Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act

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40 years of ANCSA

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  • S P E C I A L E D I T I O N S E L E C T S T O R I E S F R O M A Y E A R L O N G S E R I E S 1S P E C I A L E D I T I O NS E L E C T S T O R I E S F R O M

    A Y E A R L O N G S E R I E S

  • 2 S P E C I A L E D I T I O N S E L E C T S T O R I E S F R O M A Y E A R L O N G S E R I E S

    A yearlong series looking into ANCSA:

    40 years laterFinding the oil was what did it.After a millennia of living in the Great Land, the indig-

    enous peoples of what is now Alaska had become familiar with change the Russians, the English, missionaries, gold seekers, fur traders, the disease and death.

    Disputes for lands, cultures and the languages had been ongoing since the first white settlement in the late 1700s, when the Russians set up camp in Kodiak. In the years that followed, Russian, English and later American govern-ments settled the lands.

    Mission schools from a variety of religions opened along coastal regions. Children had to leave their families to learn new languages, new customs and eat new foods.

    In those years, Natives were not treated as citizens; they were not even considered civilized according to the settlers standings. Storefronts in settlements and mining towns posted signs in the windows: No dogs or natives allowed.

    The Alaska Native people didnt just roll over and take it. They fought for, and gained, certain rights. The Alaska Native Brotherhood led many of the earliest efforts, after the group formed in 1912.

    In 1945, Alaska passed an anti-discrimination law, the first of its kind in America. It provided for equal treatment of Natives and whites in businesses and public places.

    Still, battles for aboriginal lands continued. The U.S. government in 1867 had purchased Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million. Various laws had passed Congress allow-ing American Indians, and in turn, Alaska Natives to retain their rights to long-occupied lands.

    Disputes over who owned what lands specifically continued, however.

    But when big oil struck in Prudhoe Bay in 1968, Alaska

    Natives suddenly had some leverage. Oil companies needed a pipeline to move oil from the North Slope to Valdez for transport to major markets.

    Alaska Natives and government agencies were arguing over vast areas along that route. The land claims issue had to be settled.

    That is how, in 1971, the Alaska Native Claims Set-tlement Act came to be. This legislation took a group of people who had survived off the land for centuries and suddenly dropped them into the white mans world of business and finance.

    ANCSA offered Alaska Natives 44 million acres of land the specifics of which are still being worked out today and $962.5 million. The law formed 12 for-profit corpora-tions, one for each region of the state. A 13th was formed later for Natives living Outside.

    It was a great experiment nothing like it had ever been done.

    Over the past year, the Alaska Journal of Commerce has explored the regional corporations formed under ANCSA. This publication is a compilation of that effort.

    We found that the great experiment resulted in great successes. The vast majority of those corporations have prospered over the years, both financially and in preserving their cultures.

    Success has not come without controversy, and some battles continue, but the spirit of the Alaska Native people have proven that they are a force to be reckoned with.

    Melissa CampbellManaging EditorAlaska Journal of Commerceeditor@alaskajournal.com

    you know us were your family, friends, and co-workers.

    Lucy Beaver, 113-year-old Yupik elder, matriarch and skin sewer with her granddaughter Carla LaPierre and great-granddaughters Yasmine and LiAva LaPierre

    www.mhtrust.org

    The Alaska Mental HealthTrust Authority

    Many Alaskans live with mental illness, developmental disabilities, chronic alcoholism and other substance related disorders, Alzheimers disease and related dementia, or traumatic brain injury.

    The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority advocates for services and supports that improve the lives of Alaskans who face these issues.

    Alaska Journal of Commerce Telephone: 907-561-4772

    Fax: 907-563-4744

    Web site: www.alaskajournal.com

    Regional Vice President

    Lee Leschper

    Managing Editor

    Melissa Campbell

    (907) 275-2158

    editor@alaskajournal.com

    Production/New Media

    Maree Shogren

    (907) 275-2162

    ads@ftp.alaskajournal.com

    Graphic Design/Layout

    Kathryn Beers (907) 275-2163

    Reporters

    Tim Bradner (907) 275-2159

    Andrew Jensen (907) 275-2165 Advertising Director

    Evy Gebhardt (907) 275-2166 Account Executives

    Ken Hanni (907) 275-2155 Silvija Kasper (907) 275-2153

    Suzzette Rowell (907) 275-2150

  • S P E C I A L E D I T I O N S E L E C T S T O R I E S F R O M A Y E A R L O N G S E R I E S 3

    eklutnaINC.

    anchorage alaskas largest pr ivate landowner

    COMING SOON!

