2020 Census

Participating in the Census determines how billions of federal dollars will be spent over the next 10 years. Historically, Alaska Natives have been hard to count. As a result, tribal programs—like Head Start—have been underfunded. If you’re Alaska Native, you can help our communities and families get our fair share by answering two questions.

  • The first question asks you to identify your ‘race?’
  • If you check the ‘American Indian or Alaska Native’ box, the second question asks you to list your ‘tribal affiliation.’

Alaska Native people can answer the ‘tribal affiliation’ question different ways, however; BSNC encourages you to list your federally recognized tribe.

  • If you can’t remember the name for your tribe, you can write in the name of your village.
  • You can even write in more than one tribe (or village) if you associate with more than one.

Here is the list of federally recognized tribes in the Bering Strait region:

Native Village of Brevig Mission
Native Village of Council
Native Village of Diomede (Inalik)
Native Village of Elim
Native Village of Gambell
Chinik Eskimo Community (Golovin)
King Island Native Community
Native Village of Koyuk
Native Village of Mary’s Igloo
Nome Eskimo Community
Native Village of Saint Michael
Native Village of Savoonga
Native Village of Shaktoolik
Native Village of Shishmaref
Village of Solomon
Stebbins Community Association
Native Village of Teller
Native Village of Unalakleet
Native Village of Wales
Native Village of White Mountain

The 2020 Census is here – make sure you are counted.

Record of Decision (ROD) North River Radio Relay Station; Unalakleet, Alaska

Record of Decision (ROD)
North River Radio Relay Station; Unalakleet, Alaska

Eagle Eye Electric (a Bering Straits Company)

This ROD Amendment documents a change to the remedy selected for the cleanup of contaminated soil at the North River Radio Relay Station site. As the lead agency, the United States Air Force (USAF) has selected a new remedy, Offsite Disposal of Contaminated Soil, Capping, and Land-Use Controls (LUCs), for Sites SS001 (Area C) and SS003 (Area A). This remedy was chosen in accordance with CERCLA, as amended by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) of 1986, and, to the extent practicable, with the National Contingency Plan (NCP) (Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations [CFR], Part 300 et seq. [40 CFR 300 et seq.]). The response actions selected in this ROD amendment are necessary to protect the public health or welfare or the environment from actual or threatened releases of hazardous substances into the environment. The USAF is committed to implementing, monitoring, maintaining, and enforcing all components of the selected remedy to ensure that it remains protective of human health and the environment.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Robert Johnston, Project Manager
AFCEC/OLAR
Robert.johnston.17@us.af.mil
1-800-222.4137 (toll-free)
907-552-7193 (direct)

Click here to view the ROD

2020 Census: List of Federally Recognized Tribes in the Bering Strait Region

As you may know, the 2020 Census began here in Alaska on Jan. 21, 2020 in Toksook Bay. The Census is quick, important and confidential and takes about 10 minutes but the results determine how billons of federal dollars will be spent over the next 10 years.

If you’re Alaska Native, you can help our communities and families get our fair share of federal funding by answering a two-part question on the Census questionnaire. The first part asks you to identify your ‘race?’ If you check the ‘American Indian or Alaska Native’ box, the second question asks you to list your ‘tribal affiliation.’ You will then write in your tribe(s).

Here is the list of federally recognized tribes in the Bering Strait region:

Native Village of Brevig Mission
Native Village of Council
Native Village of Diomede (Inalik)
Native Village of Elim
Native Village of Gambell
Chinik Eskimo Community (Golovin)
King Island Native Community
Native Village of Koyuk
Native Village of Mary’s Igloo
Nome Eskimo Community
Native Village of Saint Michael
Native Village of Savoonga
Native Village of Shaktoolik
Native Village of Shishmaref
Village of Solomon
Stebbins Community Association
Native Village of Teller
Native Village of Unalakleet
Native Village of Wales
Native Village of White Mountain

The 2020 Census is here – make sure you are counted.

Historical Spotlight: The Ancient Art of Traditional Tattooing

In the past decade, Inuit women revitalized the ancient art of traditional tattooing. The practice dates back at least 10,000 years and involves skin stitching or hand-poke/stickand-poke. Ethnographically, tattooing was practiced by all Inuit but was most common among women and would commemorate an achievement or reaching a certain milestone in life. During the influx of Western civilization in the 19th and 20th centuries, many Inuit were prohibited from practicing the ritual. In 1926, the University of Alaska archaeologist Otto W. Geist (1927-34: n.p.) noted:

“The pigment is made from the soot of seal oil lamps which is taken from the bottom of tea kettles or similar containers used to boil meat and other food over an open flame,” said Geist. “The soot is mixed with urine, often that of an old woman, and is applied with steel needles. One method is to draw a string of sinew or other thread through the eye of the needle. The thread is then soaked thoroughly in the liquid pigment and drawn through the skin as the needle is inserted and pushed just under the skin for a distance of about a thirty-second of an inch when the point is again pierced through the skin. A small space is left without tattooing before the process is again repeated. The other method is to prick the skin with the needle, which is dipped in the pigment each time.”

