Archive for the ‘Regional Corporation’ Category

Alaska Natives issues more complex than black and white answers

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

juneau_empire_picAugust, 18, 2009, the editor of NativeCo.com, Morgan Howard sent a letter to the editor in response to a previous letter published.

This letter is in response to a “Letter to the editor” (August 11, 2009) by Gretchen Goldstein.

The author states, “Living in harmony with nature is not compatible with clear-cut logging” and “Unfortunately, the way they (Sealaska) make money often overrides their Native culture’s traditional values.”

Please do not insult Native people by simplifying our world into the black and white world of disaffected environmentalists. Why do anti-logging proponents think they feel the negative effects of logging more than Natives just because we’re the ones doing the logging? This assumption is a failure to understand the plight of Indigenous people.

No one understands the paradox of respecting the natural world and natural resource development better than us. We’ve been the stewards of our land for more than 10,000 years… we understand the concept of balancing our present day needs with unforeseen future obligations.

I am a shareholder of three southeast Native corporations – all three have practiced clear-cutting. I understand the realities my corporations faced and know that our leaders have never taken land stewardship lightly. As a videographer, I have personally seen the healthy second growth forest near the “small communities of Prince of Wales Island”. I have seen Sealaska’s silviculture practices first hand, from tree planting to stream studies. Sealaska is a leading expert in forestry management in temperate rainforests.

Clear-cutting has such strong negative connotations that few take the time to learn about the practice. I suggest reading the front-page article last week in the Seattle Times entitled, “New strategy to save forests: logging”.

In fact, I embrace our history of “clear-cutting”. Clear-cutting has saved us! Our trees have allowed us to be respected and relevant stakeholders in our own country. The foundations of southeast Native corporations are built on the revenue from clear-cutting.

The timber business has provided enormous positive contributions to the Native community. Sealaska’s timber revenue funded the creation of the “Sealaska Heritage Institute” (SHI). SHI is the primary driving force behind saving our endangered indigenous languages.

I understand some believe that no amount of human benefit justifies the commercial harvesting of trees. I disagree. Some contributions such as language and culture are so vital to our existence, that their loss would be devastating. Trees grow back, but once we lose our language and culture, they may be gone forever.

We lost the Eyak language last year. We only have a handful of Haida speakers left. Tlingit, a language that once dominated southeast Alaska may be gone in my lifetime. Time is running out.

The late Frederica DeLaguna said to me, “Without language a culture will die… It will be like what Roman culture is to us today”. If we can somehow save our languages, our culture stands a chance to survive.

Environmentalists talk about the importance of “biodiversity”, but what about “cultural diversity” and “language diversity”. Our Hemlock and Spruce may help us save our language and culture. Generations from now, our descendants will thank us for cutting our trees.

Ironically, we had to sacrifice our language to become citizens and vote… And now we’ve had to cut our trees to save our language.

These issues are complex and like many times in our history have made for tough decisions. It is our “Native Culture’s traditional values” that provides the ability to adapt and persevere through the rising tides of change.

Morgan Howard

Tlingit, Teikweidí Clan, Eagle moiety

Sealaska, Goldbelt and Yak-tat Kwaan shareholder

Sealaska and Central Council sign historic agreement

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Martin and McNeil signing agreement The following is directly from their press release:

Bill Martin, President of Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (Central Council) and Chris E. McNeil, Jr., Sealaska President & CEO are pleased to announce that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed on March 27, 2009 between Central Council and Sealaska. The MOU is a historic agreement and strengthens opportunities for shareholders and members of both Native organizations. The intent is to provide business opportunities that will meet mutual objectives, including exploring business partnerships and investment opportunities in the region.

“This is a challenging time for Southeast Alaska but there is potential for developing innovative and sustainable economies in Southeast,” stated McNeil. “Collaboration amongst these Native institutions represents a new model to discovering solutions that will strengthen our region and benefit tribal members and Sealaska tribal member shareholders.”

