FOUR TH QUA R TER , 2020 VOLUME 5 4 | IS SUE 4
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Alaska Native Corporations and the CARES Act
New housing opens up in Point Hope
RSI partners to continue DOE mission at legacy management sites
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Table of contents President’s message..............................................................................................1 New housing opens up in Point Hope ..................................................................3 Alaska Native Corporations and the CARES Act................................................... 4 ARA and ANVCA welcome Supreme Court’s decision to hear CARES Act case...... 6 ARA and ANVCA comment on amicus brief filed by Alaska delegation...............7 CARES Act overview .............................................................................................8 Navigate to brighter financial health in the New Year....................................... 10 RSI partners to continue DOE mission at legacy management sites................ 11 LRS recipient of ConocoPhillips award.............................................................. 12 In honor and remembrance - 2020.................................................................... 13 VOICE 2020 Open Letter..................................................................................... 14
Qaunaksriñiqput STEWARDSHIP We employ financial discipline when managing our land and assets to ensure that increases in business performance and shareholder returns are sustainable.
President’s message RE X A . ROCK SR .
With what can be best described as a sense of relief, we have finally said goodbye to 2020 and can now look to the New Year with a renewed sense of optimism and energy. In the past 12 months, we’ve seen COVID-19, a highlycontagious virus, make its way around the world, growing and blossoming into a full-blown global pandemic and affecting the lives of millions of people, including those across our region of Alaska’s North Slope. This health emergency (and its far-reaching effects) is far from over, but I’m encouraged by the swift and efficient actions taken by our national health experts to bring a vaccine online that is giving hope to the most vulnerable among us. I pray this effort saves lives and can help our communities slowly return to normal - a time when friends, family and co-workers could safely travel and meet without the threat of spreading a potentially debilitating and deadly disease.
“...our emphasis on diversification as well as the decisive action by our board of directors to cut costs was critical in allowing ASRC to make important progress toward stabilizing our lines of business...”
The coronavirus, of course, combined with a drop in oil prices, greatly impacted the Corporation throughout a majority of the past year as well. In some areas in which we operate, workers were forced to stay home while projects were delayed or canceled altogether. In Alaska, the decline in the price of oil as well as a drop in demand affected our local operations. Fortunately, our emphasis on diversification as well as the decisive action by our board of directors to cut costs was critical in allowing ASRC to make important progress toward stabilizing our lines of business and I look forward to continuing that trend. 2020 will also be remembered for the loss of two North Slope leaders and whaling captains who helped form the Corporation into what it is today – the largest locallyowned and operated business in Alaska. In January of last year, we said goodbye to Wesley Uġiaqtaq Aiken, a dear friend of ASRC who fought for the Iñupiat land claims in the 70s and eventually led our Lands Department for many years. In late September, former ASRC president and CEO Jacob Anaġi Adams passed away, after decades and decades of leadership and service to the Arctic Slope as well as the rest of the state. Both men leave behind quite the legacy of improving the lives of our people and are greatly missed. Continued on page 2
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Even through so much disappointment and sadness in 2020, there were some positive developments that impacted the Corporation – including the defeat of Ballot Measure 1 in early November. The “Fair Share Act” (as it was called) would have dramatically driven up the taxes on the oil and gas industry – putting Alaska’s economic recovery at risk as well as jeopardizing existing and future jobs in the industry. My thanks to all of the members of the OneAlaska coalition (more than 400 local businesses) who helped send a very clear message. In late summer, more than 70 Kaktovik students were able to return to the classroom, seven months after the only school in the North Slope community was completely destroyed by fire. The modules that make up the new school were built and installed by a team from ASRC Construction and I thank those workers for their tireless efforts. What a blessing for the students in Barter Island as well as the community to have a place to return to and learn.
