Sealaska published a special edition Shareholder Newsletter. The following was included.
Following the June 25 approval of a shareholder resolution to eliminate the one-quarter blood quantum requirement from the eligibility criteria for Sealaska’s Class D (Descendant) shares, Sealaska is now pursuing justice on behalf of another group of disenfranchised descendants — those who were born before Dec. 18, 1971, and whose blood quantum is lower than one-quarter.
Dec. 18, 1971 is the date the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act was signed into law. ANCSA defined eligibility to enroll in the newly created Alaska Native corporations as “a citizen of the United States who is a person of one-fourth degree or more Alaska Indian (including Tsimshian Indians not enrolled in the Metlakatla Indian Community), Eskimo, or Aleut blood, or combination thereof.” This definition established the one-quarter threshold as federal law.
At the time of ANCSA’s passage, there was no provision to include future generations — descendants — in the newly formed corporations. A later series of amendments, known as the 1991 Amendments, created the opportunity for Native corporation shareholders to approve inclusion of descendants who were born after the Dec. 18, 1971 cutoff through the creation of Class D stock. The criteria for eligibility for Class D shares was left to each corporation.
In 2007, Sealaska shareholders approved a resolution creating Class D stock and defining eligibility. This summer, shareholders amended the Class D stock rules to remove the one-quarter blood quantum requirement.
Changing the original shareholder eligibility requirements — those that apply to Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian relatives born before Dec. 18, 1971 — can only be done by amending ANCSA.
Amending ANCSA would require the support of other Alaska Native corporations; a sponsor for the legislation from Alaska’s congressional delegation; and the ultimate approval of the change by Congress. Each of these steps could take quite a while. Half of Alaska’s 12 regional corporations haven’t even created descendant stock yet,
and only two others have eliminated blood quantum from their eligibility requirements for descendants.
Sealaska will update shareholders as our work progresses. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.