President’s Message – Preparations Being Made for Annual Meeting

Published April 2018

michelle andersonStaff is busy preparing for the 45th Annual Shareholders Meeting which is scheduled for June 2nd in Glennallen. This year we have implemented householding for our annual meeting mailing, meaning each shareholder household will receive only one hard copy packet containing the Annual Report, Proxy Statement, Annual Meeting Agenda and Door Prizes list. This change was made as a cost saving measure and to help reduce our environmental impact. In order to give you the opportunity to receive as much information as possible before marking your vote, the Board has decided to hold proxies until a week after the household packets go out. We will mail out the Proxy Forms and Voting PIN Letters to individual shareholders on April 27 and online voting will open that day as well. You will need your login and PIN information to vote online, as well as be able to view the online Annual Meeting broadcast, so it’s important to keep in a safe place until after the meeting.

Another change this year is that in lieu of in-person Candidate Informational Meetings, we will be posting brief candidate profile videos on the Ahtna website for viewing. We have seen a low turnout in recent years for our Candidate Informational Meetings and an increasing demand for materials to be made available online for viewing. The online candidate videos will be accessible to a greater percentage of our shareholder population and provide a convenient way to learn more about who is running for seats this year. It’s important to note that profile video filming was made available to all candidates, but participation was not mandatory.

We are currently working with a publisher to release the Ahtna History Book at this year’s annual meeting. We intend to make the book available as a gift to shareholders so that everyone can enjoy and learn from the vibrant history and stories of those that came before us. The book is aptly titled netseh dae’ tkughit’e’ which translates to, “Before us, it was like this.” We must remember the ways and words of those that came before us and preservation of these ancient teachings help to sustain our culture for future generations. Our deepest appreciation is owed to Ahtna historian Dr. Bill Simeone who authored the book and whose care and respect for our people is evident throughout its pages. Two elders participated regularly in the book committee meetings and readings; Chairman Nick Jackson and the late Roy S. Ewan. This type of project needs elder participation. We are deeply grateful to these gentlemen for the time they dedicated to insuring we got things right and history was shared in a respectful, honorable way.

Our communities have suffered some heartbreaking losses this year, including our beloved Ahtna elder, advocate and past President, Roy S. Ewan. Roy lived a life of enduring service to the Ahtna people. Roy was a generous leader. He encouraged the next generation of leaders. He invited them to learn from him, to ask him questions, to learn about the land, to walk the land with him. He taught by example, by dress, by greeting, by the sharing of books and his own professional and personal experience. We were blessed with his strong and humble leadership. Our condolences to the Ewan family and to all families who have suffered the loss of a loved one. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

This issue includes an article on the importance of completing a Testamentary Disposition so that you are in control of who receives your shares when you pass. Planning for the future can be emotionally difficult for our people culturally, but making sure you have the proper paperwork on file in advance allows others to carry out your wishes more efficiently preventing lengthy delays for your loved ones. Please take the time to complete this brief form and contact Shareholder Services if you have questions or need help filling it out correctly.

Ahtna, Inc. has been in a challenging position with regard to the case brought by John Sturgeon against the Department of Interior. The case concerned Mr. Sturgeon’s use of a hovercraft on the Nation’s River in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. The National Park Service prohibits hovercraft, but the State of Alaska permits them. From our perspective, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) that established Alaska’s national parks prohibited the Park Service from regulating our lands, and its attempt to regulate Mr. Sturgeon’s conduct runs afoul of that prohibition. On the other hand, it is clear that the Federal Government has the right to manage subsistence fishing. That was the holding of the Katie John cases, and it is fundamental to the protection of fishing rights in Alaska. Ahtna strongly supports taking actions to protect the Katie John decisions and the rights they protected. We have engaged with the State of Alaska, the National Park Service, Mr. Sturgeon, and our Federal Congressional delegation to seek a legislative fix. We are very hopeful that a fix will be forthcoming, and we will have something positive to report at the Annual Meeting.

We have shared a summary of the results from our 2017 Ahtna Shareholder Survey. Over 400 shareholders completed the survey in-person, over the phone and online. We appreciate the valuable input we received and will continue to offer opportunities for shareholder involvement and feedback.

Tsin’aen,

Michelle Anderson, President
Ahtna, Incorporated