Lastly, I’d like to pass along my congratulations to the teams which managed to safely land whales during the late summer and fall hunting season across our region of the Arctic Slope. In all, 21 were harvested; this list includes three in the community of Kaktovik, three in Nuiqsut and 15 in Barrow. This work helps to feed North Slope communities during our long, dark days of winter and is greatly appreciated. From myself as well as the rest of the board and senior leadership team, we wish you God’s Blessings and a very happy – and let’s not forget safe and healthy – 2021. Taikuu,
Rex A. Rock Sr. President and CEO
New housing opens up in Point Hope
In late fall of 2020 the North Slope community of Point Hope welcomed a new housing complex – comprised of six two-bedroom as well as four one-bedroom units. The project was a collaborative effort of several ASRC companies, village corporations and the North Slope Borough. The modules were completed in Anchorage and then barged to Point Hope – all within a six-month period. The building is part of a project to design and construct the most efficient and cost effective multi-family housing in the North Slope Borough communities of not only Point Hope, but also Atqasuk, Point Lay and Nuiqsut. “We are excited to see this project wrap up,” said Jeremiah Campbell, Builders Choice Modular operations manager. “The local resources from the North Slope Borough and Tikigaq were absolutely instrumental in helping us complete this project successfully. That was even more important with all of the COVID-19 restrictions placed on local employees and contractors to make sure the community remained safe.”
constructed with fork pocket beams in the floor framing. These modules were lifted and installed using loaders. All the modules were designed to weigh less than 30000 pounds, to make sure the loaders available at the project site could lift them. Most modules required two loaders to lift them, which required a fair amount of loader operating skill when one loader had to be driven backwards.
The building, in total, is almost 8,000 square feet. Workers did the bulk of the exterior work in the late summer in order to not have to endure cold weather construction challenges in the community later in the year. Due to lack of crane availability in the village, all the houses were
ASRC Construction would like to acknowledge that the community of Point Hope was able to take a reasonable approach in terms of testing/travel/quarantine restrictions to allow essential work to continue within the community, with minimal impact to outside crews.
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Alaska Native Corporations and the CARES Act For more information: https://ancsaregional.com/cares-act/
The global COVID-19 pandemic has created economic hardships for indigenous populations across the country, including those across the state of Alaska. In an effort to ease this impact, Alaska Native Corporations have applied for funding under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This package includes $8 billion set aside for a Tribal Relief Fund, which would provide meaningful assistance to our vulnerable shareholder population and regional communities. The CARES Act Tribal Relief Funding is clear: Alaska Native regional and village corporations are tribes under the CARES Act and are eligible for funding. That distribution has been challenged, and the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case. There is no question that we continue to face a seminal health crisis that threatens Indian Country and the world. It’s a time for Native organizations across our country to stand and work together to fight COVID-19 and repair our economies. When Indian Country, Alaska Native corporations (ANCs) and tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations align as one, our ability to serve our people is powerful. When we publicly bicker, the benefit comes not to our tribes and our people, but to those who oppose our traditions, self-determination and economic opportunity.
Why are tribes so frustrated that ANCs are included in the CARES Act Tribal Relief Funding? All legislation is complex. At ANCSA Regional Association, we believe it stems from misinformation and miscommunication around the role of ANCs and what is included in the CARES Act Tribal Relief Funding provisions.
It’s important to remember that in Alaska, tribes do not own land and not all Alaska Natives are enrolled in tribes. Land and population are criteria Treasury is considering in the formula to decide who should receive CARES Act Tribal Relief Funding. Also, Alaska Native corporations’ mandate under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act is to support our Alaska Native shareholders economically, culturally and socially. If ANCs are left out of the CARES Act Tribal Relief Funding, Alaska Native people will be severely underrepresented in aid that is needed to protect Alaska’s rural communities from COVID-19 and repair our economies.
Why are Alaska Native corporations included in the CARES Act for Tribal Relief Funding? The CARES Act Tribal Relief Funding is clear: Alaska Native regional and village corporations are tribes
under the CARES Act and are eligible for funding. The Departments of Treasury and Interior have both affirmed their interpretations that ANCs (on behalf of their Alaska Native shareholders) were intended by Congress to be included with other tribes in the act’s Tribal Relief Fund provisions.
How long has the Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act definition been in place? Congress has used this definition for tribe for more than four decades. Were regional ANCs involved in drafting the definition used in the CARES Act Tribal Relief Funding? ANCs were NOT involved in the decision to use the Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act definition for who should be included in the CARES Act, but Congress has used this definition for more than four decades.