Yaari Toolie-Walker of Savoonga was one of the first Alaska Native women to revive the tradition in recent history by receiving her traditional chin tattoo more than 10 years ago. She has inspired many women to continue the tradition. BSNC descendant Marjorie Tahbone has also received her chin tattoo and is helping to revitalize the tradition by becoming a traditional tattoo artist.
“We need to bring back our culture and our celebrations and our festivals, ways that we were able to cope with mourning, with death or being able to acknowledge a boy becoming a man and a girl becoming a woman – those ceremonies are important to a healthy society and those were taken from us,” said Tahbone. “And so my motivation is to make sure that they come back in a healthy, strong way and people feel that they’re theirs.”

Geist, O.W. 1927-34. Field Notes. On File, Alaska and Polar Regions Archives, University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

Winter 2019

A Message from the President & CEO

Winter is a great time of the year. Our traditions, which include ice fishing, celebrating holidays and spending precious time with family, make the season special and memorable. As we approach a new decade, we have much to be thankful for. We are especially thankful for our Elders and shareholders who provided strong support to the Board and management as we worked to grow BSNC and our subsidiary operations.

BSNC held its 2019 Annual Meeting of Shareholders in Nome on October 5. On behalf of BSNC, I am pleased to welcome Cindy Towarak Massie to the BSNC Board of Directors. Cindy has demonstrated exceptional devotion to the advancement of BSNC’s shareholders and descendants through her and her husband’s philanthropic support of the Bering Straits Foundation. Cindy’s business experience and perspective will provide a valuable perspective to BSNC and the Board of Directors.

BSNC has already funded the BSNC Beringia Settlement Trust in the amount of $37,781,857, and issued a record-high dividend distribution via direct deposit and check on November 25, two weeks earlier than the 2018 dividend distribution. The dividend was declared by the BSNC Board of Directors in August and is paid through the BSNC Beringia Settlement Trust. Because the dividend was paid through the Settlement Trust, it is tax-free to all shareholders. In addition, an Elder dividend distribution of $1,500 was sent to all original BSNC shareholders who were 65 years of age or older on November 4, 2019, the date of record.

Many shareholders commented on social media that they received their dividends sooner than expected. This was because BSNC now offers direct deposit through the new MyBSNC Shareholder Portal. There are many benefits to signing up for direct deposit, including earlier receipt of dividend payments and other distributions from the Settlement Trust. MyBSNC also gives shareholders quick access to their shareholder information, the ability to conveniently update address and contact preferences, and view dividends and distributions made by BSNC. I encourage all shareholders to sign up for MyBSNC through the BSNC website.

There were many inquiries at the Annual Meeting about the Alaska Native Veterans Allotment Act. If you or your family member(s) served in Vietnam between August 5, 1964 and December 31, 1971, please contact Kawerak Land Management Services so that Kawerak can assist qualified veterans or their surviving family members in applying for a Native Allotment. BSNC thanks and honors our Nation’s military veterans for their service.

Subsistence remains critical to our Shareholders’ survival and cultural identity. We all know that Alaska Native people have a special connection to the land. With that in mind, we have been tracking the efforts of IPOP, LLC, a mining company that has announced plans to explore for gold in the Safety Sound, Bonanza Channel and Golovin Lagoon. They hope to produce a TV show based upon their exploration and development efforts. We stand ready to assist our villages which would be impacted by this ill-conceived project by working with our Congressional Delegation and other regional entities to oppose this effort.

I have been privileged to participate with AFN and other entities in a series of presentations about the Arctic through the Alaska Command Arctic Symposium. It is clear that the Arctic has been recognized as a critical and strategic location as climate change opens the region to increased marine and aviation traffic. I continue to advocate for an Arctic policy that supports strengthening national security and defense in the BSNC region, while ensuring that our way of life is not dramatically and adversely impacted.

BSNC is blessed to be able to provide enhanced benefits to our shareholders and descendants, and fulfill our mission to improve the quality of life of Our People through economic development while protecting our land and preserving our culture and heritage. I thank you for your continued support. I hope everyone enjoys the winter season
safely. Quyaana.

