Power lies in traditional tribes

Letter to the editor

Posted: Monday, April 02, 2007

Forming Native corporations was something I knew was not going to work. Sadly, only a few Native people benefit, and this is caused by greed, money and power. These are the reasons why I will be voting no for new enrollment. The Sealaska shareholders-at-large will receive less if we allow new enrollment to Sealaska Corp. In the early 1970s, we had to sign up to become shareholders and did so by a deadline. This is how Native corporations were started. When I die or gift my shares to my son and daughters, this is how my corporation should get new enrollment.

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The money and land should go to the indigenous traditional tribes in Alaska. Then we won't be worried about our grandchildren or worry about a vote whether or not you are in the corporation or out.

Here is what should happen; there are 13 tribes in the Tlingit Nation. Tongass Tribe or Taan ta Kwaan has been organized since 1986 to conduct business as an indigenous traditional tribe in Ketchikan. The tribe meets on a regular basis to discuss tribal business, participate in dance practice, plan a picnic and socialize.

Traditional tribe is where the power lies and not the Alaska Native Brotherhood, I.R.A., Bureau of Indian Affairs, Tlingit and Haida or corporations. Organizing your tribe is easy to do. Have your clan leaders call a meeting and put it in order. This is what Tongass tribe accomplished. Have the elders present for guidance and direction. We did not ask anyone's permission to conduct tribal business, such as when we carved the Kad-juk Hit totem (Chief Johnson totem in Ketchikan) nor do we ask if we can have a potlatch. We tell people what our tribe is going to do. We use the Roberts Rules of Order for our meetings, but we vote consensus.

Sealaska Corp. should be thinking of how to divide the lands to the landless communities of Ketchikan, Petersburg, Wrangell and Tenakee Springs. Let the traditional tribes decide their own destiny whether this be for enrollment or landless agreements. We can have our land to walk on, build houses, hunt and fish, carve totems, have land to pass down from generation to generation.

As a shareholder-at-large, do you know where your corporation lands are located or do you ever see it or walk on it? I have not. Organize your tribe in your village - don't let others think for you.

My name is Aan Kadax Tseen, Gaanax adi Clan, Yei l Hit, Taan ta Kwaan. I will get off my gum boot box - a tough decision. I am voting "No." This is my opinion.

Don Hoff Jr.

Hixson, Tenn.

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