Public Process Helped to Guide Sealaska Land Legislation

Jaeleen Araujo

The Sealaska land legislation is an amendment to a forty year old act of Congress, but a lengthy public outreach process involving more than 225 meetings with local Southeast Alaska communities, stakeholders and organizations has set the stage for this legislation in 2011.

For the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian peoples whose land was taken by the stroke of President Teddy Roosevelt’s pen in 1906, there was no advance warning, or consultation. Sealaska, in recovering the last ancestral lands that it was promised under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) wasn’t about to make the same mistake by plowing forward without public input.

The public discussion has improved the legislation that now awaits re-introduction to Congress. For example, the legislation will provide unprecedented public access to the 85,000 acres expected to be restored to Sealaska. Access will be maintained on trails and roads to and through the land for subsistence and recreational uses.

In meetings both public and private, Sealaska heard that the people who have made their homes in Southeast Alaska connect with the land, and want to have recreational opportunities on it.

Out of respect for that desire, Sealaska worked with Alaska’s senators Murkowski and Begich and changed or dropped numerous Native future sites—land designated for non-timber economic development uses in the future—from every community affected. Finally, Sealaska’s timber operations, which include older young growth, will speed its transition to second growth forestry, and high conservation areas, such as the Situk River corridor, will remain in the Tongass National Forest because of what we have learned inside and outside our communities.

Sealaska is proud to count numerous Southeast organizations, as strong supporters of Sealaska’s efforts to protect high-value conservation areas of the Tongass National Forest, and to create and protect much needed jobs in a region with extremely high unemployment. These supporters share concerns with Sealaska that failure to pass this legislation will result in the loss of 400 jobs and potentially threaten high-value conservation areas important to local communities.

Settling aboriginal land claims has never been easy. For Alaska Natives, claims often mean giving up more ancestral land than they keep. But the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian tribal member shareholders of Sealaska made a deal in 1971 that led to the formation of Sealaska Corporation and receipt of lands to fulfill the promise of ANCSA to create sustainable economies. To keep these jobs, and provide for the future economic benefit of both its tribal member shareholders and the other Southeast residents, Sealaska has focused its land requests on land suitable for a sustainable timber operation and other land suitable for economic development.

Of course, this legislation is not just about economics. Sealaska is using some of its land entitlement to secure Native ownership of our important sacred and cultural properties.

We have kept an open door of communication because, while the passage of ANCSA guaranteed this last four tenths of one percent of the Tongass Region to Sealaska four decades ago, the ideas about how we, as a country, manage our lands and forests has changed in the last 40 years. Now we focus our timber harvest on sustainability, and multiple uses that include the protection of watersheds that provide drinking water to local communities. Now we, Sealaska, and Alaska’s congressional delegation hold conversations with stakeholders because we know that it is possible to balance the needs of many for the benefit of all. And we hold council also because it is our way as Alaska Natives.

This is the spirit of the legislation that senators Murkowski and Begich, and Representative Don Young, advanced in the last Congress. The legislation that we look to our congressional delegation to take forward in 2011 was shaped by the people who participated in every one of the 225 meetings we held in Southeast Alaska.

Our Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian ancestors taught us that we would have to pull together to survive in our unique region of the world, and it is in this spirit of pulling together that we sought the advice and input of Southeast businesses and residents. We will continue the conversation as our land legislation moves forward because, in Southeast Alaska, our economic future is entwined with that of our neighbors.

Jaeleen Araujo is Sealaska’s vice president and general counsel, a board member for the Alaska Native Heritage Center, and a member of Alaska Bar Association and D.C. Bar Association. She is Athabascan and Tlingit, Raven, Dog Salmon (L’eeneidí).