Gail R. Schubert
BSNC President & CEO

BSNC and BSF Announce Awardee of Tim Towarak Memorial Scholarship

BSNC is pleased to announce Charlene Aqpik Apok as the 2019 awardee of the Bering Straits Foundation’s (BSF) newly-created Tim Towarak Memorial Scholarship. The Tim Towarak Memorial Scholarship is a new $10,000 merit-based competitive scholarship awarded by BSF annually to one high-performing student enrolled in an accredited college or university. The scholarship honors the late Tim Towarak, who worked tirelessly to advocate for Alaska Native people.

“This scholarship honors the many contributions of the late Tim Towarak to our company and Region,” said BSNC President & CEO Gail R. Schubert. “He worked tirelessly to protect Native peoples’ subsistence rights. Charlene’s commitment to advancing and serving indigenous peoples is apparent to me through her academic achievements, devotion to gaining knowledge as a PhD in Indigenous Studies candidate, and through her work in health-related clinical research benefitting Alaska Native people.”

“BSF is very proud to present the inaugural Tim Towarak Memorial Scholarship to Charlene Apok and thankful to BSNC for establishing the scholarship,” said BSF Board Chair Jed Ballard. “We are looking forward to celebrating all the great accomplishments Charlene will make for our culture and region.”

“I would like to express my deep gratitude to the board of BSF and BSNC for the support,” said Charlene Apok. “There was a time where I felt disconnected between being in higher education and serving our community. I thought I would quit school. Then without saying these things, an Elder knew. They said to me, “Charlene, do you know I was sent to boarding school?” I nodded. “And when that happened, I forgot our language and I can’t sew fancy mukluks. But you know what? I was able to get an education, come back, and teach our people. And I relearned our language.” That story was their way of telling me my path was valid and that I could serve our people in this way – through education and research. From that point on I have not doubted my path using academia while still being a culture bearer, bridging the two. I encourage our people to think about the many ways we can serve our communities through the skill-sets we are given.”

Apok earned a bachelor’s degree with honors in American Ethnic Studies with a minor in Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies from the University of Washington, a master’s degree in Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development with an emphasis on Circumpolar Health from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Candidates for the Tim Towarak Memorial Scholarship are professional career-track shareholder or descendant students with a passion for advocating for, or serving, Alaska Native people. Students do not apply separately for the scholarship. Preference for the scholarship award will be given to students who are Alaska residents.

BSNC Expands Executive Team with Key New Hire

Doug Smith Joins BSNC as Vice President

BSNC is pleased to announce that Doug Smith has joined BSNC as Vice President. Smith will help identify and develop strategic opportunities for business development.

“Doug brings extensive leadership experience and a proven track record in business development and acquisition strategy,” said BSNC President & CEO Gail R. Schubert. “He will be a valuable addition to an already great team.”

Smith has specialized in the Alaska oil and gas and construction industries for more than 25 years. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation and on the Board of the Alaska Support Industry Alliance. Smith served in the USAF for ten years and attended the University of Alaska and the Community College of the Air Force.

BSNC supports Section 811 correction in 2020 National Defense Authorization Act

BSNC commends the work of U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and his colleagues in voting to pass the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill authorizes $738 billion in critical defense spending and includes numerous provisions and amendments introduced by Sullivan, many of which directly impact Alaska and Alaska Native Corporations.

“This bill focuses our military on the 2018 National Defense Strategy’s push to address great power competition with Russia and China, particularly in the Arctic, undoes a long-standing, discriminatory provision that targeted Native businesses competing for large DOD contracts, and provides support for Alaska’s military priorities.” said Senator Sullivan.

This year’s NDAA includes a number of Arctic-related provisions including:

• Strategic Arctic Port Designation: Requires the Secretary of Defense to study potential sites for Naval Arctic infrastructure and gives the authorization to designate a site or sites for a Strategic Arctic Port. As the importance of the region grows, ensuring U.S. Naval access and presence in the Arctic is critical. This designation aims to create the strategic imperative for the United States to invest in a deep-water port or ports along Alaska’s coast that can accommodate our national security needs.
• Russian and Chinese Arctic Military Activities: Requires a report on Arctic military activities by the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China.
• Arctic Mass Casualty Planning: Requires the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop a plan for carrying out mass-casualty disaster response in the Arctic. The provision will help prevent challenges, such as those encountered by the Norwegian government earlier this year as it attempted to rescue 1,373 passengers from the cruise ship Viking Sky.