Why should ANCs be eligible for federal relief money designated for local governments? Lower 48 tribes and ANCs are different by law but serve some similar purposes. As Alaska Native corporations, our mandate under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act is to support our Alaska Native shareholders economically, culturally and socially. We have a legal responsibility of service to our Alaska Native shareholders and communities. We work collaboratively with our Alaska tribes because our tribal rights were bifurcated by the federal government such that our tribes have sovereign status, while our Alaska Native corporations own our Native lands. Together, we represent the full set of interests of our Alaska Native people. In this time of need, Alaskans are stepping up to provide critical support to Elders and other vulnerable populations. Alaska Native corporations are doing
our part by partnering with tribes and non-profits in our regions to flatten the curve and help our rural economies recover. It will be up to each Alaska Native corporation to determine if they will accept Tribal Relief Funding on behalf of their shareholders and their communities. As Alaska Native corporations, our mandate under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act is to support our Alaska Native shareholders economically, culturally and socially. We have a responsibility of service to our Alaska Native shareholders and communities. The challenge of COVID-19 is unparalleled and will require response from all Alaska Native institutions. Tribes, village corporations, and regional corporations will have the opportunity to make collective decisions with some or all of the funds they receive. Many, many needs do and will continue to exist, and it’s premature to say with exact precision how the funds will be expended.
Why do Alaska Native corporations need Tribal Relief Funding? More than 80 percent of our statewide communities are accessible only by air or water, and Alaska Native regional corporations, village corporations, and tribal health organizations are often the largest employers in areas with minimal economic activity. Alaska Native corporations will play a critical role in helping rural Alaska economies to recover from COVID-19, and Tribal Relief Funding will assist Alaska Native people and communities to recover from COVID-19.
How many people, roughly, will this money serve? According to the 2014 Census update, 18% of Alaska’s general population is American Indian or Alaska Native - the highest rate for this racial group of any state. Therefore, the CARES Act funds could serve more than 150,000 people, the majority of whom are Alaska Native corporation shareholders.
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ARA and ANVCA welcome Supreme Court’s decision to hear CARES Act case In early January of 2021, the ANCSA Regional Association (ARA) and the Alaska Native Village Corporation Association (ANVCA) issued this statement following the Supreme Court of the United States’ decision to grant certiorari to the litigation related to CARES Act funds for Alaska Native people. The ANCSA Regional Association and the Alaska Native Village Corporation Association welcome the Supreme Court’s decision to accept our case. As Alaska’s harsh winter season rages on, Alaska Native people and Alaska Native communities continue to suffer disproportionately from the devastating effects of the pandemic. The latest COVID-19 relief bill did not include funds for tribal organizations – making it imperative for Alaska Native corporations (ANCs) to finally gain access to the CARES Act tribal funds Congress intended for us last spring. This long overdue emergency assistance is critical to the thousands of Alaska Native people
who rely on ANCs for vital health, education and social service programs. We hold strong our belief that Alaska Native people should not be punished for the unique tribal system that Congress established for the state 50 years ago. Nor should they be denied critical aid in a global pandemic because of a law’s use of commas. We are simply asking for Alaska Native people to receive the same support provided to millions of other Americans. We thank the Supreme Court for taking up this case and we look forward to making our argument.
ARA and ANVCA comment on amicus brief filed by Alaska delegation In late November, the ANCSA Regional Association (ARA) and the Alaska Native Village Corporation Association (ANVCA) issued the following statement following the Alaska delegationâ€™s filing of an amicus brief on our behalf to the Supreme Court of the United States: The ANCSA Regional Association and the Alaska Native Village Corporation Association would like to extend their deepest thanks to Senators Murkowski and Sullivan and Representative Young for their unwavering support of Alaska Native people. Our delegation has supported us in countless ways over the years, but never has their support been more critical to our survival than during the proceedings of this litigation. As the delegation noted in its filing, the realities of the pandemic in Alaska are harsh. Alaska Native and American Indian people currently account for 32.3 percent of pandemic deaths in Alaska. Without CARES Act resources for Alaska Native shareholders, many
of our people will be left without any relief funding in their time of urgent need. Each member of the Alaska delegation has a long history drafting policies related to and serving on committees that oversee Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act issues. They know the nuances of tribal language and eligibility and have made it clear, time and time again, that they intended to include ANCs in the distribution of CARES Act funds. The Alaska delegation and the State of Alaska have both filed amicus briefs on our behalf because they see firsthand the incredible burdens placed on Alaska Native people during the this time, and know that COVID relief will not be provided by other sources or government entities as the appeals court suggested. We thank the delegation once again for their steadfast support now and always, and we look forward to arguing our case in front of the Supreme Court.
