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My turn: Board angles to pass new Native resolution

Posted: Monday, January 15, 2007

Why does it have to be all or nothing in a single resolution? Each of the major components of the proposed resolution should stand on its own merits and be voted up or down on its own merits. The board doesn't trust Sealaska shareholders to vote the way the board wants the vote to come out so they've contrived this bundled vote. Holding the annual meeting in Anchorage away form Southeast's main Native populace is another transparent ploy to minimize dissenters at the meeting.

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Sealaska successfully lobbied Congress with the Alaska Federation of Natives to change the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act to allow ANCSA corporations to use less than a two-thirds majority vote in passing resolutions. Sealaska should have first authorized a vote on a resolution to amend corporate bylaws to use less than a two-thirds majority vote to pass resolutions. Use of less than a two-thirds majority vote is too major a deviation to allow the board to usurp such a momentous decision out of the hands of shareholders.

The proposed resolution is fueling a grass-roots uprising of dissenters, who will ultimately organize to file a class-action lawsuit to force the Sealaska board to first allow a vote on a resolution authorizing use of less than a two-thirds vote before the board can proceed with separate resolutions for new Natives, stock for left-outs and additional stock for elders.

At its Juneau informational meeting, board members stated that they are including the 100 shares of life-estate stock for elders to offset any reduction in dividend payments to elders because of the addition of new shareholders once the rolls are opened after the vote. The Sealaska Board's stated concern for elders is disingenuous because their real motive is they fashioned their resolution to appeal to as wide a base of original shareholders as possible to better the chances of their resolution passing.

Board-generated materials state there will only be approximately 5,000 new Natives immediately eligible (the remaining 7,000 will be under age 18 and have to wait until age 18) resulting in an approximate 15 percent dilution (reduction in dividends per share). I seriously distrust the board's actuarial expert's estimate. Southeast Native peoples are very prolific; therefore, a national census should be undertaken prior to a vote so that we can make an informed vote.

The Sealaska board is clearly not representing the current owners of Sealaska.

• Edith E. McHenry is a Juneau resident.



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