Sealaska shareholders and descendants gathered online for a person-to-person discussion of the company’s resolution on the 2022 proxy that would eliminate the requirement to document blood quantum in order to be eligible to apply for Sealaska descendant shares.
The event, held the evening of Monday, May 9, was designed to allow shareholders and descendants to discuss amongst themselves the implications and considerations associated with the vote. More than 100 shareholders participated.
Stripping the blood quantum requirement will make eligible up to 17,000 descendants of original Sealaska shareholders whose blood quantum is either lower than one-quarter or was incorrectly documented by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
“Blood quantum cards are dehumanizing when you think about purebred animals,” said Sealaska Chair Joe Nelson, who hosted the event. “As the company turns 50, we invite shareholders to check ‘yes’ and extend a hand to all of our descendants because it is the right thing to do.”
The event was held on Zoom and took advantage of the platform’s breakout-room function to randomly create small groups in which shareholders could talk about the sensitive and personal issue.
Sealaska conducted extensive qualitative and quantitative research on the subject as part of the decision to place the question before shareholders. Research showed that a majority of shareholders support the change.
The 2022 vote is an extension of the expansion of eligibility that began when Sealaska shareholders first opened their rolls to descendant shareholders born after the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) was signed into law on December 18, 1971. That vote created Class D (Descendant) stock but retained the one-quarter blood quantum requirement. In the 15 years since, intermarriage and other demographic trends have decreased the number of descendants of original shareholders who meet the one-quarter threshold.
The event included a presentation by Sealaska President and CEO Anthony Mallott about the financial and logistical implications of the vote.
“New shareholders will still have to go through a fairly extensive process of vetting and documentation to prove they are related to an original shareholder,” Mallott said. “That’s a part of the process that will not change. What we are excited about is the growth of our shareholder base adding strength to Sealaska and our mission, bringing on more individuals who can be the leaders of tomorrow.”
Shareholders who spoke in favor of the change on Monday night cited consistency with ancestral values — Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people have always been intergenerationally oriented — inclusivity, cultural preservation and preservation of Sealaska as a shareholder-owned company.
To view Mallott’s full presentation, click here.
For more information, please visit the #NativeEnough tab on MySealaska.com and follow Sealaska’s social media channels and the #NativeEnough hashtag.