Beringia Settlement Trust


The Bering Straits Native Corporation Beringia Settlement Trust, a legally separate trust dedicated to providing benefits to BSNC shareholders, descendants and Alaska Native people, was created after shareholders overwhelmingly voted to approve a resolution establishing the Trust at the 2018 Annual Meeting of Shareholders.

Q&A

WHAT IS A SETTLEMENT TRUST?
Under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, Alaska Native Corporations can set up a special entity called a “Settlement Trust” that is legally separate from the Company and dedicated to providing benefits to shareholders, descendants and Alaska Native people. The purpose of a Settlement Trust is to provide for the health, education, cultural preservation and economic welfare of Alaska Native people and descendants who are the “beneficiaries” of the Settlement Trust.

WHO ARE THE BENEFICIARIES OF THE BERINGIA SETTLEMENT TRUST?
BSNC’s mission statement is “to improve the quality of life of our people through economic development while protecting our land and preserving our culture and heritage.” All of “our people” who benefit from BSNC programs will be beneficiaries of the Trust. For example, shareholders who receive dividends from BSNC will instead receive distributions from the Trust; Elders who receive Elder benefits from BSNC will receive those benefits from the Trust; family members entitled to receive bereavement from BSNC will receive that assistance from the Trust; descendants eligible to receive scholarships funded by BSNC may receive those scholarships through funding provided by the Trust.

CAN BSNC OR SOMEONE ELSE USE FUNDS FROM THE TRUST FOR BUSINESS INVESTMENT OR OPERATIONS? HOW IS THE TRUST PROTECTED?
No. Once funds or assets are contributed to the Trust they may only be used for the generation and distribution of benefits to the Trust beneficiaries. The Trust may not engage in active business operations. Funds or assets in the Trust must be invested and managed only for the purpose of providing benefits to the Trust beneficiaries.

DOES THE TRUST PAY SHAREHOLDER DIVIDENDS?
Yes. BSNC transfers funds to the Trust which then makes the distribution to the shareholders.

WHAT OTHER BENEFITS CAN THE TRUST PROVIDE?
A Settlement Trust can provide a broad range of benefits including, but not limited to, Elder distributions, scholarships, training and supporting cultural preservation.

WILL I HAVE TO PAY TAXES ON DISTRIBUTIONS FROM THE TRUST?
Distributions from the Trust can be made on a tax-free basis, and BSNC intends to ensure that the Trust is operated so that distributions to the beneficiaries will be tax-free.

WHERE DOES THE MONEY TO PUT INTO THE SETTLEMENT TRUST COME FROM AND WHO DECIDES HOW MUCH WILL BE PLACED INTO THE SETTLEMENT TRUST?
Funding of the Trust will come from BSNC. From time to time, the BSNC Board of Directors will decide how much money and what other BSNC assets should be contributed to the Trust.

HOW MUCH FINANCIAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE SETTLEMENT TRUST WILL BE COMMUNICATED TO SHAREHOLDERS?
Beneficiaries of the Settlement Trust, including shareholders, have a right to receive information about the Trust to the extent necessary to participate in a benefit program, as may be required by law, or as the Board of Trustees may determine. The financial statements of the Trust will be audited each year and an annual report will be prepared. The Board of Trustees will determine what information to communicate to shareholders and will coordinate with BSNC for including such information in corporate newsletters and other shareholder communications.

WHY DON’T SHAREHOLDERS GET TO VOTE ON WHO IS APPOINTED AS THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES?
Under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, the BSNC Board must appoint the Trustees.

WHO DECIDES WHAT ADDITIONAL BENEFITS ARE PROVIDED? DO SHAREHOLDERS GET TO VOTE ON NEW BENEFITS?
The Board of Trustees, in conjunction with the BSNC Board of Directors, will decide whether additional benefit programs will be administered by the Trust.

IF I WILL MY SHARES TO MY CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN, AFTER I DIE, WILL THEY RECEIVE DIVIDENDS ON MY SHARES FROM THE TRUST?
Yes.