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Corporate voting isn't democratic

Posted: November 22, 2011 - 1:00am

In response to the article about Ed Thomas’ talk at the Sealaska Heritage Institute’s brown bag lunch series:

Sealaska Corp. has been inventing their own phrases, like “tribal member shareholder” and “economic self-determination,” because they want merge Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and themselves into one entity. They want their own seat at the National Congress of the American Indians too.

The Native corporate oligarchy here in Alaska has been living in denial. They believe their own misrepresentations of history. I have two examples.

Example No. 1: “Alaskan tribes were not as directly affected by the idea of Manifest Destiny, the expansion of the United States and white settlers across North America.” — Ed Thomas, November 2011.

If this is true, then why are we a minority on our own homelands with only 5 percent left of our own customs and spirituality. Check Census 2010 for yourself, Alaska Natives are 13 percent of the state’s population.

Example No. 2: “I remember 1971, when the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act was before Congress and there was a genuine concern in the country about wanting to improve conditions for Alaska Natives.” — Clarence Jackson, July 14, 2011.

If this is true, why do the state penitentiaries have a 45 percent Native population? And why do most Native people living in rural Alaska live in abject poverty likened to developing nations?

The state of Alaska Department of Commerce, Community & Economic Development website states: “ANCSA corporations’ stock is not freely tradable, Congress decided to exempt these companies from the proxy rules of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In 1971, it was thought that the shares would become tradable in 20 years, at which time the corporations would come back under the SEC’s rules. Shortly before 1991, however, the date for tradable shares became less definite in time.”

Corporate voting isn’t democratic.

Proxy votes depend on how many shares of stock any shareholder has in a corporation during each election cycle. I have 50 shares of stock so I get three votes per one share of stock and that equals 150 votes. If there are five candidates running for the board of directors I can vote for every one of them if I want by splitting it into 30 votes each. One person equals any number of votes. Proxy voting would never be accepted by the American people in elections for state or federal representatives so why should Alaska Natives have it for our political system too?

Ryan Olson

Juneau

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