It’s only been in the last 18 months or so that I’ve even given any thought to ANSA (the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act), and if this strikes some as odd, as ANCSA has HUGE implications for Alaska’s citizens, not just its Native citizens. In my recent experience, most Natives find it’s language, findings and implications so non-intuitive that it creates a blind-spot for many. Adding insult to injury, it seems to me that most non-Natives seem to become uncomfortable with ANCSA discussions, and actively shield their mind from considering its implications as it relates to fundamental justice…or more accurately, injustice.
I am an odd person…I went from almost no consideration of ANCSA and its implications to running last year as an independent candidate for the board of directors of my “urban corporation”, Shee Atika Inc…within months. I didn’t run due to a sudden need for the stature and perks of being a director in an ANCSA corporation (I can hardly overstate the stature directors have in our culture today), I ran out of a sense of absolute distress at what I saw as an extremely slipshod method of running a corporation that represents to my awakened self nothing less than 10,000 years of time on the land as Tlingit people. This is what treaties and negations have brought me instead of my ancestral claims to my homeland…I am given a broken down corporation run be incompetent despots.
The injustice to those who can truly see what has transpired is jaw-dropping, but the sense of apathy and an urge to roll over and go back to sleep, to trust that the institutions that have been promised to us as an answer for our loss of identity and the loss of our homeland, and the coordinated, long running assault on our language and culture by western governments and religions…this trust many have is hugely distressing to me.
I can only say this; I find this situation unacceptable. In my life, at this moment, I revel in my strength as a Tlingit man, and I say this to those who care to listen…what I find unacceptable in my life today, I REFUSE to accept. I will call manure what it is…manure, and I will do the work in front of me to do what MUST be done. I couldn’t care less if others follow. I actually only wish that every Tlingit man and woman accept what responsibility has been laid at their feet and simply DO the work that must be done.
I reject our directors as the weak men and women that they are. If they were strong they wouldn’t hide behind weasel words and the skirts of their lawyers. They wouldn’t insulate themselves from the voices of this corporations owners by cheap tricks and wordplay in our corporation’s bylaws. I call on every director to step down and accept the shame that their actions have brought them.
I ask each of you who are reading this if you see that you have a role in making Shee Atika what our ancestors imagined it would be as they sacrificed and sacrificed to make our land claims safe for eternity…and if you wake up…don’t go back to sleep.