I hope everyone had a successful summer fishing, hunting, and harvesting berries and greens in preparation for winter. The summer flew by and as we head into the winter months, we will be able to enjoy the fruits of our labors. Our Region is blessed to have many subsistence resources close to our villages, and I am proud that our youth have continued the centuries-old practice of sharing our resources with Elders and other households, both in the village and in urban Alaska. That has been the stronghold of our survival for many, many generations.
This year, the BSNC Board of Directors declared a record-high dividend of $3.75 per share to be issued in December. The Board also voted to declare a one-time special Elder dividend distribution of $750, an increase of $250 more than the 2016 special Elder distribution. We have been fortunate that our business development and support staff have had success in securing both government and commercial work, which has allowed us to focus on shareholder hire and development, hire and retain top quality employees, and increase the benefits we provide to our shareholders and Region. Because of our efforts, Alaska Business Monthly announced BSNC as #10 of the Top 49 Alaska-owned business as ranked by 2016 gross revenues.
During the 2017 Annual Meeting in Nome on Oct. 7, BSNC honored the lifelong efforts of Arthur “Guy” Martin to preserve and promote the rich cultural and historical resources of our Region. It was with great sadness that we learned of Guy’s passing on the evening of the Annual Meeting. On behalf of BSNC and our Board of Directors, I extend sincere condolences to Guy’s loved ones. During various points in his career, Guy worked for BSNC, Kawerak, Inc., Nome Eskimo Community and Sitnasuak Native Corporation. He was active in the community and served on many boards. Guy was a great believer in the power of persistence, even in the face of setbacks, and he worked tirelessly to see that our Region’s traditional knowledge is continued and respected.
The 2017 Annual Meeting in Nome was well attended. Shareholders voted on the election of five board directors. Incumbents Henry Ivanoff Sr., Robert K. Evans, Roy C. Ashenfelter and Homer E. Hoogendorn were reelected and Deborah Atuk was newly elected to the Board. I thank outgoing Director Fred N. Sagoonick for his longstanding service as a board member.
BSNC recognizes the importance of uplifting our youth and young adults who represent the next generation of leaders. This year, BSNC honored Fisher Dill of Unalakleet and Corey Ningeulook of Shishmaref with the Young Providers Award at the Annual Meeting. The BSNC Board of Directors chose to posthumously honor Norbert Kakaruk, a Qawiaramiut Elder from Mary’s Igloo through presentation of this year’s awards. I am proud that our youth demonstrate a dedication to the Region and their respective communities, family and culture. I was pleased to see that BSNC’s 2016 Young Provider, Christian Agragiiq Apassingok of Gambell, gave the youth keynote address during the 34th Annual Elders and Youth Conference in Anchorage. As you may know, Christian faced backlash from online bullies after harvesting his first bowhead whale last spring. I commend Christian for providing for his community and standing up for our people and way of life. His message to continue our traditional subsistence activities while facing opposition was powerful and inspiring.
BSNC’s 2017 Summer Internship Program was a success and provided eight interns the opportunity to gain valuable work experience and skills in Nome and Anchorage. Interns participated in trainings and workshops which included leadership skills, public speaking, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, policy issues that affect Alaska Native people, cultural awareness, business structure, Arctic matters, personal finance and networking opportunities. Several of our past interns have transitioned to full-time employment with BSNC and other ANCSA corporations.
During this year’s Alaska Federation of Natives Convention, you may have been approached by signature-gatherers asking for you to sign a petition that claims to “Stand for Salmon.” In July, the ANCSA Regional Association voted unanimously to oppose this controversial initiative. If the initiative is passed and later becomes law, it may prevent Alaska Native Corporations from developing the lands and resources that were conveyed under ANCSA, and negatively affect our ability to create a sustainable socioeconomic future for our people. It could also delay or deny infrastructure improvement projects and economic development projects on Village lands. We urge you to carefully consider whether you should support this initiative, and for the reasons stated above, recommend a no vote if it is included on the ballot.
Earlier this fall, BSNC’s Anchorage office moved to the third and fourth floors of the Calais II building located at 3301 C Street, Suite 400. To welcome shareholders and business associates to the new location, BSNC will host an Open House and Holiday Bazaar on Thursday, Nov. 30 from 5-7:30 p.m. I hope to see many of you there.
Heading into 2018, we look forward to continuing the growth and diversification of BSNC. I hope that everyone has a happy and safe holiday season. Quyaana for your continued support of and involvement in BSNC.
Gail R. Schubert