Sealaska Updates Shareholders on Policy Efforts
Wednesday, September 27, 2023
On September 26, a virtual shareholder event focused on Sealaska’s policy efforts and how the company advocates for our traditional way of life. The Sealaska Policy Committee, known as Naxtoo.aat/Wayi Wah/Hágwsdaa – which translates to “Let’s Go!” in Lingít, Sm’algyax, and Xaad Kíl – was established by the board to drive change and ensure that shareholder priorities are met at the local, state, and federal levels.
The committee’s chair, ‘Wáahlaal Gíidaak Barbara Blake, Director Nicole Hallingstad, and Jaeleen Kookesh, Vice President of Public Policy and Legal Affairs, provided updates during the event. Some key updates included:
ANCSA Omnibus Bill: Over the past 52 years, ANCSA has undergone several amendments. Sealaska has been collaborating with stakeholders across the state for the past six months to identify potential amendments.
Farm Bill: Sealaska is closely monitoring this significant piece of legislation for funding opportunities that could benefit the region.
State funding for the Alaska Marine Highway System: The importance of the marine highway system in our communities throughout Southeast Alaska was discussed on how we need to continue to advocate for the appropriate funding for the system.
If you missed the virtual event, you could access an archive of it on MySealaska.com. Additionally, Sealaska addressed questions and comments from shareholders during the event.
Q: How is Sealaska supporting Alaska Native Vietnam-era Veterans Land Allotment Program?
A: Sealaska has been involved legislatively, advocating reopening the allotment Act, to allow those who were serving their country but missed the original application process to be eligible. That was approved and the program is open to all eligible Alaska Natives who served in the armed forces between Aug. 5, 1964, and Dec. 31, 1971. But the land available for allotment selections is not within the region. Sealaska continues to push this issue with the Alaska delegation. This is a top public policy priority with the board. We are advocating for adequate reparations for our native veterans who served in Vietnam.
PLEASE NOTE the program continues to seek connections from about 150 eligible veterans. The Bureau of Land Management Alaska has additional details and information on its website. Quick link here.
Q: Who is Sealaska supporting for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council Alaska Native Tribal Seat?
A: The North Pacific Fishery Management Council Alaska, Native Tribal Seat is an important voice at the table. The Tribal Seat is part of the NPFMC advisory panel. It’s important to find a viable candidate that can represent the Alaska Native voice.
Q: How can the blood quantum requirements of the Marine Mammal Protection Act evolve to support the Native community?
A: Amending MMPA would require all Alaska Natives coming together for a solution to the requirement. Federal leaders overseeing MMPA would like to a united approach to amendments, but the options discussed do not have full support from regions in the state. For example, Southeast may want to do away with the blood quantum requirement, while other regions in the state do not agree.