Happy New Year!
As we greet 2023, we at Sealaska also invite you to join us in reflecting on the 2022 year. In 2022, we celebrated 50 years; made strides toward our goal of ocean health; and continued on the path of financial stability despite continued investment market challenges. There is much to be thankful for: our hardworking employees, our creative, collaborative partners and our inspiring community of shareholders, all of whom help shape our collective future and chart the course of history for our company and our people.
In 2022, Sealaska celebrated the 50th anniversary of Sealaska’s incorporation under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). With this landmark, we reflect upon the progress and accomplishments of the past 50 years while remaining committed to working alongside our shareholders and communities to continue our path of growth over the next 50.
We continued to build upon the success of our Ocean Health focused businesses through reinvestment and dedication to the values-based strategies that are producing growth. We are winning new business and contracts in our priority areas of healthy, high quality, seafood, and hydro sciences, where we are working to support more renewable energy development.
At the annual meeting, a majority of Sealaska shareholders voted in favor of eliminating the blood quantum requirement for enrollment. We are proud to open the doors to all descendants of original shareholders, regardless of their blood quantum percentage. Following the removal of the blood quantum requirement in June, Sealaska welcomed 2,115 new shareholders. We look forward to building strong relationships with these new shareholders in 2023 and beyond.
Last year, the Seacoast Trust reached its first major fundraising milestone of $20 million. This partnership was created in 2021 to provide consistent, long-term funding for the Sustainable Southeast Partnership.
Sealaska also worked to provide more stability to our own Marjorie V. Young Shareholder Permanent Fund. In April, the board of directors approved the transfer of $25 million in earnings from Sealaska’s carbon sequestration program to the permanent fund, bringing its balance to over $175 million.
As part of our $10 million investment in language revitalization, the Sealaska Board of Directors approved $558,000 in grants to help fund programs and organizations focused on supporting advanced language learners. 2022 also marked the first year of Sealaska’s Clarence Jackson Sr. Language Awards, honoring speakers who have made a significant impact on language revitalization efforts for Lingít, Xaad Kíl and Sm’álgyax languages.
Our continued support for Yakutat Surf Camp remained a highlight of the summer. President and CEO Anthony Mallott served as a surf instructor, helping encourage Yakutat youth to connect with our lands and waters through the joy of surfing.
Sealaska proudly worked to strengthen relationships with our valued partners, including the Sustainable Southeast Partnership (SSP), Spruce Root, Sealaska Heritage Institute, Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska along with other Alaska Native Corporations, tribal and village entities across Southeast and around the state. We take pride in our work with partner organizations – in 2022, this work was especially notable in supporting twin goals of balanced land management and economic stability with the Southeast Alaska Sustainability Strategy, through which the Department of Agriculture supported with $25 million in investment funding. SSP will carry out many of the projects funded through this sustainable development program.
Much of our collaborative work with SSP and other partner organizations in 2022 centered around our 2021 exit from timber. This work included funding a new executive director position for the Prince of Wales Vocational-Technical Center, protected species observer and heat pump installation trainings along with support for the Alaskan Youth Stewards program and community forest partnerships.
We continued our public policy efforts on critical issues facing Alaska Native people, including advocacy for Landless legislation, herring fishery access, tribal recognition and support for political candidates closely aligned with Sealaska’s values.
With that, Sealaska took a front row seat in an exciting (and historic!) Alaska state election year with our endorsement of then-candidate Mary Peltola. As the first Alaska Native Corporation to publicly support her candidacy, we were thrilled with her victory in both the special and general elections. Rep. Peltola has already continued Rep. Young’s legacy of advocating Alaska Native rights, along with policy issues important to Sealaska including ocean health, climate change, workers’ rights and more. We also celebrated the reelection of Sealaska-endorsed candidate Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who remains a steadfast supporter of Native rights in Congress and a close friend of Sealaska.
As we celebrate the end of another tremendous year, we express our gratitude to our incredible community of shareholders for your continued support. 2022 allowed us to connect more, providing increased programs, opportunities and experiences to shareholders in addition to biannual dividends.
Gunalchéesh, Háw’aa, T’oyaxsut ‘nüüsm and best wishes for a healthy, happy new year.