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The Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation et al v. Steve Mnuchin 2020 KEY DATES
CARES ACT BACKGROUND
Select group of Native American tribes sues the Department of Treasury to challenge how the federal government distributes relief money intended for tribes under CARES Act, specifically to keep any of the $8 billion out of hands of ANCs.
Following the first teleconference hearing on April 23, U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta issues a preliminary injunction in favor of the plaintiff. Judge Mehta temporarily blocked the Department of the Treasury from distributing any of the $8 billion to ANCs, holding that they do not qualify as “tribal governments” under Title V of CARES Act.
Second teleconference hearing, where ANCs argue that they carry the weight of providing services to Alaskan Natives in remote areas of the state where there is no federally recognized tribe to step up.
U.S. District Court of Columbia Judge Mehta rules in favor of the defendants and Alaska Native village and regional corporations, determining that they are eligible for CARES Act funds.
Plaintiffs file Notice of Appeal to D.C. Circuit Court.
In its May 5 guidance, the Treasury Department, in consultation with the Department of Interior, “concluded that Alaska Native regional and village corporations as defined in or established pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act are eligible to receive payments from the Fund.” Alaska Native corporations (ANCs) and Alaskan tribes were allocated around 9 percent of the $8 billion earmarked for tribal organizations in the CARES Act. This percentage was calculated based on population numbers within Indian Country. However, payments were withheld from ANCs – and still today have yet to be released – due to this pending litigation. CARES Act determines eligibility for tribal relief funding based on the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act definition of “Indian tribes,” which states “any Indian tribe, band, nation, or other organized group or community, including any Alaska Native village or regional or village corporation … which is recognized as eligible for the special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians.” The Plaintiffs’ argument undermines not only the role of ANCs, but Alaska Native peoples’ status as Natives in the eye of the federal government. If left to stand, the case could set a dangerous precedent blocking Alaska Native people’s access to future critical federal relief funding programs.
Oral arguments in D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Circuit Judges Henderson, Millett and Katsas rule that Alaska Native village and regional corporations are not eligible to receive funds, reversing Judge Mehta’s June 26 decision.
Alaska Native corporations file petition for Writ of Certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court
BACKGROUND: ALASKA’S UNIQUE TRIBAL SYSTEM The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA) marked a new Congressional approach to Federal Indian policy. Unlike the typical reservation system, Congress sought to empower Alaska’s Native people by giving them control over their own land through the settlement. In addition to resolving land claims, ANCSA mandated the creation of socially responsible, for-profit entities, which Congress termed “Alaska Native corporations,” tasked with promoting the social, cultural, and economic advancement of their Alaska Native people and communities in perpetuity. Unlike conventional corporations, “shareholders” of ANCs are Alaska Native people. No ANC allows for the sale of stock – it can only be gifted, willed, or bequeathed.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING Below are a few of the key parties who have offered their opinion on ANCs receiving Title V CARES Act funds: “ISDEAA is aimed at providing government services – including healthcare – to Indians by partnering with Tribal organizations, including, at times, ANCs. It stands to reason that Congress, in its effort to distribute emergency funds quickly to Indians under the CARES Act, intended to get those dollars in the hands of the same entities that deliver public services to Indians. In the lower 48 states, those entities are largely Tribal governments in the traditional sense, but in Alaska, those entities include Alaska Native village and regional corporations.”
– DC District Court Final Memorandum Opinion “It is indisputable that the services ANCs provide to Alaska Native communities— including healthcare, elder care, educational support and housing assistance—have been made only more vital due to the pandemic. I can think of no reason that the Congress would exclude ANCs (and thus exclude many remote and vulnerable Alaska Natives) from receiving and expending much-needed Title V funds.”
– U.S. Court of Appeals’ Judge Henderson’s concurring opinion “The D.C. Circuit’s “confiden[ce]” in the State of Alaska’s or the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ ability “to fill the void” in immediately assisting the Alaska Natives who are served by the ANCs rather than federally recognized tribes is misplaced. The State is not responsible for fulfilling the federal government’s trust responsibilities. Nor is it financially or administratively capable of suddenly providing the programs and services ANCs and other “Indian tribes” have long provided. Congress and the Treasury Secretary set aside a portion of the $8 billion earmarked for Indian tribes for this very purpose.”