The bill also requires the Department of Defense to remove overly burdensome restrictions that apply to Native 8(a) contractors. The restrictions, first enacted as Section 811 in late 2009 within the Fiscal Year 2010 NDAA, applied only to Native 8(a) contractors. Section 823, championed by Senator Dan Sullivan, eases discriminatory restrictions on businesses owned by tribes, Native Hawaiians and Alaska Native people, including Alaska Native Corporations. The identical provision was added to the NDAA in the House by Congressman Don Young and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI).

“I am thankful that the Alaska Delegation understands the profound positive impact that Alaska Native Corporations have on the state of Alaska’s economy in addition to delivering benefits to our shareholders and descendants,” said BSNC President & CEO Gail R. Schubert. “Section 811, which was enacted with no notice or discussion, resulted in a strong bias against Native contractors, thus adversely affecting revenue generation. Revenues generated from our government contracting efforts provide critical resources for delivering important shareholder benefits such as distributions, Elder dividends, scholarships, bereavement assistance and workforce development opportunities for shareholders and descendants. BSNC thanks Congressman Young and Senator Sullivan for looking out for Alaska and championing a remedy to this discriminatory provision.”

The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) was greatly enhanced by changes to the SBA 8(a) program, which were made possible by the late U.S. Senator Ted Stevens. Disadvantaged small businesses, such as ANCs, would not be able to compete with large government contractors without the business development tools provided by the 8(a) Program.

The success of ANCSA will be significantly enhanced by the correction of Section 811. BSNC looks forward to continuing to serve its federal and commercial customers by providing optimal, reliable services to achieve mission success, which will ultimately benefit our region, our country and shareholders.

Read more about the 2020 NDAA at: https://www.sullivan.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/bipartisan-defense-bill-heads-to-the-presidents-desk-with-sullivans-support

Strong Vision and Steady Growth

BSNC President & CEO Featured on Cover of Alaska Business Monthly

BSNC President & CEO Gail R. Schubert is featured on the cover of Alaska Business Monthly’s September issue. About the cover: “Gail Schubert, President and CEO of Bering Straits Native Corporation, expertly combines her cultural values, education, and work experience as she dedicates herself to her corporation, the Bering Straits region, and her people. She is passionate about creating opportunities for shareholders, descendants, and all Alaska Natives, whether that’s in the region, Alaska’s urban areas, or around the world. Schubert draws from her upbringing in Unalakleet as well as her eight years of experience working in New York on Wall Street to balance traditional knowledge with modern approaches to business as she forges a path that embraces the past while preparing for the future.” (Alaska Business Monthly)

Read more by visiting: https://www.akbizmag.com/industry/alaska-native/strong-vision-and-steady-growth

CONA- BSNC’s Celebration of Native Art

Alaska Native art connects us to our heritage, shows respect for our land and resources, and helps provide for the livelihood of Alaska Native artists.

Explore the diverse world of Alaska Native art at this year’s premier Celebration of Native Art – CONA.

From handmade jewelry to unique crafts to fine art, you’ll be sure to find the perfect piece to decorate your home or gift to those you love, all while supporting Alaska Native artists.

2019 Photo Contest Winners

BSNC Thanks everyone who submitted photos for our seventh annual Photo contest! The grand prize winner is Taylor Booth, who submitted a photo of Asaaluk Irelan holding her daughter Dally out on the tundra. Read more for the winners of the other categories.

 

Alaska Native Dance

1st David Octuck “Ribbon Dance”

2nd Lean Boardway “First Dance”

3rd Adeline Pete “Laine Hunt’s First Dance”

 

Historical

1st Sophie Arthur “Doris Kigrook Fisher”

2nd David Evans “Eskimo Flu Pandemic Cemetery”

3rd Rachel Goodall “Eddie Tocktoo at Fort Davis”

 

Scenery and Landscape

1st Hattie Keller “Winter Kuspuk”

2nd Taylor Booth “Bluff”

3rd Melanie Sagonick “Camp”

 

Subsistence Activities

1st Heather Jones “Black Meat, Onion, Carrot”

2nd Lisa Lynch “Salmonberries”

3rd Patti Huhta “Unalakleet River”

 

Village Life

1st Brandi Oquiluk “Corey’s Wooden Boat”

2nd Kevin Piscoya “Happiness in the Bering Sea”

3rd Tania Snowball “Girls Putting Fish Away”

 

Grand Prize Photo submitted by Taylor Booth

 

First Place Alaska Native Dance submitted by David Octuck

 

First Place Historical submitted by Sophie Arthur

 

First Place Scenery and Landscape submitted by Hattie Keller

 

First Place Subsistence Activities submitted by Heather Jones

 

First Place Village Life submitted by Brandi Oquiluk

Historical Spotlight: The Alaska Native Heritage Center Celebrates 20th Anniversary and Honors BSNC Shareholder Paul Tiulana

This past spring, the Alaska Native Heritage Center celebrated its 20th Anniversary and honored BSNC shareholder Paul Tiulana, who was the original visionary for the Center. Opening its doors in 1999, the Alaska Native Heritage Center is a renowned cultural center and museum in Anchorage, Alaska where all people can come to expand their understanding of Alaska’s indigenous people.

