFORMATION ON CORPORATE AFFAIRS AND TO KEEP TRACK OF PEOPLES' WHEREABOUTS.

Ø

NOT ALL CORPORATIONS ARE CONTENT TO PLAN FOR STOCK RETENTION IN 1991. SOME LIKE KOTZEBUE'S KIKIKTAGRUK IÑUPIAT CORPORATION AND ITS PRESIDENT AL ADAMS ARE WAITING TO PREY UPON THOSE WHO WISH TO SELL...

The [share-rollers] of Kotzebue have to come up with a plan so that we will retain ownership of the stock, of the land. And by that time, I hope we..our assets will be great enough that we will be able to look at purchasing others outside the region. Because of..I know there is going to be failure ..uh.. with ..uh.. stock and land throughout Alaska. And ..uh.. I hate to see it happen, but we..we should be ready to also..to look at investing outside of our region as far as land and somebody else's stock.

THE PEOPLE SELLING THE STOCK WOULD HAVE BEEN ISSUED THE SHARES AFTER ENROLLING IF THEY WERE BORN BEFORE DECEMBER 18, 1971, THE DATE THE ACT WAS SIGNED INTO LAW. ALASKA NATIVES, WHO EITHER DID NOT ENROLL OR WHO WERE BORN AFTER THAT DATE, WERE NOT ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE STOCK EXCEPT THROUGH INHERITANCE. IN MANY FAMILIES, SIBLINGS HAVE SPLIT, SOME RECEIVING MONEY AND LAND AND OTHERS NOT. SEALASKA BOARD MEMBER, FORMER ALASKA FEDERATION OF NATIVES AND ALASKA NATIVE FOUNDATION PRESIDENT, ROGER LANG...

[??] thing in the world that says I cannot enroll anybody I want into my corporation. Simply enroll them. You don't have to enroll them on a BIA's rule, we just issue shares. That's all. Twenty year olds are going to be a problem in 1991 if we don't do something. And I have one myself. He's nine years old now, and he'll be 19 in '91. And if I don't do something for him, well, he'll kick my butt.

THERE ARE OTHER ISSUES TO BE RESOLVED WITHIN THE NEXT FEW YEARS AS WELL. DETERMINING WHETHER ANCSA'S JURISDICTION INCLUDES THE OUTER CONTINENTAL SHELF, PROTECTION OF NATIVE SUBSISTENCE RIGHTS, THE NATURE OF THE TRUST RELATIONSHIP OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO ALASKA NATIVES, THE COMPLETION OF LAND CONVEYANCES (THAT MAY TAKE WELL BEYOND 1991), AND A RESOLUTION OF THE INTERPRETATION OF THE REVENUE SHARING 7(i) PROVISION THAT'S HAD ALL 12 IN-STATE REGIONAL NATIVE CORPORATIONS IN COURT FOR BETTER THAN A HALF A DOZEN YEARS. DOYON LIMITED PRESIDENT TIM WALLACE...

When Congress said, you know, "Go into the world now and make your living, and after 20 years, you're going to be like all other corporations." Uh..they forgot about 7(i), and that's a tremendous handicap for any corporation to ..uh.. to keep [us overhead], ..uh.. and do everything else. And then 70% of your profits you share with competing corporations. And then still plan for dividends. Uh.. and with all the controversy surrounding ..uh.. 7(i) itself ..uh.. it's a nightmare section.

FOR OTHERS LIKE SENATOR TED STEVENS, THE DREAMS AND THE MEMORIES ARE BETTER...

Like anything else, you don't like to remember the time when you struck out. You remember the time when you hit a home run. And I think..I think that the Land Claims Act was a home run.

NORTHWEST ARCTIC NATIVE ASSOCIATION LEADER WILLIE HENSLEY FEELS THE GAME IS FAR FROM WON...

I think we've just ..uh.. made our first strike. We got a couple strikes to go. And we got to get people on bases and [laughs] you know, we've just begun.

SEALASKA PRESIDENT BYRON MALLOT TELLS THIS STORY...

