Dear fellow shareholders,
Happy new year! 2020 was unlike anything we could have expected, but as we closed out the year we had much to be thankful for. We enter 2021 with gratitude and hope for brighter days ahead.
At the top of our gratitude list is being able to assist our shareholders during a challenging economic time. The diversification of our business operations and dedication of our Board of Directors and staff allowed us to weather 2020’s unforeseen impacts. Three dividend distributions were made in 2020, and the Elder distribution was increased by $500 for each eligible Elder. The regular distribution paid out in November was the second highest per share in the history of Ahtna.
Each Ahtna department and subsidiary company has been busy the last several months finalizing their strategic plans and budgets, all of which fit into the greater picture of sustaining our corporate success and growth while providing value to shareholders. It is always an intense and time-consuming process, but these efforts ensure we are prepared for what lies ahead.
Ahtna was a sponsor of the virtual Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) Convention. The annual event draws thousands of official delegates and participants from member organizations across the state. We weren’t able to have an exhibit space or reception at the conference, but we did share a glimpse into the beauty of the Ahtna region, people and culture through a video that debuted at the event. We worked with the Copper River Native Association, Copper Basin Regional Housing Authority and Mt. Sanford Tribal Consortium to produce the regional focus video which can be viewed at www.vimeo.com/467422750.
The regional video touches on the forced removal of Ahtna people from Dry Creek and Gulkana Village during Alaska’s development. After nearly 50 years, the Gulkana Village Council reached resolution with the State of Alaska on the return of their former Village lands and sacred burial grounds. Alaska Governor Dunleavy visited Gulkana on October 13th for the deed signing and groundbreaking ceremony for a new parking lot. Over many decades, people have trespassed through the Village’s sacred burial grounds to gain access to the Gulkana River, desecrating grave sites. The State of Alaska is committed to working with the Gulkana Village Council to protect the grave sites and install appropriate educational signage, so visitors understand the cultural significance of the area. Thank you to Governor Dunleavy and his staff for helping to close a very painful chapter for the Ahtna people.
Our Land Department worked hard to complete seasonal projects in 2020, and things are not slowing down this winter. They have taken on new initiatives to responsibly manage and sustain Ahtna’s wildlife and forest resources and are increasing shareholder access to Ahtna lands for traditional and recreational use. Click here for more details.
We are excited to share some of the success stories of Ahtna’s HOPE (Helping Our People Excel) Program. The program was launched in 2019 to train and employ shareholders. The investment in our people and their ability to secure full-time employment is a priority. Thanks to the vision of our Board of Directors, support from our leadership team, enthusiasm of our Shareholder Enrichment department, and drive of the program participants, we have many success stories to share. It is inspiring to read the personal experiences of program participants in the article located here. If you are looking for employment assistance, please reach out to our Shareholder Advocates, Tracy Parent (Anchorage) or Starr Knighten (Glennallen).
Congratulations to our 2020 Ahtna Employees of the Year! These employees were nominated by their leadership teams for this special recognition. Along with my deepest appreciation to the entire Ahtna team, I want to especially recognize these Ahtna employees who stand out for their hard work, commitment to the Ahtna mission, and dedication to our shareholders.
2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). ANCSA was the largest land claims settlement in United States history. Many of Ahtna’s leaders were instrumental in advancing ANCSA, and we will be celebrating the milestone and their contributions throughout the year.
Thank you to the over 475 shareholders who took the time to complete our 2020 Ahtna Shareholder Survey. We appreciate the valuable input we received and will continue to offer opportunities for shareholder involvement and feedback.
Please stay safe & healthy, and best wishes in 2021!
Michelle Anderson, President