Archive for the ‘Alaska Federation of Natives’ Category

Don Young pulls “Prohibition on No-Bid Contracts” language from Stimulus Bill

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

Don YoungAccording to the Congressman’s news release “The Senate version of H.R. 1 (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.) included a provision that appeared to prohibit the use of programs administered by the SBA that are designed for procurement through minority-owned business enterprises, women-owned businesses, Veteran and Service Disabled Veteran programs, HUBZone and Small Business Administration 8(a) programs.  Rep. Young worked with Members on the other side of the aisle to make the case for these programs, and was able to get the provision pulled from the bill.

“I was approached by members of the Alaskan Federation of Native with concerns about this provision,” said Rep. Young.  “I told them that no matter if I supported this bill or not, I would make sure they were not hurt by it.  These programs are a success and are working just as Congress intended.

“These programs” include the successful ANC SBA 8(a) program.  Here is the actual provision removed.

PROHIBITION ON NO-BID CONTRACTS AND EARMARKS

Sec. 1608. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to make any payment in connection with a contract unless the contract is awarded using competitive procedures in accordance with the requirements of section 303 of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 (41 U.S.C. 253), section 2304 of title 10, United States Code, and the Federal Acquisition Regulation.

(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be awarded by grant or cooperative agreement unless the process used to award such grant or cooperative agreement uses competitive procedures to select the grantee or award recipient.

Ted Stevens by Donald Craig Mitchell

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Ted StevensThe online newspaper “Alaska Dispatch” has a most interesting article about Ted Stevens written by Donald Craig Mitchell.  Anyone reading this blog probably already knows that Mitchell wrote the two most informative books about Alaska Natives and their land.

Sold American: The Story of Alaska Natives and Their Land 1867-1959

Take My Land, Take My Life: The Story of Congress’s Historic Settlement of Alaska Native Land Claims, 1960-1971 I would like to see a third installment in this series.

Mitchell talked about the enormous power Ted Stevens had as a senior US senator.  His first example was the “NOL Legislation”.  I couldn’t agree more.  As a student of ANC history, I am amazed at the windfall ANCs received as a result of the NOLs.

Many shareholders forced their boards to disperse of this new found money as dividends.  My corporations were no exception.

Click here for the full article.

Anchorage will host the Alaska Federation of Natives Conference in 2009

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

While attending AFN this year, I heard some discussion about this decision.  AFN’s board of directors had been alternating between Anchorage and Fairbanks for the last four years.

This from the “News-Miner” –Sen. Albert Kookesh, who serves as co-chairman of the federation, noted the new Anchorage convention center heavily courted the federation, offering free space for the event. He also said the federation’s gatherings in Fairbanks struggled to attract people from more distant parts of the state — only a few people from the North Slope and the Aleutian Islands, for example, could attend.

“We were concerned about that,” Kookesh said by cell phone Monday.

Kookesh said the new Anchorage convention center is situated far better in the city — within a couple minutes’ walk from three or four hotels — than the Carlson Center, pointing to that fact as another major reason to hold next year’s gathering in Anchorage.

Julie Kitka defends success of SBA 8(a) program; asks ADN to retract editorial

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

Economy, Native businesses succeed together

An editorial in the Anchorage Daily News on Oct. 7 (“No-Bid Preferences”) irresponsibly indicts Alaska Natives for the alleged impropriety of two companies associated with a recent and isolated Food & Drug administration government contract.  It also illustrates a fundamental misunderstanding of our history, the work of our business leaders and employees, our contribution to our country and the greater Alaska economy.

The U.S. Congress settled the land claims of Alaska Natives on Dec.18, 1971. The settlement was the largest, most complex Indian land settlement in the history of the United States. In addition to retaining 44 million acres of our original homeland, the Congress authorized Alaska Natives to organize and set up corporations to hold our land and resources. Our Native people were each issued 100 shares of stock in the newly formed Native corporations. We became shareholders and had to learn quickly what that meant and what the corporate structure was all about.

It is 37 years since the initial settlement and we have gained an incredible amount of experience with the corporate structure, with economic decision-making and competing in our rapidly changing capitalistic society. Over the years, we have made mistakes and we have learned. Now, many of our Native corporations are very successful. We have Alaska Native people at the helms of these economic engines. We are proud to contribute to both the Alaska and U.S. economy in significant ways.
The Anchorage Daily News editorial on government contracting was a huge disappointment to us. First of all, it tarred and feathered us all. It did not distinguish between our companies who are working hard and delivering real value and savings to the U.S. government — following the rules and exceeding government standards and expectations — and those few who may have made a mistake and must be accountable for their actions.

Congress authorized and required us to use corporations to implement our settlement. And Congress authorized Alaska Natives to participate in the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Businesses Development Program. The purpose of the U.S. national Indian policy in the 8(a) program was to allow our businesses to participate in the work the government was contracting out to the private sector. It was to allow our Native shareholders to benefit from our successful completion of government work, which met strict standards. If we were not successful in delivering quality work on time, within budget and within appropriate standards to the government, we would not be successful in competing for other work. This 8(a) government contracting is not a handout.

In many ways, Alaska Native corporations cannot be compared to any other business in America. The U.S. Congress created a vast experiment in 1971 and its success and failures have never been fully documented.  When I talk to respected individuals around the world, they are amazed by what has happened with our land claims. For example, Hernando de Soto, a world renowned Peruvian economist told us this: “Alaska Natives are living proof that life is not a roll of the dice, harsh and brutal.  Government can set in place policies and structures to allow people to help themselves”. When de Soto told us this I was amazed — someone saw what was happening in Alaska. He saw how hard the Alaska Native community was working to make our land settlement a success; he saw how we have shaped the corporate structure with our own values and culture; and saw that we are a contributing member of society.

The 8(a) program is allowing Native Americans, including Alaska Natives, to help ourselves and contribute here in Alaska and across the country. Unlike other 8(a) businesses that are individually owned, Alaska Native corporations are charged with the monumental task of lifting entire communities — representing hundreds, and often thousands of disadvantaged individuals. Therefore, placing caps on awards Alaska Native corporations receive through the 8(a) program or eliminating our corporations’ ability to create subsidiaries with the 8(a) program would suffocate the ability of our corporations to build capacity and expertise which is needed to compete in the global economy and greatly reduce the dividends, scholarships and our efforts to lift our people out of poverty. It would turn the clock back on the very people our government reached out to help.

As with industry, Alaska Native corporations that do not follow the rules and regulations of the 8(a) program must be disciplined individually — not collectively.  The Anchorage Daily News’ advocacy for collective punishment of all our corporations would condemn the entire Alaska Native population to further reliance on the American taxpayer, rather than furthering the cause of self-determination and economic independence.

Alaska Native businesses support 20 percent of Alaska’s population. In 2006, they generated a combined payroll of $695.25 million to over 15,000 Alaska employees, over $1.11 billion in payroll to almost 40,000 employees worldwide, and paid over $60 million in federal taxes. Progress has been made, but much more must be done. Dramatic economic disparity between Alaska Natives and other Americans still exists and must be overcome. Disparities continue in education, in health and life expectancy, even infant mortality. The Alaska Native leadership is committed to doing everything we can to eliminate the disparity in life opportunities and create a chance for every child to have a healthy and productive future.

It is unfair and irresponsible for your paper to call for sweeping changes to a government initiative which is working. On behalf of the Alaska Native leadership, we ask the Anchorage Daily News to retract their editorial and provide us an opportunity to meet to discuss your concerns.
Julie Kitka is president of the Alaska Federation of Natives