    (907) 696-2828 Tol l Free 1-866 Eklutna16515 Center f ie ld Drive Eagle River, AK 99577

    Visi t us at : www.eklutnainc.com

    An ANCSA village corporation developing the economic landscape of the Anchorage area

    BirchwoodIndustrialParkResidentialRealEstatePortfolioCommercialRealEstatePortfolioPowderReserveMasterPlan LandandPermits8(a)FederalContractingMEAPowerPlantSandandGravelDirtImportation

    Industrially zoned 157 acres ofprime real estate conveniently locat-edofftheGlennHighwaynexttotheBirchwoodAirport.Railspurslocatednexttothesitemakethispropertystra-tegically located for easy movementofheavyequipmentandconstructionmaterials.

    Long-termleaseopportunities Lay-downstorageyard Officeandwarehouseleases

    Birchwood Industrial Park

    master plan gravel extraction

  • 4 S P E C I A L E D I T I O N S E L E C T S T O R I E S F R O M A Y E A R L O N G S E R I E S

    Ahtna buffeted by

    recession in 2009 but still shows

    growth, profitBy Tim Bradner

    2009 was not an easy year for Ahtna Inc., the Alaska Native regional corporation for the Copper River area.

    Ahtnas business activi-ties, mostly out-of-state, were buffeted by the reces-sion that has plagued the world economy.

    Still, the corporation, one of the states smaller regional corporations in terms of geographic area and population, managed to show growth in several of its businesses and to net a profit for the year, although a profit that was lower than

    in pre-recession 2008.In addition to its operating businesses, Ahtna,

    based in Glennallen, has a land-selection entitlement of 1.77 million acres in the region through the Alaska Native Claims Settlement of 1971. The corporation has been conveyed fee title to more than 1.5 million acres of its selection entitlement. It has about 1,500 shareholders but is now doing a new enrollment to encourage people born after 1971, when the Native claims act passed, to enroll.

    Many of our subsidiaries were able to navigate against the grain (of the recession) in many areas, the effects of a struggling economy impacted our overall performance, Ahtna President and CEO Ken Johns wrote in the corporations 2009 annual report. What we saw in 2009 were increases in competi-tion, delays in contract awards and negative trends in government spending in certain sectors, which caused setbacks in the finances of some of Ahtnas subsidiaries, Johns wrote.

    Michelle Nutter Anderson in September 2011 was named Ahtna president, replacing the retiring Johns.

    Johns and other Ahtna executives were not available for an interview on the corporations 2009 business ac-tivities. The annual report, however, shows that despite the recession, Ahtna enjoyed an 18 percent growth in revenues in 2009, increasing revenues by $35 million to a total of $231 million.

    Expenses also rose, from $189.2 million in 2008 to $226.5 million in 2009.

    Operating profits totaled $4.5 million, but a de-ferred tax expense of $1.1 million left the corpora-tion with a $1.7 million final profit for the year, Johns wrote in the annual report. The 2009 net profit of $1.7

    Ahtna Inc.President: Michelle nutter andersonHeadquarters: p.o. Box 649, glennallen, 99588, (907) 822-3476406 w. fireweed lane., anchorage, (907) 868-8250Website: www.ahtna-inc.comShareholders: about 1,500

    See Ahtna, Page 5

    Ahtna Inc. President/CEO Michelle Nutter Anderson

    Photo by Michael Dinneen, For the Journal

  • S P E C I A L E D I T I O N S E L E C T S T O R I E S F R O M A Y E A R L O N G S E R I E S 5

    million compares to a $2.87 million net profit in 2008.

    Still, assets of the corporation showed growth, totaling $62.76 million in 2009, compared to $55.26 million in 2008, ac-cording to the annual report.

    The corporations board declared a 2009 dividend of $2.79 per share, or $279 for a typical shareholder with 100 shares. In addition, the board approved Ahtnas first special dividend of $300 for elders among shareholders.

    Although some positive financial strides were taken in 2009, we did experience set-backs and lost opportunities; throughout the year we found ourselves making profits in certain areas and losing them in others, Johns wrote.

    The proxy statement filed by Ahtna in connection with its annual meeting showed that the corporation paid $2.09 million in salaries and bonuses in 2009 to five presidents and vice presidents of the corporation and key subsidiaries, includ-ing $391,309 to Johns.

    A total of $5.78 million was paid in compensation to officers and directors,

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