UPDATE: Doyon is also out of AFN, Must Read Alaska has just learned.
The Alaska Native Corporation ASRC board of directors has voted unanimously to leave the Alaska Federation of Natives.
No explanation was given by the corporation, which is the largest of the 13 regional Native corporations set up after President Richard Nixon signed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, or ANCSA, into law in December, 1971.
KTUU reported that AFN President Julie Kitka was putting a positive spin on the development, saying that AFN still hopes to work with ASRC.
But losing its wealthiest member has to be a setback for her increasingly radicalized organization; AFN was founded in 1966 but is a very different organization today under Kitka’s leadership. During the most recent convention, it became apparent that the radical elements had taken control. ASRC’s Chairman Crawford Patkotak (Ahkivgak) rose to speak against the climate change resolution during the convention in October, but his remarks were not heeded by AFN, which passed the resolution anyway.
ASRC has also recently joined forces with other business entities in Alaska under the banner of “One Alaska,” to fight the latest oil tax hike initiative called “Our Fair Share,” which is now in the signature-collecting stage. An increase in the oil tax would put a chill on the investment decisions still pending for major North Slope oil projects that are predicted to bring a renaissance of prosperity to Alaska.
During the recent AFN conference, the organization declared a climate change emergency that may have played poorly in the board rooms of the Native Corporations, some of which have businesses that intersect with Alaska’s oil patch. ASRC, based on the North Slope, has extensive financial ties with oil exploration and production, and is the largest Alaska-based corporation.
ASRC owns Petro Star Inc., the only Alaska-owned refining and fuel marketing operation in the state, with two refineries along the Trans-Alaska Pipeline that serve Alaska communities from the Interior all the way to Dutch Harbor. It’s one of its several successful lines of business that bring handsome dividends to shareholders.
Other Native Corporations could follow ASRC’s lead as they watch AFN use the youth from rural areas to push an anti-business agenda. AFN’s political focus now includes shutting down the oil industry due to climate change concerns.
ASRC is looking at how to grow jobs for shareholders and how to add value to Alaska’s economy, while defending whaling, which is an important quality of life issue for its shareholders, sustaining them for thousands of years.
ASRC endorsed Gov. Mike Dunleavy in 2018, while AFN endorsed Mark Begich after Gov. Bill Walker withdrew from the race. During the AFN conference in October, radicals disrupted Dunleavy’s remarks. He had been invited to speak but was shouted down by the radicals in the audience. It was an unprecedented act of disrespect to an invited guest, and occurred while First Lady Rose Dunleavy, who is Inupiaq, stood by her husband on the stage, in shock.
That may have been the turning point for Native Corporations, who are voting with their feet. It signals a marginalization of AFN if the companies that finance their conventions decide to withdraw.
In an internal letter, CEO and President Rex Rock said the decision was to reprioritize the company’s efforts toward its home region, to focus on the needs of Alaskans on the North Slope, stakeholders, and communities, and the people the company strives to serve. He said the company would continue to work with AFN on issues where there is alignment.
Calista and Doyon also own oil-related companies. Must Read Alaska learned this evening that Doyon has also decided to leave AFN.