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Commemorating the Signing of ANCSA; Hosted by the Alaska Native Heritage Center  -  Part 3 - Adam Kroto
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Gloria O’Neil: Thank you so much for your comments, Willie. They were great.

Next, I’d like to introduce you to Mr. Adam Kroto. Adam is a tribal member of the Native village of Tyonek and a shareholder of CIRI. He was born in 1932 in the village of Tyonek where he continues to live. During his early years, from 1965 to 1980, he was one of the first councilmen of the Native village of Tyonek. He held several officer positions, including secretary, treasurer, president and vice president. He worked mostly with late president Albert Kaloa, Jr. He also was one of the first individuals in the region to help create the Settlement Act, and he supported Tyonek’s generous financial contributions to AFN. Mr. Kroto lives a subsistence lifestyle and has raised eight children who’ve all turned out to be very successful.

Adam Kroto
Adam Kroto: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. You kinda caught me off guard here, I wasn’t prepared to come in until I got a phone call yesterday and I didn’t have anything prepared to tell you, so I’ll speak from experience.

When we first started the Cook Inlet Region, we didn’t know what the name would be, we didn’t know how to incorporate. The late George Miller said first we had to incorporate. Then we started talking about it, picking the chairman, secretary, and the vice chairman, picking the board of directors, and having meetings. And believe me, those meetings were not like this.

There’s a small little office on Fourth Avenue called the Tyonek Building, and we had that office for a very long time, and people started coming in and that office got too small, so we moved to Fifth Avenue, close to the old medical center. We moved there and more people were interested. We were broke. We didn’t know what to do; we didn’t know how to get money. Finally that place got too small, then we moved to Spenard.

There were more and more people taking interest, and we had our first big meeting. It was advertised on TV and newspapers and radio that we would have a meeting at the Fourth Avenue Theater. That was the biggest place we could find. That place was really full of Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts coming over to pay attention and find out what we were doing. Nobody knew what we were doing until we had that big meeting. When that meeting came about, everybody was very happy.

We stayed there for a long time. The chairman said all the board members and everybody who wanted to say their piece had three minutes. The board of directors and everybody would be talking and the chairman would interrupt (knock, knock, knock), your time is up. Then they got George Miller from Kenai, and he started speaking his piece about the land. If you look on the back of your sheet of the drawings of the regions -- Cook Inlet, Northern District, Northwest, West, Aleutian Chain, Cook Inlet, Southeast -- we didn’t know what to name them. Finally someone said, well, we’ll call this North Slope. Yeah, and we’ll pick a board of directors. We couldn’t have a meeting with them all the time, so we decided we’d have to send a delegation from this meeting to North Slope to incorporate and teach what we’re doing here, what we wanted to do.

We sent delegations -- people from all over Alaska to go to different regions to incorporate and that was a success. That’s what we’re living on today. We didn’t know what to do, and they were bringing back information. Will it be beneficial? Yes, it would be beneficial to all of us to save our land, that’s what we’re fighting for. That came out.

One time the chairman was banging his gavel on the table, saying to George Miller, “George, your time is up.” George said, “Leave me alone, I’m running on Indian time!” and he stood up there and talked for a long time. That was the late George Miller who was very active in the lands, in our meetings there.

And Flora Seal, I don’t know where she is now, if she’s still around, but she was very knowledgeable in what we were doing. She was a really powerful woman. She was our secretary there, and our board members was growing larger and larger. The region needed some money, but no one could get any, so our friend, our late president Fred Bismark, Sr., from Tyonek, said he’d see if he could get some money from the village of Tyonek and loan it to Cook Inlet Region. If the region was successful, it could pay the money back without interest. If it was unsuccessful, forget it, the money would be gone. But that money helped out quite a bit that time, and it was paid back years and years later … without interest.

I was the chairman of the board that time, and we had a big meeting. I ran for chairman again, but I lost by a small margin. It was like a stepping stone -- higher and higher and higher. So that’s where we are right now. We’re at the top step. Let’s keep on going, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you.

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