Tiulana was born on King Island in 1921 and was taught at an early age how to hunt, read the weather and ice floes and stay physically fit among many other survival skills. Tiulana started going to school on King Island when he was nine years of age. That same year, his father died, and his uncle, John Olarrana, became his mentor. With Olarrana as his mentor, Tiulana grew up to become a leader in the preservation of Inupiat traditions. He made the perpetuation of the culture and heritage of the King Islanders a major concern and devoted much of his life to this work.

Tiulana was drafted to serve in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was honorably discharged as a disabled veteran after losing his leg in an accident. The loss of his leg left him feeling completely dissapointed and frustrated/ “All my preparation to be a good hunter was los. I had lost everything. I could not go out hunting in the moving ice any more. The Bering Sea ice moves all the time – north, south, east and west- and it is very dangerous. It is a very dangerous place to be even with two legs.”

The people of King Island were forced to leave their island in the 1950s and in 1956 Tiulana, his wife Clara and their children moved from Nome to Anchorage. Life in Anchorage took a huge adjustment. He missed traditional dancing so much, he formed the King Island Singers and Dancers of Anchorage dance group in the 1970s. Tiulana taught the group the songs and dances that were passed down from generation to generation for as long as King Island people have existed. The group has traveled to places such as Paraguay, South Korea, New York, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Sante Fe, Seattle and numerous places throughout Alaska.

Tiulana was an accomplished ivory carver and mask maker and taught carving classes and workshops for the Alaska Native organizations that serve Anchorage. He spearheaded a project to build a traditional skin boat, or umiak, in 1982 and he played a key role in the revival of the ceremonial Wolf Dance, which was finally performed in 1982 for the first time in more than 50 years.

In the late 1960s he told Vivian Senungetuk about life on King Island in the 1930s and 1940s. Senungetuk transcribed his account and published it as “A Place for Winter. Paul Tiulana’s Story.” In 1983, Tiulana was named Citizen of the Year by the ALaska Federation of Natives for his work in promoting cultural heritage. Rarely had a civic award of this nature been presented to a practicing artist. In 1984, he was recognized by the National Endowment for Arts as a National Heritage Fellow.

Tiulana’s son and BSNC shareholder Eugene Tiulana and BSNC shareholder and receptionist Esther Koezuna have been teaching BSNC’s interns traditional dance lessons throughout the summer.

A Message From The President & CEO

This Summer’s unusually warm weather has delivered some of the state’s hottest days on record. As a result, ocean temperatures have also risen and have had a noticeable impact on migratory birds and marine mammals in our Region. Many of us are feeling the effects of climate change. Food security for Our People remains an important aspect of BSNC’s mission, which we carry out through the protection of our lands and our commitment to the preservation of our culture and heritage. I encourage our subsistence hunters and fishers to stay safe and be aware, as the changing climate can affect animal migration patterns and sea ice conditions on the rivers or ocean. We have lived through and experienced difficult conditions for many generations, and our collective strength and tradition of sharing have and will continue to ensure our survival for many more generations.

I am pleased to report that overall shareholder benefits, including dividends, the Elder distribution, bereavement payments, the Summer Internship Program and contributions to the Bering Straits Foundation, increased by 25 percent in fiscal year 2019 over the prior fiscal year. Recently, the BSNC Board of Directors declared a record-high dividend of $7.00 per share to be issued in December, an increase of 40 percent more than the 2018 shareholder dividend. The Board also voted to declare a 2019 special Elder dividend distribution of $1,500, an increase of $500 more than the 2018 special Elder distribution. BSNC strives to continue to return overall shareholder benefits to our shareholders and descendants, and we appreciate your continued support.