– Amicus Brief filed by the State of Alaska “Because Congress determined to further the self-determination of Alaska Natives, in part, by including ANCs in the ISDA definition of “Indian Tribe,” reading ANCs out of the law will disturb 45 years of settled Federal Indian policy toward Alaska Natives. Moreover, not including ANCs would severely disadvantage Alaska Natives and their corporations compared to American Indians and their reservations.”
– Amicus Brief filed by the Alaska Federation of Natives “…We could easily have chosen that definition to include only Federally Recognized Tribes in the CARES Act, if that was our intent. We did not. We chose the broader term and we know the difference between the two.”
– Amicus Brief filed by the Alaska Delegation
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Navigate to brighter financial health in the new year. Follow this simple checklist for your next steps in retirement planning. The new year is the perfect time to improve your financial health and create the retirement you want. Log in to workplace.schwab.com and spend a few minutes reviewing your Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and Subsidiaries Employees Retirement Plan. See what your plan offers and check an item off this list today.
Get advice. You have access to personalized advice that calculates a retirement income goal, identifies a savings rate, and provides a plan investment allocation recommendation. The advice service is provided by Morningstar Investment Management LLC, an independent registered investment adviser. To access advice, log in to workplace.schwab.com and go to Advice.1
Maximize your match. When you contribute to your retirement plan account, your employer will match 100% of each dollar on the first 4% of eligible compensation you contribute, up to $19,500 in 2021. To maximize your company match, log in to workplace.schwab.com and go to Manage Account › Contributions.2
Take care of those who matter most. Designate or review your beneficiary elections annually or whenever you experience a life event, such as marriage, the birth or adoption of a child, or divorce. To designate or review your account beneficiary(s), log in to workplace.schwab.com › My Profile › Beneficiaries.
Stay connected with the mobile app. The Schwab Workplace Retirement App lets you check your account balance, update your contribution elections, and enter new investment instructions for future contributions from your mobile device. Download the app at workplace.schwab.com/mobile.3
Check your progress toward retirement. My Retirement Progress™ is an interactive tool that helps you find out where you stand and regularly check your progress toward your savings goal. You can see how changing variables, such as your estimated retirement date, could affect your estimated income in retirement. Review your progress today. Log in to workplace.schwab.com.4
Need help with completing your checklist? Visit the Learning Center for retirement planning help on your terms. There’s a wealth of practical resources, from money basics and smart tools to planning and investing information. Access on-demand videos, webcasts, and articles on managing your assets and keeping your retirement on track. Log in to workplace.schwab.com to get started.
Call Participant Services at 1-800-724-7526 from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.
RSI partners to continue DOE mission at legacy management sites RSI EnTech (RSI), along with partners Amentum and TFE, have officially kicked off transition of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Legacy Management Support Services (LMSS) contract. Following a Notice to Proceed from DOE on December 1, the RSI team initiated activities to implement a transition approach that emphasizes collaboration, communication and workforce engagement. Working closely with the office of Legacy Management (LM), the 120-day transition period focuses on delivering a safe, secure, successful and cost-effective transition of the existing contract with minimal disruption to the workforce. RSI President Steve Selecman noted, “Our talented leadership team has been hard at work preparing for the LMSS transition. We are excited and honored to begin working with LM on our transition plans to keep the mission moving forward.” Mike Logan, LMSS program manager, expressed his excitement with the new partnership, “We are pleased to begin partnering efforts with LM to achieve a shared
goal of fulfilling post-closure responsibilities and ensuring future protection of human health and the environment. Mission success is a shared responsibility, and our partnering approach keeps us united and committed to continued progress across the program.” LM director Carmelo Melendez said, “We welcome the collaboration of RSI, Amentum and TFE to help us with our varied and important missions, because LM is well-positioned to expand our responsibilities in the next few years as DOE continues to make steady environmental cleanup progress. We have a saying in Legacy Management that we take it to heart: ‘One team, One mission.’” Created by DOE in December 2003, the Legacy Management contract manages post-environmental remediation activities at former defense-related sites that were part of the Department’s nuclear weapons complex. LM is responsible for more than 100 sites nationwide and anticipates that responsibility growing to more than 125 sites by 2030.
