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Doyon prepares candidate report cards for Fairbanks mayoral race

September 15th, 2009 Posted By: Morgan Howard No Comments


Doyon_report_card(from Doyon.com)  In preparation for the Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB) mayoral election on October 6, Doyon recently distributed a questionnaire to the six mayoral candidates and prepared a report card based on all candidates’ responses to questions on topics including taxes, the economy, education, villages issues, and Alaska Native business involvement in FNSB discussions and decisions. The report card, which is part of Doyon’s Get Out the Native Vote initiative, is intended to educate voters on the issues and candidates, and encourage voters to “voice their choice” in the election next month. For the full report card, including candidates’ comments, click here to download.

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NANA Regional Corporation

May 12th, 2009 Posted By: Morgan Howard 2 Comments


The NANA region encompasses more than 38,000 square miles and is comprised of 11 villages

The NANA region encompasses more than 38,000 square miles and is comprised of 11 villages

Region

Comprised of 11 villages, the NANA Region is a vast, beautiful 38,000 square miles located in Northwest Alaska. The borders of our lands, and those of the region’s main governing body, the Northwest Arctic Borough, are the same and cover an area of land that is roughly the size of the state of Indiana. As a corporation, we manage the surface and subsurface rights of approximately 2.2 million acres of land in the region to the benefit of our 12,500 Iñupiat shareholders.

Shareholders

More than 7,300 people call the NANA region home. Of these, more than 85 percent of region’s residents are Iñupiat, descendants of the people who settled the region thousands of years ago. Subsistence plays a key role in the lives of shareholders. For centuries, the Iñupiat  have relied on hunting and fishing. For most families in the NANA region, the household economy is a mix of participation in  subsistence activities and full-time or part-time employment.

Subsistence is not just economic necessity – it also plays a strong cultural and social role – and the preservation of subsistence resources is a vital element of NANA shareholder cultural identity and values.

NANA Mission

We improve the quality of life for our people by maximizing economic growth, protecting and enhancing our lands, and promoting healthy communities with decisions, actions, and behaviors inspired by our Iñupiat Ilitqusiat values consistent with our core principles.

 NANA Lands

Today, NANA owns 2.28 million acres, or approximately 9.4 percent of the 24.3 million acres that comprise the NANA region. NANA  lands encompass an area that is roughly the size of Indiana. In 1972, a merger of the area’s regional corporation and ten of the eleven village corporations resulted in NANA’s ownership of both the surface and subsurface acreage, with the exception of the surface acreage Kikiktagruk Iñupiat Corporation (KIC) retained.The land selection and conveyance process is now largely completed, but the work of the NANA Lands Department continues to ensure that our rights are never again in question.

 Resources

 

Business Lines

NANA operations, which extend from the Arctic Circle to Antarctica across the continental United States to the Middle East and South Pacific, cover these four categories: engineering & construction; resource development; facilities management and logistics; and information technology and telecommunications. Our clients and partners are world-class professionals – petroleum and mining, private enterprise, and government operations.

Jobs at NANA – http://jobs.nana.com/careerscorp/

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Sealaska and Central Council sign historic agreement

April 1st, 2009 Posted By: Morgan Howard No Comments


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).

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Morgan Howard Productions video shown at Doyon Meeting

March 21st, 2009 Posted By: Morgan Howard No Comments


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.

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Heather Kendall-Miller being considered by Obama Administration

February 21st, 2009 Posted By: Morgan Howard No Comments


Heather Kendall-MillerAs reported earlier in this blog, Heather Kendall-Miller was on the short list for a new, high level position in the Obama Administration.  Now, Indian Country writes that she has been offered the job and is currently being vetted.  Kenall-Miller is Athabascan and a Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC) shareholder.

Heather Kendall-Miller’s life story is very interesting.  She dropped out of high school, married and started a family, lived in a remote cabin, went to Harvard and was friends with Barack Obama and argued in front of the US Supreme Court.  Some of that story is captured here.  This was taken from a Harvard Law Bulletin.

Heather Kendall-Miller ’91 took a winding road to Harvard Law School—and there were grizzlies and caribou along the way.

Kendall-Miller’s mother, a full-blooded Athabascan, met her father when he returned to Alaska after being stationed in the Aleutian Islands during World War II. But she died when her daughter was 2, cutting her off from her native roots.

Raised in Fairbanks, Kendall-Miller dropped out of high school and went to work on the Alaska Pipeline, homesteading in a remote valley in the mountains north of the Yukon River. At 17, she married, and she and her husband built a cabin on the land, heated it with water they piped in from a hot spring a quarter mile away.

