Sealaska shareholders last month voted in favor of a resolution extending eligibility for Class D (Descendant) stock in Sealaska to lineal descendants of original shareholders, without respect to their documented Alaska Native blood quantum. Lineal is a blood relative in the direct line of descent – children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc. of a person.
The blood quantum resolution was approved by a vote of 750,283 to 497,946, or 57% of shareholders in favor and 40% opposed.
Sealaska joins Calista and Arctic Slope Regional Corporation in abandoning the practice of quantifying degree of Native blood in order to be a shareholder.
Blood quantum laws were established in the British Colonies to define membership in Native American tribes. For example, 1/4 Tlingit, or 1/16 Haida. When the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act was passed in 1971, it established eligibility for shareholder membership in one of the 13 Alaska Native Corporations and village corporations as one quarter Alaska Native blood quantum. Over time, the number of original shareholders has died, and some of their descendants don’t have the required blood quantum.
Sealaska President and CEO Anthony Mallott approved of the change.
“I want to thank our shareholders for having the difficult conversations and doing the soul searching that so many did as we discussed this resolution in virtual meetings and on social media this spring,” said Mallott. “This result is consistent with our traditional values as well as our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion as a company.”
“Elimination of the blood requirement is a monumental step in our healing journey. We, no doubt, have our share of challenges in our communities. This arbitrary rule will no longer be one of them organizationally,” said Sealaska board chair Joe Nelson. “I believe that most of our grandparents wanted to hold the door open for all their grandchildren, not just some of them. Whether or not the grandchildren walk through the door and enroll, that is up to them.”
The meeting included a 2021 business and financial report to shareholders. Sealaska’s net income grew by $5 million over 2020 to $61 million in 2021. Shareholder benefits spending was $26.7 million in 2021, down from $28.5 million in 2020, when Sealaska provided $1.8 million in pandemic-related additional benefits. The Southeast Alaska-based Native Corporation has a $700 million business portfolio.