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Little Red Services recipient of ConocoPhillips 2019 supplier recognition award During a virtual ceremony in late December, the Little Red Services, Inc. (LRS) team received the ConocoPhillips 2019 Supplier Recognition Award for the company’s ‘Focus on Execution’. The 13 recipient companies were chosen from a worldwide network of suppliers. Recipients were honored for exhibiting exceptional leadership in observance of the ConocoPhillips S.P.I.R.I.T. (Safety, People, Integrity, Responsibility, Innovation and Teamwork) values. Suppliers were recognized for two distinctions: focus on execution and doing business better. ConocoPhillips global business units generated nominations internally and winners were carefully selected by a cross-functional committee of senior managers.
“I’m proud of how this team engaged with our client and suppliers to secure, prepare, and modify equipment to deliver exceptional well testing.” – Jerry Webre, president of LRS “Since the 80s we’ve been partnering with ConocoPhillips Alaska on the North Slope,” said Jerry Webre, president of LRS. “ConocoPhillips Alaska asked if we could double our exploration well testing capacity for the 2019 exploration season. Our team did an outstanding job of pulling together a second full kit in a few months. I’m proud of how this team engaged with our client and suppliers to secure, prepare, and modify equipment to deliver exceptional well testing.”
In honor and remembrance - 2020 Adams Jr, Eddie
Oyagak, Martha Marie Iqilan
Adams Sr, George
Hope, Nicole Loraine
Palmer, Noel Allen
Adams Sr, Jacob
Hugo, Patrick T
Panigeo Jr, Joseph
Kagak, Jacob Ahyoovik
Aguilar, Kate Ruth
Kaonak, Thomas Richard
Ahgook, Dora R A A N
Kasak Jr, David
Pawluk, Elizabeth Joyce
Ahmaogak Sr, Lawrence
Kasak, Helen K
Peetook, Rossman E
Kayutak, Byrd Kayalook
Ahsoak Sr, James
Kelly, Gary Dean
Pierce Jr, Harold William
Ahtuangaruak Jr, Thomas
Putugook, Donald P
Aishanna, Freddie Charles
Kirkman, Jill Marie
Ramoth, Ben D
Akootchook, Isaac Kupak
Richardson, Melody Marie
Akpik, Bubba Zak
Rowray, Rexford B
Amundson, Virginia T
Koonuk, Harold M
Russell, Albert Lucas
Kubanyi, Bobby Lloyd
Saganna Sr, David
Aveoganna, Isabel Rose
Lampe Sr, James
Sceeles, Juanita Mae
Beals, Kate Krushorna
Lane, Lennie Alfred
Sikvayugak, Rhoda Violet
Berde, Anna Genevieve
Simmonds Jr, Ronald E
Bodfish Jr, Waldo
Liljeblad, Beverly A
Brower, Michele K
Sphung, Michael Ralph
Long, John Gilbert
Carter, May K
Matoomealook, Anna Mae
Matthews, Betty Ann
Stotts, Anthony Edward
Dibello, Nancy Marie
Mekiana Jr, Justus
Edwards, Anthony S
Teerik, Lenora Ann
Edwardsen, William Bubs
Teigland, Devin James O.
Ekak, Charles A
Morry, Martina A
Ticket, Karlene D
Elavgak Jr, John
Fravel, Gloria Marie
Nukapigak, Sara F
Ungarook, Jennifer Ethel
Fuller, Maude K
Oenga, Clara Grace
Upicksoun, Allen Ahgakean
Gordon, Billy William
Okpeaha, Lora Ann
Grantham, Fae Jeannette
Okpik Sr, Harry
Warden, Mary Ann
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federal agencies such as the Center for Disease Control, as well as the State of Alaska, to the North Slope public.