Shareholder hire at BSNC continues to increase and remains a strong priority for BSNC’s Board of Directors and management. One of BSNC’s in- Region contracts is comprised of 100% shareholder hire. BSNC subsidiary Eagle Eye Electric will oversee the design-build of the upgrades and repairs to the city power distribution system for the City of Diomede. This project is managed by BSNC shareholder employee Cliff Johnson. Additionally, wholly-owned BSNC subsidiary Sound Quarry Incorporated (SQI) has begun operating the Cape Nome Quarry located 12 miles east of Nome, with an 88% shareholder, descendant and shareholder spouse hire rate.

BSNC’s 2019 Summer Internship Program was a success and provided 10 interns the opportunity to gain valuable work experience and skills in Nome and Anchorage. The program is important to me and the Board, and I am pleased that our executive team and management were very involved in mentoring the interns. In addition to gaining knowledge about BSNC through the departments in which the interns were placed, they attended weekly trainings and informational luncheons that provided in-depth information about BSNC’s history and corporate structure, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, financial security, government contracting, board training and Alaska Native policy matters. I believe that our program is one of the best in the state, and I encourage shareholder and descendant students to apply in January when recruitment for a new class of interns begins.

In closing, I’d like to highlight the importance of the 2020 Census. Participating in the Census benefits our communities because it helps determine where $3.2 billion in federal funding will be spent. Alaska has been historically undercounted by at least 8%, which means less funding for critical infrastructure, Head Start, Medicaid, hospitals, public housing, Low Income Energy Assistance and many other federal programs. The Census also determines the boundary lines of voting districts. In terms of representation in the State Legislature, your participation in the Census count is much needed. You can also help your community by applying for a temporary 2020 Census job. The pay is competitive, you will be paid weekly and the hours are flexible. The U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting now. Apply online at 2020census.gov/jobs.

I hope everyone enjoys the remainder of the Summer season and has a safe and productive Fall.

Quyaana.

Gail R. Schubert

BSNC President & CEO

BSNC Young Providers Committee Announces 2019 Awardees

BSNC Announces 2019 Young Providers Awardees

 

(Anchorage, AK) – BSNC has announced the awardees of its 2019 Young Providers Award as Adelaine “Addy” Ahmasuk of Nome honoring Lela Kiana Oman, and Trevor Savetilik of Shaktoolik honoring Jacob Ahwinona. The Young Providers Award honors young people from the BSNC region who contribute on a daily basis to the health and well-being of their families, communities and culture. Ahmasuk and Savetilik will be recognized at the 2019 Annual Meeting of Shareholders on Oct. 5 in Nome, Alaska.

 

Adelaine “Addy” Ahmasuk is an advocate for indigenous people and stays active year-round subsisting. Addy currently works as a commercial fisherwoman. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and plans to pursue further education. Addy formed an Inupiaq speaking club for young people and Elders to practice and learn Inupiaq. She has helped host a Norton Sound Indigenous Women and Girls’ gathering in conjunction with the Alaska Community Action on Toxics. Addy is passionate about her heritage, the history of Native peoples, Native languages, subsistence, Native rights, lands, clean water and indigenous plants and healing. Addy’s parents are Austin Ahmasuk and Marisha Skinna.

 

Addy will be recognized in honor of the late Lela Kiana Oman (Ahyakee). Lela was born in 1915 in Noorvik, Alaska. She moved to Nome as a young girl and resided there for the remainder of her life. She devoted her life to preserving traditional Inupiaq stories and passing on Inupiaq traditions. She has published a number of books of Native stories, including: Eskimo Legends (1966, Nome Press) and the Epic of Qayaq: The Longest Story Ever Told By My People (1995, Carleton University Press). Lela stayed busy sewing fur, fostering children and was active in the Nome Covenant Church. She represented Nome in the Mrs. Alaska pageant where she was selected by fellow participants as Mrs. Congeniality. Last year, Lela passed away peacefully surrounded by loving family members. At the time of her passing, Lela was BSNC’s oldest shareholder at 102 and a half years of age.

 

Trevor Savetilik is a young, self-motivated community member from the village of Shaktoolik. Trevor began hunting at the age of five with his dad, uncles and cousins and started commercial fishing for salmon and crab at the age of 10. From the start, Trevor always had a giving nature. When he is blessed with a catch, he thinks of the Elders and those who are unable to get out in the country. Trevor also knows of the importance of remaining active and being a good role model through leadership and good sportsmanship as captain of his basketball team. Trevor’s parents are Randy and April Savetilik.