“I look back fondly on those years,” Kendall-Miller recalls. “We were dropped off in the middle of nowhere and built our cabin in a beautiful valley in the Ray Mountains. It was a wonderful, magical place surrounded by grizzlies and caribou and moose. We had to fly in by float plane, air-drop our supplies over the cabin, and then land on a lake seven miles away and hike back to the cabin.”

Kendall-Miller became pregnant when she was 21 and lived in the cabin for another two years until her marriage collapsed. A single mother working construction on the Alaska Pipeline, she realized that her daughter needed a more stable life.

So at age 25, she enrolled at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, where she developed an interest in Native American rights. She graduated magna cum laude and, based on the recommendation of a professor, applied to Harvard Law School.

“I knew all along that I wanted to come back to practice in Alaska,” she says. “It was exciting to be around all these incredibly smart people who were so purposeful. I knew Harvard would give me the credentials I needed to focus my career the way I wanted to and help Native Alaskans when I got back.”

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

February 17th, 2009 Posted By: Morgan Howard No Comments


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.

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Jason Metrokin named President & CEO of Bristol Bay Native Corporation

January 16th, 2009 Posted By: Morgan Howard No Comments


Jason MetrokinJason Metrokin will serve Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC) as President and Chief Executive Officer effective today, January 16, 2009.

Mr. Metrokin replaces President/CEO Hjalmar Olson, who announced his retirement from BBNC on November 5, 2008 after sixteen years of service. Metrokin was the Director of Shareholder and Corporate Relations of BBNC as well as a director of the Board.

The appointment of Mr. Metrokin, age 36, marks the first time an Alaska Native Regional Corporation has employed a CEO that is was born after the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act enrollment date.  Metrokin is a descendant of an original shareholder and inherited his stock.  He joined BBNC in 2005 from the First Alaskans Institute where he served as Vice President of Development and an earlier career with National Bank of Alaska which later became Wells Fargo. His leadership experience is marked by his role as a founding member of the Alaska Native Professional Association, graduation from BBNC’s Training Without Walls, a management training program and service on several corporate and nonprofit governing boards.

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MHP works on Sealaska Shareholder Information Fair

December 17th, 2008 Posted By: Morgan Howard No Comments


Morgan Howard Productions was pleased to play a small part in the success of the 2008 Sealaska Information Fair held in Juneau, Alaska on November 25th.  Please view photos here.

Sealaska Fair

Jason Fujioka works with a Sealaska Shareholder.  Fujioka is the Director of Diversity Sales and Marketing in the Office of Diversity Solutions.
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Alaska Native Corporations may lose advocate in Senator Stevens

October 29th, 2008 Posted By: Morgan Howard No Comments


The New York Times



October 30, 2008

Facing a Loss in Alaska

The Alaska Native corporations have had Senator Ted Stevens to thank nearly every step of the way.

In 1971, a few years after he was first elected to the Senate, Mr. Stevens helped write the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. Also known as the “Billion Dollar Deal,” the act established more than 200 corporations to manage almost 45 million acres and gave $962 million to Alaska Natives in return for their ceding of all aboriginal land rights.

When the Alaska Native corporations struggled in their early years as they tried to turn people who had survived on fishing and hunting into business managers and to teach thousands of villagers to call themselves shareholders, Senator Stevens was there, too.

He helped corporations with financial difficulties by persuading Congress to approve a provision in the 1986 Tax Reform Act allowing the corporations to sell their accumulated tax losses to profitable companies seeking tax write-offs.

That same year, Senator Stevens introduced legislation that allowed Alaska Native corporations to participate in a Small Business Administration 8(a) contracting program, a provision that has proven lucrative to many of them.

And just a month ago, in the wake of questions that some of the corporations were misusing the contracting program, he successfully pushed Congress to remove a provision from the 2009 Defense Authorization Act that would have limited their access.

After his conviction on Monday on charges he violated federal ethics laws by failing to report tens of thousands of dollars in gifts and services he had received from friends, Senator Stevens’s future in Congress is uncertain.

But Louis A. Thompson, 72, who has run one of the corporations, Kavilco Inc., for 36 years, said the companies had grown into sophisticated operations that could stand on their own. “Senator Stevens was very helpful early on and not just to Alaska Native corporations, to all Alaskans,” he said. “But times have changed.”

Indeed, the Alaska Native corporations have made strides since the early days, when they built seafood plants before negotiating for fish deliveries and constructed hotels in remote villages that had never seen tourists. Today, they consistently rank among state’s largest businesses. The small-business 8(a) contracting program has been important to that success.

As of May, 187 Alaska Native-owned companies were participating in the 8(a) program, according to a report by the Small Business Administration’s Office of Inspector General. From 2000 to 2006, Alaska Native corporations won nearly $13 billion in federal contracts.

