Board Message: A Unique Kind of Corporation
Willie Kasayulie, Board Chair
Storyknife, September/October 2023 edition
An Indian Tribe, or Tribe, is a sovereign group of Indigenous people who have lived on their homelands since time immemorial. A Tribe is a type of government. Many Tribes are included on a list of Federally Recognized Tribes published by the federal government each year.
Calista works with and advocates for the Tribal Governments serving in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Region.
Many Calista Shareholders are Tribal Citizens and receive important benefits through Tribes or tribal organizations such as healthcare, social services and educational benefits.
However, Calista is a unique kind of corporation. As stated in its charter adopted by our Elders in 1972, Calista’s corporate purpose is “to promote the economic, social and personal well-being of the Natives within the region,” and to “carry out the provisions of ANCSA so as to be eligible on behalf of said Natives for the benefits of ANCSA.”
The benefits of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) include:
- Title to 6.5 million acres of subsurface lands in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Region, including the right to receive royalties from development of these subsurface lands.
- Authority “to provide benefits to shareholders who are Natives or descendants of Natives to promote the health, education, or welfare of such Shareholders,” with the understanding that Shareholders “remain eligible for all Federal Indian programs.”
Consistent with those provisions, Congress has enacted many laws that include ANCSA corporations in the definition of “Indian Tribe” so they can participate in federal programs that provide healthcare, social services and educational benefits to their Shareholders.
One of those laws, the Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA), includes ANCSA corporations in the definition of Tribe. This makes Calista eligible to participate in ISDEAA and other programs for the benefit of our Shareholders.
Congress has enacted many laws that include ANCSA corporations in the definition of “Indian Tribe” so they can participate in federal programs that provide healthcare, social services and educational benefits to their Shareholders.
One example is that Calista contracts with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to survey Calista’s lands. On a larger scale, statewide Indigenous healthcare services at the Alaska Native Medical Center are possible in part because CIRI, an ANCSA corporation, is considered a Tribe for purposes of funding in ISDEAA.
In 2021, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling that confirmed that Calista and the other ANCSA corporations are Tribes for purposes of ISDEAA and numerous other federal Indian laws.