 

Trevor will be recognized in honor of the late Jacob Ahwinona of White Mountain. Throughout his lifetime, Jacob was an articulate culture bearer, sharing knowledge passed from generation to generation, and a model of living one’s life in accordance with traditional Inupiaq values. Jacob moved to Nome to work on gold dredges for the U.S. Mining Company and was a maintenance mechanic and equipment operator for Nome Public Schools. After his retirement, Mr. Ahwinona remained active in the community. He served on the boards of Sitnasuak Native Corporation and Kawerak and was recognized by Sitnasuak as Elder of the Year in 2011. In 2003, the former Nome Receiving Home was named “Jacob’s House” in recognition of his volunteer efforts to improve the lives of children and families in the Bering Strait region. Jacob lived in Nome for more than 60 years and was married to the late Hannah (Anagick) Ahwinona from Unalakleet.

 

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BSNC is an Alaska Native Corporation that was established by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971. It is owned by more than 8,000 Alaska Native shareholders and actively pursues responsible development of resources and other business opportunities. Through its subsidiaries, BSNC serves the federal government and commercial customers throughout the Bering Strait region, Alaska, the United States and the world.

 

Visit www.beringstraits.com.

BSNC Announces 2019 Shareholder Dividend Distribution

The Bering Straits Native Corporation (BSNC) Board of Directors has declared a record-high dividend of $7.00 per share to be issued in December, an increase of $2.00 more than the 2018 shareholder dividend. The average BSNC shareholder who owns 100 shares of stock will receive $700. This dividend distribution will be paid through the BSNC Beringia Settlement Trust on a tax-free basis. The total 2019 distribution will be approximately $4.4 million to BSNC’s shareholders of record. Since 1972, BSNC has distributed $27.9 million in regular dividends.

There are many benefits that come with being a BSNC shareholder or descendant, including eligibility to receive scholarships from the Bering Straits Foundation and hire preference for qualified shareholders, descendants and shareholder spouses. In addition to these benefits, BSNC provides Shareholder Bereavement Assistance in the amount $2,500 to help defray the cost of funeral expenses for an original BSNC shareholder, a lineal descendent of an original BSNC shareholder, or the spouse of a living original BSNC shareholder.

“This is a record high dividend and a 40 percent increase from BSNC’s 2018 distribution,” said BSNC Board Chairman Henry Ivanoff. “BSNC is more than pleased to fulfill its pledge to return tangible benefits to its shareholders.”

BSNC Announces 2019 Elder Dividend Distribution

The Bering Straits Native Corporation (BSNC) Board of Directors has voted to declare a 2019 special Elder dividend distribution of $1,500, an increase of $500 more than the 2018 special Elder distribution. This special distribution will be paid through the BSNC Beringia Settlement Trust on a tax-free basis to original BSNC shareholders who are 65 years of age or older on Nov. 4, 2019, the date of record. Checks will be mailed on or by Dec. 31, 2019. Since 1972, BSNC has distributed a total of $3.7 million in Elder dividends.

“The BSNC Board and Management are very thankful for the steadfast support from our Elder shareholders,” said BSNC Board Chairman Henry Ivanoff. “We are pleased to honor our Elders with this dividend.”

Message to Shareholders Regarding GPS Contract

Dear BSNC Shareholders,

Border control centers continue to garner national media attention. As you may recall, in 2015, BSNC subsidiary Global Precision Systems LLC (GPS) was awarded a 7-year contract to provide staff to help operate the El Paso, Texas Service Processing Center (the “Center”). We provide adult transportation services, detention officers and food service to individuals who are awaiting resolution of their immigration status. It’s important to note that GPS’s contract does not include family separation provisions and the Center does not house minors. Our duties are to ensure the security, safety, health and welfare of all individuals placed in our care.

As indigenous people with strong traditional values, we at BSNC work to ensure that all individuals placed in our care are treated with dignity and respect. We intend to fulfill our obligations under the terms of our contract to the best of our abilities.

During a site visit several months ago with members of BSNC’s Board of Directors, I personally visited the Center and observed our subsidiary employees interact at several levels with individuals housed at the Center. I found our subsidiary employees to be respectful, courteous and responsive, while still ensuring that our subsidiary met the standards of our contract.

We at BSNC remain committed to our strategic vision for the Company, which includes providing shareholder benefits (e.g., regular and Elder dividends, bereavement payments, jobs, internships, shareholder development, scholarships and support for nonprofit entities that provide services to our shareholders and descendants), and pursuing economic development opportunities while protecting our lands and preserving our culture and heritage.

I ask you, as Shareholders, to read our upcoming Annual Report to understand the role that government contracting has served in our growth and ability to provide the benefits described above, and what we have done to ensure that our government contract work has been utilized to provide benefits to Our People. Thank you for your continued support.