Maver E. Carey, 41, the leader of one of those corporations, sees the federal contracts as the future of her business. And other small corporations are looking to her to help them navigate the complicated and expensive path to federal business.

Her enterprise, the Kuskokwim Corporation, represents Aniak and nine other remote Alaska communities. Its responsibilities cover a geographic area larger than New England, but without cellphone towers, major road systems or many jobs. “In Kalskag, one of our largest villages, there are 80 homes and 40 of them don’t have running water,” Ms. Carey said.

Kuskokwim’s 2,903 shareholders want regular corporate dividends, and many also seek educational and employment opportunities from the corporation.

Kuskokwim was founded in 1977 when 10 village corporations decided that they did not have the staff or resources to build businesses alone. The merged entity formed a headquarters in Anchorage and eked out dividends primarily through investments in Alaska real estate and a conservative portfolio of stocks and bonds.

Ms. Carey, whose maternal grandparents are Yupik Eskimo and Athabascan Indian, turned to Kuskokwim in 1994 after earning a college degree, working for an engineering firm and being laid off. “My village corporation offered me $9 an hour and I took it thinking I’d continue to look for a real job,” she said. By 2003, after she had worked in every corporate department, the board asked her to become the chief executive.

She pushed diversification, with a goal of building Kuskokwim’s shareholder equity to $100 million by 2015. Last year, it topped $18 million, up from $14 million in 2006. In 2005, the company started TKC Development Inc. to focus on federal contracting. TKC subsidiaries have won work from the United States Navy and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Last year, Ms. Carey started an Alaska Native village corporation association. Her inspiration came from conversations with other chief executives facing challenges similar to her own. A membership drive under way has registered about 50 Native corporation executives.

Their goal is to be as successful as the Afognak Native Corporation, one of Alaska’s largest businesses. Afognak is owned by 700 shareholders descended from the Alutiiq people of the Kodiak Archipelago. In 2006, its profits reached $18.8 million on revenue of $537.9 million, the latest figures available. That year, each shareholder received a dividend payment of $21,688. Afognak employs 5,000 people globally, and about 50 of them are shareholders.

Afognak is now run by a non-native chief executive with significant government experience. It won the first of its major contracts in 2000, when it secured a deal to operate Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. In recent years, it has won a contract to build a brigade combat team complex worth more than $100 million at Fort Bragg, N.C., and another worth more than $50 million to renovate the United States Embassy in São Paulo.

Still, there have been questions about the 8(a) contracts that have gone to Afognak and other Alaska Native companies. A 2006 study by the federal Government Accountability Office called for better S.B.A. supervision of Alaska Native corporations that hold 8(a) contracts. The agency’s inspector general is currently conducting an audit of S.B.A. oversight of 10 to 15 of the largest Alaska Native corporations engaged in federal contracting.

In August, it found that two companies, Goldbelt Raven L.L.C., owned by Goldbelt Inc. of Juneau, and APM L.L.C., a subsidiary of the Cape Fox Corporation of Ketchikan, violated terms of the contracting program by entering into agreements that resulted in millions of dollars in 8(a) revenues being paid to companies owned by non-native managers. The administration suspended them from the program and moved to end their eligibility. Both companies are appealing the move, according to officials representing Goldbelt and APM.

Steve Colt, the interim director at the Institute of Social and Economic Research at University of Alaska, who has studied Alaska Native corporations, said that many of the corporations struggled to stay afloat in their first two decades of operations and that Mr. Stevens and the rest of the Alaska delegation worked hard to keep them in business.

“If you look at the historical record, there were lots of incidents of Stevens being very helpful to Alaska Native corporations,” Mr. Colt said. “But I suspect that the number of assists has decreased over time.” He predicted that whoever holds the United States Senate seat for Alaska in the future will fight for legislation that protects Alaska Native corporations because they now have a major impact on the state’s economy.

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Hoonah Totem Corp. succeeds in Tourism destination

October 17th, 2008 Posted By: Morgan Howard No Comments


Hoonah Builds Tourism hotspot, avoids tourist trap

By Charles L. Westmoreland
Capital City Weekly/Morris News Service-Alaska
Publication Date: 10/19/08
HOONAH – Huna Totem Corp. opened Icy Strait Point to cruise ships in 2004 with some apprehension. At the time Hoonah’s reputation was that of a quiet, pristine fishing and logging community; untouched by the flamboyant commercialism of other Southeast Alaska ports.

Like many remote Alaska villages, with local jobs dwindling away, a new viable source of income was needed. But marketing Hoonah as a tourism hotspot without turning it into a tourism trap was a challenge.

