In November 2019, Joseph (Kusataan) Casulucan received his first check as a new enrolled shareholder descendant. Joseph was motivated to enroll because he wanted to learn more about Sealaska’s origins, accomplishments, and lessons learned along the way.
“I am so happy to finally be part of our amazing Regional Corporation. The work done by our leadership makes me very proud to be from Southeast – and especially proud to be Lingít!” said Joseph.
His mother Carla Casulucan says when completing the enrollment process, they deliberately opted for a paper check rather than direct deposit. “This way Joseph could hold the check in his hand as a symbolic reminder of our history and our grandparents’ struggles to maintain our ties to Lingít Aaní (our land),” she said.
Joseph is Tlingit, Eagle, Kaagwaantaan from the Box House. He carries the Lingít name “Kusataan” from his late great-grandfather Harry Marvin. He is the grandson of Sealaska shareholders Edwina and Paul White Jr. of Hoonah and Juneau.
Q: Welcome to Sealaska, Joseph! What motivated you to complete the enrollment application with Sealaska?
A: Being from a newer generation, it intrigued me how Sealaska handles the distribution and classification of shares. What motivated me to apply was having the opportunity to finally learn about the enrollment process altogether and learn more about our corporation’s origins, history, accomplishments (and lessons learned) and trying to figure out where I could fit into any of this aside from just being an enrolled shareholder. There is so much more to being an enrolled shareholder than “just” the distributions twice a year, but it’s still a really nice perk!
Q: We are always looking for ways to connect with Sealaska’s 22,000 shareholders. What can we do to help you have a richer connection to Sealaska?
A: I feel we can connect by sharing knowledge with the younger generations. With many of our original enrolled shareholders gone now it is important for our future to keep our corporation going strong. One idea to help accomplish that is to create and share age-appropriate ANCSA and Sealaska specific history, geography and basic corporate financial lessons in various formats and mediums (social media, vlogs, podcasts etc.) that educate and inform people from all educational and economic backgrounds, starting with the 5th grade on up to adults. Recruit multiple youth or young adults from various communities to present this all in a fun, engaging and meaningful (modern/cool “up-to-date”) way that today’s young adults and youth can identify with.
Q: What are you most proud of that Sealaska does?
A: I am most proud of Sealaska for integrating Alaska Native culture into modern society by drawing on our traditional Native values in our modern businesses and activities.
Q: Are there areas Sealaska can improve on?
A: As I am still new to and learning what Sealaska has to offer I’d love to help explore what can be improved and then share our findings with current and more importantly, future generations of shareholders/descendants. Maybe have a youth workshop where the Sealaska Board Youth Advisor leads a panel of youth once per quarter or twice per year to explore the needs and wishes of upcoming generations and discuss how we can meet those needs.
Q: You opted for a paper check as a symbolic reminder of our history and our grandparents’ struggles to maintain our ties to Lingít Aaní (our land.) Can you expand on that?
A: Yes, having a visual representation of what getting shares means was more symbolic than anything. It was a physical reminder of what my ancestors did for me and why I should take my responsibilities as a shareholder seriously.
Q: Receiving a paper check was a great symbolic gesture. We really appreciate you sharing the picture too! We hope you will consider direct deposit soon.
A: Of course! Being part of the modern world means going about our daily lives and business in ways that are convenient, efficient and cost effective – all of which direct deposit accomplishes!
Q: Is there anything you’d like to share with Sealaska?
A: I am just so happy to finally be part of our amazing Regional Corporation. The work done by our leadership makes me very proud to be from Southeast – and especially proud to be Lingít!
Sealaska would like to thank Carla and Joseph for sharing their story with Sealaska. If you would like to share a shareholder story please email us and include a photo at firstname.lastname@example.org.