Sealaska and Central Council will work to identify and evaluate strategic plans then consider acquisition or startup of operating enterprises. The primary goals of the MOU are to:
Research new opportunities to  improve the economic conditions of and employment opportunities for the  Tribe’s members and Sealaska’s tribal member shareholders
Generate revenue for the Tribe and  Sealaska
Enhance the Tribe’s economic  self-sufficiency and self-determination
Increase benefits and employment  opportunities for tribal members and Sealaska tribal member  shareholders
Enhance Sealaska’s access to  contract opportunities

“During this struggling economy it is important that we obtain maximum funding for our region through the stimulus act,” said Martin. “I look forward to the Tribe working cooperatively with Sealaska to bring economic and employment opportunities to our tribal citizens and shareholders.”

Central Council and Sealaska will focus on U.S. Small Business Administration 8(a) federal contracting and mentor/protégé programs, renewable energy projects, labor force training and deployment, tourism and community infrastructure development.

“The board of Directors, Sealaska management and our subsidiaries are working together to increase our economic activity in Southeast,” said Sealaska Director Tate London. “This MOU aligns well with that vision and is an important step that will build off the collective strength of Sealaska and Central Council,” said London.

Presidents Martin and McNeil’s vision is to jointly develop enhanced revenue for the Tribe and Sealaska through future partnerships. Sealaska and Central Council will initially focus on the opportunities available by passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus package).

Morgan Howard Productions video shown at Doyon Meeting

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Doyon website topMorgan Howard Productions produced a video entitled, “Working Together” which was shown to the shareholders at the Doyon Annual meeting.  The video highlights Doyon’s ongoing committment to providing employment opportunities to its shareholders.  President Norman L. Phillips wrote a great letter in the paper earlier in the weekn entitled, “Doyon grows into economic engine” about workforce development for shareholders and all Alaskans.

Four directors were elected this year.  Jennifer Fate, Michael Fleagle, Walter Carlo and Christopher Simon.  Fate and Fleagle were re-elected and Carol and Simon replace long-time board members Florence Carroll of Juneau and Michael Irwin of Anchorage.

Florence Carroll  was not present at the meeting.  She asked for her name to be removed from the nomination list.  Mike Irwin was at the meeting and spoke directly after the election results were announced.  He was very gracious, sincere and in good humor as he spoke about his 15 years on the Doyon board.  He talked about the recent serious concerns in regard to his health and how he is now nearly back to normal.  Great news.

Doyon, Limited, the Native regional corporation for Interior Alaska, is a for-profit corporation with more than 17,500 shareholders.

CIRI Wind farm on Fire Island is closer to reality

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Fire Island windmillsAccording to a adn.com’s “Our View” report… “Good news on the renewable energy front: Anchorage’s first commercial wind energy project is going to get significantly bigger. The wind farm planned for Fire Island will go back to its original size: 36 towers with a total capacity of 54 megawatts. That’s enough to power about 19,500 homes.”

Project developers previously had to scale back the wind farm by a third, to avoid electronic interference with Fire Island navigation equipment serving Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.Now the airport and the wind farm developers, local Native corporation CIRI and its partner enXco, are working on a plan to upgrade and move the navigation system to a site on the mainland.”

CIRI president and CEO Margie Brown announced in a newsletter last week:  “We learned in February that the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) does not object to replacing the existing VOR (navigation system) with an upgraded ‘dopplerized’ VOR located off island, provided a public comment period demonstrates that the airport does not object, that no user groups will be adversely affected, and that appropriate studies demonstrate that public safety will not be compromised.”CIRI spokesman Jim Jager said Tuesday the company sees no problem meeting those conditions. Putting the new system on the mainland, probably on airport property, will make it more reliable, easier to maintain, and easier for pilots to use, he said. The current equipment actually guides aircraft to Fire Island, not to the airport itself. “

Bering Straits Native Corporation invests in Wind Farm

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

Bering Straits Wind farmBering Straits Native Corp., which is the Alaska Native regional corporation for the Nome area, along with area village corporation Sitnasuak Native Corp. jointly own Banner Wind LLC.  Banner Wind built an 18-turbines wind farm in the Snake River Valley that has begun producing 10 percent of the energy needs in Nome.

The wind turbines, designed for cold weather and year-round operation, are similar to Kotzebue Electric Association’s 17-turbine wind farm. Kotzebue’s experience with similar turbine models has resulted in a savings of 100,000 gallons of diesel fuel per year, which at last year’s prices amounted to $250,000, and this year’s cost savings are expected to be well above $300,000.

For the full story, click here.