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ravenshadow's picture
The American Indian Freedom of Religion Act, Historic Preservation Act, Antiquities Act, and NAGPRA Act and Forest Service Sacred Sites Policy all support the right of Indigenous People of Southeast Alaska to manage, protect, monitor and own sacred sites on the Tongass. For this reason I applaud Sealaska for moving forward in getting sacred sites under Alaska Native management. The passage of ANCSA four decades ago also supports this effort and has nothing to do with the previous comments posted by "Letmypeoplego"
letmypeoplego's picture
May I direct readers to the video "Hoonah's Legacy" at You tube. See for yourself Sealaska's respect for "Our land."
sealaskashareholder's picture
You may applaud Sealaska management of sacred sites, but some of the tribes in Southeast Alaska don't agree. Don't you think the actual tribes and clans should be able to decide? Currently they have control over the site through government to government arrangements. From an Alaska radio story on the subject. The earlier sacred sites list included numerous locations throughout Southeast Alaska, many of them on Prince of Wales Island. One, in an arm of Kasaan Bay, contains petroglyphs. Another, off El Capitan Passage, is a burial site. And some are not favored for selection by tribal groups. "It just seems that this is another mechanism, a back-door approach, to get what they’re seeking," said Sam Thomas, president of the Craig Community Association, the Prince of Wales city’s tribal government. He said Sealaska should not be entitled to the sites listed on the map that was part of the earlier version of the legislation. "I feel if you’re going to go back to those provisions. We, the four tribes on Prince of Wales Island, would like to see this map used as a non-selection area for those sacred sites," he said.
letmypeoplego's picture
More examples of Sealaska's deceptions to it's own shareholders. I would need access to all Sealaska proxy statements and annual reports. I would need the records about our natural resources and how much have been sold and the prices the assets were sold at. Appraisals of properties sold and who the buyers were. Donations,costs and benefits paid to those in management and Boards of directors. The purpose of my request is transparency where we Shareholders know more about corporate transactions so we can make educated decisions affecting our rights as shareholders and stock values. Sealaska / shareholder RESPONSE; As I have communicated to you on several occasions, over many years, all other documentation you request below is not among the books and records of account available to shareholders. They are confidential and proprietary documents pertaining to the operations of Sealaska and to the compensation of individuals, which is information protected by state and federal privacy laws. VP Sealaska Corp. That from a management that cost almost three quarters of a million dollars per month. Dividends now stand at 65 cents per day. Correction Sealaska's CEO made $3,750 per day in 2009.
letmypeoplego's picture
Sealaska Shareholders Underground Sealaska violated ANCSA law by claiming in their 2009 proxy statement that it isn't necessary to hire proxy workers because they pay a incentive of $25 on returned proxies, totaling $333,000.00 in 2009. This is done to blunt criticism for buying proxies. When management attained quorum in the 2009 election they didn't have enough discretionary vote to re elect Marge Young, a thirty year Board Member. I have reason to believe that the Term Limits Resolution had pasted, discretionary votes do not count on Resolutions. Passage would have replaced eleven of thirteen Board Members within two years, (Sealaska won't respond to the question of the status of the Resolution at the time quorum was reached). Sealaska began a whirlwind statewide campaign to get Shareholders to change their vote after quorum was achieved costing an additional $125,000.00. That campaign included the hiring of proxy workers, violating the law under false and misleading statements. Forty eight managers and directors have pocketed six hundred and fifty five thousand dollars per month ever since. With Sealaska's CEO making twenty seven hundred plus dollars a day. Dividends from Operations and the now named Marge Young Permanent Fund paid one hundred and twenty dollars for six months. The U.S. Postal service was used in the Proxy Solicitation. THE LAW Alaska Administrative code- Proxy Solicitations Sec. 3 AAC 08.315. False or misleading statements. (a) A solicitation may not be made by means of a proxy statement, proxy, notice of meeting, or other communication that contains a material misrepresentation. A misrepresentation is a statement that, at the time and under the circumstances in which it is made (1) is false or misleading with respect to a material fact; (2) omits a material fact necessary in order to make a statement made in the solicitation not false or misleading; or (3) omits a material fact necessary to correct a statement, in an earlier communication regarding the solicitation of a proxy for the same meeting or subject matter, which has become false or misleading. A misrepresentation is material if there is substantial likelihood that a reasonable shareholder would consider it important in deciding how to vote. A series of statements or omissions that are objectively false or misleading, but which might not be material misrepresentations if considered separately, might be material misrepresentations if there is a substantial likelihood that a reasonable shareholder would consider the series important in deciding how to vote. Subjective proof that one or more shareholders actually granted a proxy because of a misrepresentation is not required. The following are some examples of what, depending upon particular facts and circumstances, might be misleading within the meaning of 3 AAC 08.305--3 AAC 08.365: (1) predictions as to specific future market values; (2) material that directly or indirectly impugns character, integrity, or personal reputation, or directly or indirectly makes charges concerning improper, illegal, or immoral conduct or associations, without factual foundation; (3) failure to identify a proxy statement, proxy, or other soliciting material so as to distinguish it clearly from the soliciting material of any other person soliciting