Published in the Arctic Sounder January 28, 2021 North Slope Borough residents, Quyasugtiglu nuttaaq ukkiuq – Happy New Year! It feels refreshing to turn the page on 2020 in what was truly a year unlike any other. We were faced with an abundance of challenges that tested our resilience, strength and unity. From a worldwide pandemic that further isolated our communities and a fire that destroyed Harold Kaveolook School in Kaktovik, to the passing of some of the North Slope’s most influential leaders – it was a very difficult 12 months. But we should take pride in how we came together as a region, supported each other and persevered in adapting to a “new normal”. We should commend one another for progressing in the face of adversity. Over the last year, Voice of the Arctic Iñupiat (VOICE) has worked on many important issues brought forth by North Slope communities to ensure local engagement in decisions that affect the future of the region and the well-being of its people. We worked not only to be heard, but also to play an active role in overcoming challenges and pursuing objectives that make the North Slope a better place to live, learn, work and subsist. We would like to highlight some of the issues we engaged in and the progress we made in 2020 toward helping to ensure a region that’s healthy, prosperous and culturally grounded. NEW VOICE MEMBERS Part of what allows VOICE to make meaningful contributions to decisions affecting Arctic communities is its diverse membership, which is comprised of tribes, Native regional and village corporations, local nonprofits, health care and educational institutions, and others such as the North Slope Borough. Last year, VOICE was proud to welcome the Iñupiat Community of the Arctic Slope (ICAS) and the Native Village of Barrow as new members, both of which played important roles in many of our efforts. The addition of these organizations brings VOICE’s membership total to 24. COVID-19 RESOURCES The year 2020 will be remembered for the global coronavirus outbreak that resulted in the most severe public health emergency in more than 100 years. In March, when the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic, VOICE moved quickly to compile and disseminate information from
With a locally-focused approach to COVID-19 communications, VOICE worked with Arctic Slope Native Association, ICAS, Utqiaġvik Mayor’s office and others to discuss coronavirus measures to mitigate exposure and keep communities safe. We communicated regularly with the North Slope Borough as well as individual villages to keep the region informed about resolutions, executive orders, travel information and available health resources. As schools closed, businesses shuttered and air carriers were grounded, it became clear that COVID-19 posed a threat not only to the health of our people, but also to the local economy, supply chain, and effectiveness of tribal and educational institutions. VOICE researched federal aid opportunities through the CARES Act and Coronavirus Relief Fund, as well as grants and relief assistance for tribes and small businesses. We communicated aid information to our members and created an exhaustive COVID-19 page on our website as a go-to information resource for the North Slope. In 2021, VOICE will continue to actively monitor pandemic responses, regional vaccine availability, and communicate opportunities North Slope entities can pursue to help alleviate the effects of COVID-19. For more information visit voiceofthearcticinupiat.org. BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETINGS Voice of the Arctic Iñupiat held two board of directors meetings in 2020. In January, the board met for the first time in Point Hope – home to VOICE headquarters and several of its member organizations. Governor Mike Dunleavy attended and participated, in what was his first visit to the community, along with the commissioners from Health and Social Services as well as Education and Early Development. Other meeting guests included executives with the United States Postal Service (USPS). Improvements to the North Slope’s bypass mail system has been a board priority and VOICE worked diligently in 2020 advocating for changes to the system. The USPS presented the board with improvement updates, including standardized reports to streamline communications between hubs, air carriers and shippers as well as added personnel to monitor mail flow. In November, the board held its first virtual-only meeting in order to mitigate any negative health impacts associated with travel and in-person gatherings during COVID-19. The board meeting covered updates from 2020 – many of which are covered in this letter – and allowed members to set priority issues and goals for the coming year. Despite a virtual atmosphere, the board meeting was as meaningful, collaborative and productive as any in our six years as an organization.
ALASKA AIR CARRIERS ASSOCIATION CONVENTION & TRADESHOW
Route, which will ultimately help set rules for shipping and travel through Arctic waters.
In March, VOICE was involved in the Alaska Air Carriers Association & Tradeshow in Anchorage as part of its ongoing North Slope Air Carriers Partnership. VOICE participated as a member of the Reliable Customer Service Panel – an open dialogue on issues that affect communities, including ticket prices, infrastructure, and passenger and mail service. We took the opportunity to present concerns and offer suggestions brought forth by our membership and the North Slope public to improve services to rural Alaska.
VOICE established a working group to assist the USCG and North Slope Borough Wildlife Department gather data and information from communities for public comment, and to support the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission (AEWC) in their efforts to help the government determine the most appropriate Arctic route.
VOICE’s involvement at the convention was a result of its own 2019 workshop with the Alaska Air Carriers Association (AACA) and ten air carriers, including Alaska Airlines, Northern Air Cargo and others. TRIBAL BROADBAND SPECTRUM A lack of affordable, high-speed internet available to North Slope communities continues to hinder the quality of education for children, access to timely medical services for residents, and the sustainability of local businesses. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the importance of Arctic broadband as remote learning, telemedicine and e-commerce capabilities have become a necessity.
