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Commemorating the Signing of ANCSA; Hosted by Commonwealth North Celebration  -  Part 5 - Byron Mallott
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Byron Mallott
Byron Mallott: The well being of Alaska Natives resulting from ANCSA, I think, is a mixed bag. It’s been powerful, there’s no question about that. Think of Alaska today without ANCSA, without the ANCSA institutions. It’s hard to do. Julie made a very critical point and that is that ANCSA’s very much a living document. It has been changed, and not just technically over the years. It has been changed fundamentally from the act that was first passed. More than anything else it has been changed because our attitudes as citizens of the United States have changed. The notion of assimilation of Native Americans as vital public policy has changed. ANCSA was really a piece of assimilation law, but it has changed and our attitudes have changed also.

In the future I think that the relationship between corporate governance and tribal governance needs to be reconciled. As corporations become more and more the economic vehicles that they were envisioned to be, it’s important to recognize that corporate institutions have no use for non-economic assets. As a matter of fact, non-economic assets cost money to own. Over time there will be a rationalization of stewardship of ANCSA lands between tribes and ANCSA corporations as the corporations become more and more the economic vehicles in the very focused way that they have to be to succeed. In terms of Native governance, I think that the almost overwhelming role of ANCSA corporations in these past 30 years, especially the first 20 years, has been in transition for about the last decade. That overwhelming role that essentially consumed all of our energies, took all of our leadership and focused it within those institutions has begun the change. And so, in terms of governance the relationship of the institutions that carry us into the future as Native people, is one that is evolving. I don’t think we really know how it will ultimately be resolved, but it is happening; there is a change taking place.

In terms of our well being, as I said, it’s kind of a mixed bag. Corporate institutions are all about economic success, they’re all about individual shareholder rights. Julie mentioned some of the difficulty we’ve had to deal with there. Who we are as Native people is different in terms of values and philosophy. We struggled a bit with who we were but it’s coming back and it’s coming back very, very strong. As we move into the future it will be interesting and important for Alaska to watch and assist with the process of Native people restructuring, reviewing, reshaping their institutions; to move into the future in ways that allow us to be Native people but at the same time continue to fulfill the promise of ANCSA to create economic viability in our state.

I’d like to close with just one brief comment. As in any effort, somehow allowing the ability to come together is very, very important. In those early years, we had no money. We really had no organization. In 1966, Wally Hickel was elected governor of our state and very early on recognized that this was an issue that was powerful and profound and had to be dealt with. He created, using state dollars, the Rural Affairs Commission and that Rural Affairs Commission was essentially made up of all of the members of the newly created AFN. That allowed us very early on to use state resources to come together and to meet and move this issue down the road. Thank you.

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Next page:   Part 6 - E. Lee Gorsuch, Byron Mallott and Willie Hensley Pages:  1  2  3  4  5  6 

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