Sealaska shareholders to decide whether to remove blood quantum requirement

a symbol on a buliding
A Sealaska corporate logo adorns the roof of the Southeast Alaska Native corporation’s headquarters in Juneau on May 2, 2018. The logo has representations of the Eagle and Raven moieties of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

Shareholders of Sealaska will vote in June on whether to get rid of a blood quantum requirement for descendant shareholders.

Sealaska is the regional Alaska Native Corporation of Southeast Alaska. When the corporation was formed under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, only Alaska Native people in Southeast Alaska who were already born could be shareholders. Those people are original shareholders.

In 2007, those shareholders voted to allow their descendants to enroll — but only if they had one quarter Alaska Native blood and had proof of it on a Certificate of Indian Blood from the U.S. government.

Sealaska surveyed its shareholders in November 2021 and about 4,000 of the corporation’s 23,000 shareholders responded. Sixty-nine percent of respondents want to get rid of the blood quantum requirement, 23% want to keep it and 8% are neutral.

In the survey, people who want to get rid of the requirement said that it’s keeping their children and grandchildren out of the corporation, and it’s keeping them from learning about their culture. They said that blood quantum is a colonial construct created by the federal government to erase Native people and that it’s not how Native people identify themselves.

People who took the survey also have concerns about letting more shareholders in because it will dilute their stock and dividends will be smaller. And they don’t want smaller dividends to negatively impact elders.

If the requirement is eliminated, Sealaska estimates that about 10,000 more people would be eligible to enroll.

Shareholders will be able to vote online in early May up until Sealaska’s annual meeting on June 25. The meeting will be streamed live and in person at Centennial Hall in Juneau.

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