Some of the goals of the Port Access Route Study working group are to learn from the Bering Straits route process, gather sufficient data and input to make sound recommendations, ensure appropriate protections for marine mammal habitat, and work closely with the AEWC to protect whalers and subsistence usage. OUR VOICE. OUR VISION. It’s been a busy and challenging year, and Voice of the Arctic Iñupiat has worked hard to represent our membership, and the region as a whole, by making meaningful contributions to issues and programs that have the potential to impact our communities.
In July 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opened its Rural Tribal Priority Window, allowing American Indian and Alaska Native tribes to apply for unlicensed FCC broadband spectrum on their lands at no cost. The program gives ownership rights to approved applicants, and has the ability to establish or greatly expand high-speed internet access to communities across the region.
In 2020, VOICE continued its work on the NPR-A Impact Mitigation Grant Program, advocating to protect it against State of Alaska budget cuts and educating communities on how to successfully receive funding through the program. We partnered with our Alaska delegation in DC to fight elimination of Alaska’s bypass mail program; continued efforts to ensure that our Kaktovik members were heard and respected in the discussion about ANWR; raised concerns with the Alaska Federation of Natives regarding resolutions amending ANCSA; supported regional infrastructure improvements and development like the ASTAR program and affordable housing initiatives; and much more.
In 2020, VOICE partnered with ICAS to pursue FCC licensing. We worked with tribal organizations to increase awareness around the federal program and hosted teleconferences with the FCC and tribes. On July 24, ICAS submitted a broadband spectrum application covering the entire North Slope. Currently in the final approval process, the license would provide triballyowned broadband that has the potential to improve the lives of residents across the region. VOICE will continue to support these efforts and be an active resource throughout the postapplication process.
Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, an unstable economy and significant job losses impacting the region, VOICE enters 2021 with tremendous cause for optimism. As we usher in a new president and his administration, and state lawmakers convene in Juneau for the 32nd Legislature, we have the opportunity to build the bright future we envision for the North Slope. We have the ability to be involved, work together and speak as one on issues important to our communities. We will forever be remembered for the work we undertake today and the positive impact our efforts have on future generations.
ARCTIC COAST PORT ACCESS ROUTE STUDY
Another one of VOICE’s 2020 priorities was to actively participate in the development of the Arctic Coast Port Access Route Study. Two years ago, the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) began conducting a study to connect the Arctic with the Bering Strait Access
Sayers Tuzroyluk President, Voice of the Arctic Iñupiat
FO UR T H QUA R T ER , 2020
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Exciting News! The Top of the World Hotel in Utqiaġvik is about to reopen! On Monday, February 22, 2021, the Top of the World Hotel is once again opening its doors. However, in an effort to do our part in limiting the spread of the coronavirus, the hotel will be opening at 50% capacity until further notice. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding. Shareholder rate: Standard and ADA $175 (with tax) Shareholder rate: Deluxe room $224.00 (with tax) • Upgrade to deluxe room is possible based on availability • Rate may be discounted depending on number of nights booked • Must present shareholder card and ID to receive discounted rate All rates and upgrades are based on availability at the time of booking.
ASRC shareholders must show their shareholder ID card on their first visit and stay at the Top of the World Hotel. The shareholder’s ID card will be entered into the hotel database, and the next time the shareholder stays at the hotel, the front desk clerks will be notified that they are ASRC shareholders and will qualify for the lower hotel rate. The shareholder rate is intended for shareholder leisure stay only and cannot be used for medical, business, receptive, or international stays.
Coming soon (mid-March of 2021) the Niggivikput Restaurant will also reopen for take-out only. Please be advised, strict COVID-19 protocols will be in place when these facilities reopen. Guests will be asked to wear face-coverings while in open areas, observe socialdistancing guidelines (maintain a distance of at least six feet from individuals outside of their immediate household) and avoid the hotel or restaurant if they are feeling ill or exhibiting any symptoms of the coronavirus. We are also asking visitors to comply with any travel restrictions or guidelines (including testing and quarantining) put in place by the State of Alaska or North Slope Borough.
For the latest travel mandates and restrictions, check out the North Slope Borough website: http://www.north-slope.org/ For more information on the hotel reopening and to book a room, please visit the Tundra Tours Inc. website at: https://www. tundratoursinc.com/. You can also contact the hotel by calling (907) 852-3900 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.