Respectfully,

Gail R. Schubert
BSNC President & CEO

Village Life Stories

The Calm Ocean Water by Jermaine

There was a year when my father and I would wake up every day exactly at eight o’clock in the morning. We woke up every morning because we wanted to go see how the weather for the day would be, except we wouldn’t check the weather anywhere else but at the west beach. We went to the beach every morning to go see how the ice and ocean looked. It looked the same every day but not literally. One frosty, good, cold morning, my father Alexie, Chris and his father Daniel had went down to the beach ready for a beautiful day once again in the Bering Sea. Agra’s cousin Herby had come down to the beach too to join us on a boating trip to “other side” to go hunting for walrus.

We had set all the stuff we had planned to bring with us along the trip into the boat ready for our use. We had checked the Evinrude to see if it had needed any equipment such as oil. Once we had got done checking the Evinrude, we had decided to push the boat into water so we could then start the Evinrude, so it can be warmed up for the journey. After that, we readied ourselves for the journey ahead. Once we were done, we had started going east toward the mountain, slowly. The sun, as high as it could be, glistened off the ocean like a diamond in the sunlight. The ocean’s water were so calm you could even compare the term ‘pancake’ to about anything, and it wouldn’t even compare it to the sea.

As we were getting around the curve of the mountain, we saw a herd of walrus in the water. We didn’t bother going after them, so we just continued heading east, where the fat of the land sustained herds of sleeping walrus, on ice. Once we had passed those walrus, me and Agra started fooling around. We started to pay more attention to what was going on in the boat than what was going on outside the boat. Once our fathers had realized we were being silly, they scolded us verbally and told us to watch out for something that might catch our eyes. With the frost blinding my vision slightly, the wind chill biting my cheek swiftfully, and the snow intimidating me, I asked myself, “what if there’s something over in that direction?” With a blink of an eye, I had reacted quickly and looked that way and sure enough there was a herd of sleeping walrus on the ice jammed together as if they had been given no choice but to huddle together. Agra’s father, Daniel, had blurted out, “Get ready! We’ll slowly get to them so we can pick out the bulls.” I had reached over for my gun case that kept my pride and joy protected from the weather and other things that might ruin my gun.

Once I had got my gun case into my lap, I had opened it and grinned to myself because I had set my eyes on the prize that motivated me to go hunting that day. I pulled out my 243 Winchester, stainless steel, cocked it, and put it on safety until we gotten to a certain point to shoot the walrus. My dad said, “I’ll get the one on the right” while Takeva said, “I’ll get the one on the left.” I readied my weapon and aimed towards my target. Then, “boo-dugh.”

#BSNCVillageLifeStories

This piece was submitted to the Bering Straits School District’s 2019 “Honoring My Culture” Writing Contest.

BSNC Announces Hire of New Vice President and General Counsel

BSNC is pleased to announce that Mary L. Pate has joined BSNC as Vice President and General Counsel. Pate brings many years of experience in legal matters, corporate governance, litigation, commercial transactions, Native and employment law, risk management and compliance.

Pate joins BSNC from NANA where she served as Vice President and Deputy General Counsel.  At NANA, Mary oversaw all commercial subsidiary legal matters and risk management. Prior to her work at NANA, Pate worked as a partner for Honigman Miller Schwartz & Cohn LLP.

Pate earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky, Lexington, a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Puget Sound School of Law.

“I am confident that Mary will be a strong asset to BSNC,” said BSNC President & CEO Gail R. Schubert. “I look forward to working with her as we continue to grow and expand our operations.”

BSNC Increases Scholarship Support

Bering Straits Native Corporation (BSNC) will double scholarship funding for undergraduate, graduate and vocational Bering Straits Foundation (BSF) student recipients. Newly approved scholarship increases will be offered for the fall 2019 term.

“BSNC is very proud to invest in its shareholders and descendants,” said BSNC President & CEO Gail R. Schubert. “I encourage our students to fully utilize scholarships from the Foundation to obtain an education or training that will benefit our Region, Alaska and Our People.”

“BSF is extremely thankful for the increase in contributions from BSNC and their continued support,” said BSF President Jed Ballard. “These changes will have a meaningful positive impact for our students and their families.”

The deadline to apply is July 15, 2019. Students can apply for the BSF scholarship by visiting https://my-cache.org/.

BSF’s mission is to support the educational and vocational goals of Our People, strengthening sustainable communities and enriching Native cultural heritage and traditional values. Since 1991, BSNC has provided more than $3.1 million to BSF to support BSNC shareholders and descendants pursuing post-secondary education.