In 1971, when Sealaska was formed, I was 18 years old. I remember my father talking of the "land claims" and how this deal with Congress would be for the good of the Tlingit people.
At that time, my father was 59 years old, two years older than I am now. His father, Robert Austin, the former chief of the Shangukeidi (Thunderbird), supported efforts in the struggle for land rights, and in 1947, our people turned to the U.S. courts by filing a land claims lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Claims. He died 8 years prior to the birth of Sealaska.
Two generations have passed away with optimism that the land claims would deliver hope and a brighter future for the Tlingit people.
In 1982, Sealaska filed for bankruptcy. Two years later, my father passed away. In the following decades, the decline continued for Ocean Beauty, SEABIC, Alaska Brick Company, SEACAL, Triquest, Fairbanks Sand & Gravel, Alaska Wireless, Sealaska Permanent Fund, the $142 million losses in 2001. The SPF started with 68 million, in 1986, 100 million in 1996, and 24 million in 2000, with a declining pattern of financial losses. Shareholders need to question the story that the Permanent Fund maintains prudent high caliber management.
My intent is to raise shareholder awareness that we need change. How can we continue on this pattern of business failures by electing the same board members that lead us to this path? There is a need for diversification of our Sealaska board and this can only be accomplished by electing individuals that want change and shareholder inspired diversification. Sealaska shareholders are the owners of the corporation; we have the power to elect board members that can be catalysts for change for the Sealaska board. This change has to be made to benefit our children, and their children, which means that our course to change needs to include means to educate our children, to ensure that they succeed in higher education. Change can only happen when shareholders decide to elect their own board members, and do away with management-sponsored candidates.
Byron Mallott was quoted about the biggest danger facing Native corporations "is that of surviving in the present, because of the high expectations of shareholders that came from passage of the claims settlement, and the short-term inability of corporations to meet those expectations."
The biggest danger facing shareholders is to elect the same board members that have delivered demise. Look at our Sealaska financial record - the high expectation of shareholders has long past, the board members have proven their inability to meet the expectations of the shareholders and we cannot afford to continue this path.
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