Tourists who disembark at Icy Strait Point, an early 20th century cannery located a few miles outside Hoonah, at first were kept away from the heart of the town so as to not disturb the everyday life of residents. But Hoonah’s 850 citizens didn’t just embrace their new role of host to as many as 2,500 travelers daily – they craved more direct involvement.

“At first everybody was deeply concerned about tourism coming to town because of what (Hoonah) could turn into,” said Bob Wysocki, CEO of Huna Totem, a Native corporation formed by the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. “People quickly realized the impact wasn’t like everywhere else. Folks went from being concerned too many people would be in town to (Huna Totem) getting a lot of heat for not enough people coming into town. The community really opened up and embraced it.”

Wysocki said Huna Totem has allowed only one cruise ship to port each day, though he is looking at the possibility of allowing two ships at a time next season. Hoonah saw a drop off from 80 ships in 2007 to 59 last year due to scheduling conflictions among cruise lines.

“We’re not just about the mighty buck and bringing in three or four ships a day,” Wysocki said. “That just wouldn’t work. We’d burn out our employees and risk guest satisfaction.”

Hoonah has been an easy destination for Wysocki to market. Chichagof Island has one of Alaska’s highest concentrations of brown bears, and nearby Point Adolphus is known as one of the richest humpback whale feeding grounds in Southeast Alaska. Tourism activities are enhanced by the village’s remoteness and other factors, such as Hoonah’s predominantly Alaska Native population, and how subsistence hunting and fishing remain a staple of everyday life.

Huna Totem uses that cultural authenticity to its advantage, involving elders and youth in the showcasing, storytelling and presentation of their history, artwork, values and lifestyles to travelers. Many of Huna Totem’s 130 workers wear their Tlingit name on their badges next to their English name.

Faggen Skaflestad, a lifelong Hoonah resident and owner of Janaggan Touring and Guiding, said little has changed in the town in the past five seasons.

“It’s nice having (Icy Strait Point) out the road because tourism hasn’t changed the town,” he said. “As far as the economy, (tourism) definitely hasn’t hurt us. I believe next year will be the telltale of what will transpire.”

Tourism may very well have saved Hoonah after the village saw its fishing and logging industries dwindle during the 1980s and 1990s. Icy Strait Point employs about a quarter of the Hoonah’s population, most of whom also are shareholders in Huna Totem.

“We’ve maintained about 90 percent local hire and 85 percent Native hire over our five-year history,” Wysocki said. “With most Alaska villages declining in population and economic activity, Hoonah and Icy Strait Point stand out as proof that a culture can be maintained and that an economic base can be built providing jobs that keep the village and culture alive.”

Huna Totem Corp. purchased Icy Strait Point in 1996, and it is now home to more than a dozen locally owned and operated shops, including four restaurants, a museum, theatre and gift shops. Huna Totem invested millions in the project, to include building the world’s largest zipline, but Wysocki was hesitant to disclose how much money has been invested so far.

Huna Totem’s practice of hiring locally and creating business opportunities for the community earned it the Travel Industry Association and National Geographic Traveler magazine’s “Travel to a Better World” award this month for sustaining an indigenous culture and community. Hoonah’s seasonal unemployment has dropped below 1 percent since Icy Strait Point reopened.

“Darn near anybody who wants a job has got one,” Wysocki said. “If you can show up, be clean and straight and come to work every day, we hire just about anybody who walks through the door.”

Hoonah Mayor Dennis Gray said tourism has done more than just create job opportunities; it also has led to much-needed infrastructure improvements in the town. A new ferry terminal will be built next year and a 220-ton boatlift is expected to be operational by next summer.

“We’ve seen a few local business owners open gift shops and other stores,” Gray said. “People have disposable income to go shopping and are keeping dollars in town and putting them into the economy. (Tourism) saved the city in sales tax and revenue.”

Hoonah Harbormaster Paul Dybdahl anticipates more businesses moving in once the projects are completed. He’s already seen an increase in independent charter vessels trying to cash in on Hoonah’s tourism.

“I see the infrastructure changing even more,” he said. “Mechanics, fiberglass workers and shipwrights will need shops to support (the lift). We’ve already had people who perform these services call about setting up shop.”

Dybdahl’s brother, Johan Dybdahl, oversees special projects for Icy Strait Point and said the cannery is finished expanding for now. The infrastructure can accommodate up to 5,000 visitors at a time, and with cruise ships expected to dock five days a week next season, its limits will be tested. That’s especially if tourists keep making return visits.

“This year we had a lot of people come back because they visited once before, and they keep telling us not to change a thing,” he said. “They really appreciate getting on the ground and skipping rocks on the beach, going into the forest to see wildlife. Some even claim we control our whales because we haven’t missed on a whale watching tour in five seasons now.”

http://www.alaskajournal.com/stories/101908/hom_20081019011.shtml

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