A letter from Sealaska board chair Joe Nelson

Joe Nelson, Sealaska Board Chair

Nearly fifty years ago, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) authorized the creation of Sealaska – and it was all about compensation for taking land. Native land. Since then, ANCSA corporations have become large engines powered by exporting natural resources and contracting with the federal government. I never want to minimize the validity of these industries. However, I predict that responsible, long-term and sustainable businesses that account for people and the planet will define ANCSA’s future.

At Sealaska, that future is now.

We are rebuilding this Alaska Native company on the solid footing of our ancestors’ values. We are no longer in business just hoping to fund the preservation of our culture. We are not just a for-profit business that happens to be owned by Natives. We are making money because the world is desperate for businesses that put people and the planet before profit. As Alaska Native people, we inherently bring a long-term, holistic approach to our businesses. We are investing with our Native values front and center.

I envision a future where Sealaska gets paid to watch trees grow on our small landholdings, keeping our forest systems intact, rather than solely relying on an export timber market. That future is now. Thanks to the California carbon market, we can diversify our land management program to align with our values.

I envision a future where all our young people find solutions to the planet’s problems and strengthen their own communities. I envision every young person growing up with a Native name they are proud of and using their cultural knowledge to innovate. That future is now thanks to our next generation of language warriors, culture bearers and those eager to learn.

Sealaska strives to provide positive benefits and programs for our shareholders. To achieve that, we know we need to connect with all of you – young and old – to share ideas, to embody our cultural values and to strengthen ourselves, our communities and our homelands.