Tracy and Penny are among Sealaska’s newest shareholders, who have enrolled since the one-quarter blood quantum requirement was removed from enrollment criteria for Class D (Descendant) stock.
Tracy Allen welcomes the change.
“I think that eventually our blood quantum would have run out as a lot of us are mixed ethnicities,” she said. “The change has been great for me and Penny, and all our children. But not for my older siblings, Gary Allen and Lynn Allen. They are still left out due to the date cut off, which I see as unfair.” Sealaska is investigating solutions to this problem, but at this time, cannot issue stock to descendants who were born before Dec. 18, 1971 whose Alaska Native blood quantum is less than one-quarter. The original eligibility rules laid out in the Alaska Native
Claims Settlement Act prevent it.
Tracy Allen has been an active voting shareholder for years thanks to shares she inherited from her grandfather and mother. “To me it has always been about being able to vote so this gives us more voting rights, and I feel like we belong to something bigger.”
Those original shares Tracy Allen and her sister inherited will be handed down for generations, just like the knowledge of living off the land has been handed down over the generations in families like the Allens.
Hunting, fishing and other traditional ways of being have been woven into the fiber of Allen family history, as is the case for many families in Southeast. Tracy Allen looks to entities like Sealaska to advocate for subsistence rights. “All of us and our own children go hunting and fishing, which is something we learned to enjoy together as a family. My sister, Lynn, is really into canning and preserving food. This is something she is teaching me, and I have been trying to teach my kids.”
During this fall’s moose hunting trip on the Stikine River, all their friends will gather on the family float house, “the Bluebird,” handed down from their mother, Ginny Allen. “This is a usually a 3-4-day trip,” Tracy Allen explained. “We load up lots of food and drinks. Most of our evenings are spent laughing and sharing stories. We have lots of visitors on the Bluebird and we always have a warm cup of coffee to share, and an oil stove to warm up by. We live by the motto, ‘What happens on the Bluebird stays on the Bluebird.’ So, any good stories will have to stay there.”