A young Native, you know, about college age, is contemplating his future. He's walking along the beach. Uh..uh..comes upon the proverbial bottle which he rubs. And up pops a genie and says the typical things genies say in those circumstances. Says, you know, "You let me free and I'll reward you. What do you want?" And ..uh..uh.. the Native young person said, you know, "I'm at a point in my life where I'm unsure about my future. And ..uh.. doggone it, you know, I'd..I'd like to be just like most other people my age in America." You know ..uh.. and ..uh.. Poof! He was wearing gray flannel slacks and a..and a blue blazer. And he had an American Express card in ..uh.. in one hand and a college degree in the other. Uh..uh..and genie said, "Well, would you like, you know, I can grant you another wish." And..and..and the young Native person said, "Gosh, now I'd like to have the potential to be..to be very wealthy and ..uh.. and ..uh.. own a lot of land." And Poof! he was an Alaska Native kicking sand on the beach again. Uh.. you know, we have the latter potential. And Native people also have the ..uh.. former. Uh.. but there's still promises yet to be realized.

YOU'VE BEEN LISTENING TO THE CORPORATE WHALE: ANCSA, THE FIRST 10 YEARS. THE LAST PROGRAM IN A TEN PART SERIES WRITTEN AND PRODUCED BY KAREN MICHEL MCPHERSON, WITH TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE FROM PHILLIP KAKOWSKI (sp?). FUNDING WAS PROVIDED BY KUAC SPONSORS AND THE ALASKA NATIVE HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM OF THE COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA.

SPECIAL THANKS TO JOHN HUSTROM OF KCAW, PATTI GINSBERG OF KTOO, AND MUSICIANS HERBIE VENT, BUDDY TABOR, AND TED WESLEY.

 

Part 1
"This 10 part series, The Corporate Whale, will listen to some of the events leading to the Land Claims Settlement, the mechanisms that were employed to manage the Act, government agencies, and Native corporations, hear how leaders assess the first 10 years, and predictions for 1991."

Part 2
"Both restrictive provisions included in the Act, what the Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement is, and how it divides up the land and the money will be discussed in this program, the second in a ten part series: The Corporate Whale."

Part 3
"In this program, the third in a ten part series, The Corporate Whale, Native leaders and others involved with the framing of the Land Claims Settlement give some of their thoughts on the corporate concept and how well that mechanism works for dividing the benefits of ANCSA: The Whale."

Part 4
"This program is the fourth in a ten part series, The Corporate Whale: ANCSA, The First Ten Years. Agency representatives and Native corporation leaders will give their perspectives on the land's aspect of the Land Claims Settlement."

Part 5
"In this program, the fifth in a ten part series, The Corporate Whale, leaders of Sealaska and Cook Inlet Region, Inc., will profile their activities in dividing the benefits of ANCSA into profits for shareholders."

Part 6
"In this program, the sixth in a ten part series, The Corporate Whale, leaders from NANA, the Northwest Alaska Native Association region, and Calista Corporation will profile their corporation's activities in managing ANCSA's benefit."

Part 7
"Both the Land Loss Formula and 7(i), the revenue sharing provision, were intended to be equalizers in the Settlement providing resource revenues to regions without rich lands and additional land to those without large populations. This program, the seventh in a ten part series, The Corporate Whale, will examine two regional corporations particularly affected by the provisions, the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation in the north and Doyon Limited in the interior."

Part 8
"In this program, the eighth in a ten part series, The Corporate Whale, village and regional corporation leaders will discuss centered approaches to managing ANCSA's land and money entitlements, and impact."

Part 9
"This program, a ninth in a ten part series, The Corporate Whale, will examine the role of the Alaska Federation of Natives and its efforts to survive and continue to be a unifying body for the corporations who manage ANCSA's benefits."

Part 10
"In this program, the last in a ten part series, The Corporate Whale, leaders involved in land claims implementation assess the bill that Barrow activist Charlie Edwardsen, Jr., Etok, once referred to as 'a new harpoon.'"

Alaska Native Knowledge Network is responsible for the transcription of this series. We would like to humbly apologize for any misspellings in advance.

 

 

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Last modified August 14, 2006