I am an original Sealaska shareholder. I just received a letter from Sealaska Corporation seeking my support as a southeast business owner for their revamped lands legislation, soon to be introduced in the US Congress by Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
It was refreshing to see this appeal to the business community — something I had advised them to do last summer when top Sealaska executives called me in to discuss communication strategies for the bill. If they had taken my advice I think they’d have made it farther in our quest to get the land Congress promised us four-decades ago.
I applaud their new appeal but I respectfully suggest that they speak more broadly, to the whole Southeast community about promoting economic development, developing business relationships that benefit everyone in the region, and building an economic future in Southeast for our families and children.
Dump any “us versus them” strategies in your quest to get this important legislation passed in Congress. We will succeed when we build smart, positive relationships with all the good people of this state. Sealaska leadership’s 50-year old divisive strategies have not advanced the interests of the Alaska Native community because they look backward to the glory days of the struggle to pass ANCSA. Sealaska’s leaders must look forward, with new strategies that benefit our communities and all the folks who live and work in them.
We all want new leadership in our corporations that understands that economic development and success is all about building relationships across the region, speaking the language of business and talking about the mutual benefits of working together. Look how far we have come. Native people survived and prospered more than 500 generations in this great land by working together. In today’s economy, it’s no different: we depend on each other in this region. We move forward when we work together with everyone who calls this great place home.
Ross V. Soboleff,
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