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My Turn: ANCSA remains an experiment

Posted: Monday, August 07, 2006

The question of post-Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act after-borns, those born after original stock certificates were issued, has been talked and talked and talked about. All that has happened is more talk, no action. Nevertheless, ANCSA was and continues to be an experiment in socialized capitalism.

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The reality for original-issue shareholders, such as myself, is that these stocks have no monetary value. As one recent regional board of director candidate so eloquently pointed out, it takes millions of dollars to pay tens of dollars (sometimes none!) to us so-called owner's. The only real beneficiaries of ANCSA haven't really been the intended recipients - the Native people. The beneficiaries have been primarily those individuals that have been elected on popularity contests. Elections have been determined not by the amount of business knowledge, experience and entrepreneurial acumen that the individual seeking board membership should require, and indeed must have, but rather they have been decided by large families, clans and friends of families often voting along family or bloodlines.

The time has long since passed that this experiment come to an abrupt end. The so-called caretakers of the Native culture paradigm - primarily the regional and village corporations - have extracted minerals and timber, polluted bays and harbors, and deforested our once beautiful and scenic land. To what end?

My stock is by law Inalienable. I'm stuck with this dead bird hanging around my neck that provides no cash benefit, no stock appreciation, no tax benefit by allowing me to claim stock investment losses. There is no value to this stock period. I would suggest that the real issue to be addressed is how fast can these companies be liquidated and put those directors who have received on-the-job training at the expense of us shareholders out on the street so that they can sell their caretaking abilities. Also, it would be notable to not exclude those other professionals, i.e. attorneys, accountants and consultants that have also received on-the-job training at our expense. In many cases those educations have been far more expensive than it would have been to send 100 shareholders through Ivy League universities. Enough said.

Postscript, I have been a past village corporation board member candidate. Those who supported my previous campaigns know my qualifications. My immediate family and extended family evidently were not as large as others. Indeed, I was told that due to my qualifications, I was a "threat" to the well-being of the corporation by its chairman of the board. Interesting indeed. Please let me know when a buyer for these shares steps forward. I could use the tax deduction for stock losses.

• Torvald Knudson is a resident of Sherwood, Ore.



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