for the same meeting or subject matter; (4) claims made before a meeting regarding the results of a solicitation; and (5) regarding the election of directors, failure to disclose the existence of an agreement or understanding among two or more nominees, proxy holders, or other participants with respect to voting of proxies, and failure to disclose the material provisions of such an agreement or understanding, in circumstances where such participants appear to solicit proxies independently or where there is no apparent affiliation among such participants. (b) The fact that a proxy statement, proxy, or other soliciting material has been filed with or examined by the administrator under AS 45.55.139 is not a finding by the administrator that the material is accurate or complete or not false or misleading, or that the administrator has passed upon the merits of or approved any statement contained in the solicitation or any matter to be acted upon by shareholders. No representation to the contrary may be made. (c) The administrator may require a person who has brought to his attention a solicitation which the person believes contains materially false or misleading statements to explain the reasons for his view in writing. [Eff. 1-4-81, Reg. 77; 11-27-88, Reg. 108] Authority: AS 45.55.138, AS 45.55.139, AS 45.55.160, AS 45.55.170, AS 45.55.240 THE VIOLATION 9/29/2009 Ms.Araujo, Your response makes the statement made on page thirty seven of "Sealaska Corporation 2009 Notice of Annual Meeting and Proxy statement " under the headline Proxy Solicitation. Sealaska's Corporation 2009 Proxy Solicitation Statement. The Corporation makes a one-time payment to each shareholder who submits a valid proxy by the proxy deadline or who attends and votes at the annual meeting. This payment has been $25 since the proxy incentive was established in 1995, except for the one-time increase in 2007 to highlight the importance of voting on the shareholder resolutions. The maximum expense to the Corporation of this $25 payment per voting shareholder is approximately $450,000, but may be less, depending upon the number of shareholders who actually vote. This payment is an incentive to shareholders to vote, and enables the Corporation to achieve a quorum and save other proxy solicitation costs. By using proxy incentive payments, the Corporation does not need to use proxy workers, reduces the cost of repeated mailings and increases shareholder participation in the election process. Under the rules set forth by the Banking and Securities Div. of the State of Alaska regarding oversight of election this is clearly a violation of the rules in regards to false and misleading statements. Could you provide me with the amount paid out in costs to provide for the maximum vote for the Board of Directors slate after quorum was reached? Dominic Salvato CONFORMATION of the violation Mr. Salvato: This responds to your email of September 21 to Nicole Hallingstad. Nicole has been away from her office on annual leave. Prior to achieving quorum, discussions occurred at the Board level regarding the use of proxy workers in order to maximize shareholder participation, although the actual hiring was not finalized until after quorum was achieved. It is within the Board’s authority to use “other methods of solicitation for its proxy materials as it deems necessary or prudent in order to attain a quorum of shareholders for the annual meeting and to provide for the maximum vote for the Board of Directors’ slate.” See Sealaska Bylaws The Corporation was within its authority to use other methods of solicitation, including the hiring of proxy workers. The combination of incentive payments and using a few proxy workers increases shareholder participation in the voting. The additional cost of using some paid workers was still below the projected overall cost of proxy solicitation. Jaeleen Araujo V.P. and General Counsel Sealaska Corporation One Sealaska Plaza, Suite 400 *This an attempt to convince me that Sealaska by-laws trump State and Federal law. THE COVER UP (Not included in the complaint as the complaint had already been filed) Sealaska 2010 Proxy Solicitation The expense of preparing and mailing the notice of meeting, proxy statement and proxy will be borne by the Corporation. Mail solicitation of proxies may be supplemented with telephone, facsimile or personal solicitation of proxies by the Corporation’s officers, employees and nominees at no additional compensation. Radio, television and newspaper advertisements may also be used to solicit proxies, and the Corporation may compensate certain persons for time spent in telephoning shareholders to remind them to vote. Nominees requested to seek proxies on behalf of the Corporation will be reimbursed for travel and expenses only. The Corporation will also bear the cost of certain mail solicitation by independent nominees whose names appear on the Corporation’s proxy. Such independent nominees shall not receive any other reimbursement of expenses, but may incur such expenses on their own behalf. The Corporation makes a one-time payment of $25 to each shareholder who submits a valid proxy by the proxy deadline, or who attends and votes at the annual meeting. The maximum expense to the Corporation of this $25 payment per voting shareholder is approximately $483,075 if all voting shareholders vote, but is likely to be less, depending upon the number of shareholders who actually do vote. (Historically, about 70% of shareholders vote and this would result in a payment expense of approximately $338,153 in 2010.) The voting incentive payment is intended to encourage shareholder participation in the election process, but Sealaska’s Bylaws also allow the Corporation to use proxy workers for the purpose of maximizing shareholder participation and support for the Board of Directors’ slate. The total amount estimated to be spent by the Corporation on the solicitation of proxies is expected to exceed the amounts which the Corporation would normally spend for an election of Directors, in the absence of a contest, by approximately $100,000, excluding the salaries and wages of regular employees and officers. The 2010 proxy statement wasn't included in the complaint. Various mailings as part of Managements campaign to get shareholders to change their vote were included. I interrupt the 2010 proxy statement as a confession of what management did illegally in 2009.