Dear fellow shareholders,
I am filled with renewed hope now that the COVID vaccine is available to all Alaskans. I feel a huge sense of relief being fully vaccinated, but by no means do I believe I am 100% protected. While COVID-19 vaccines can protect you from getting sick, scientists are still learning how well vaccines prevent you from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to others. I understand that I still must wear my face covering and continue to practice physical distancing, wash my hand regularly and stay in my bubble! I know many are losing patience with the safety protocols, but we must be vigilant to protect ourselves, our loved ones and those we come into close contact with. If you are unsure about the vaccine, please do all you can to educate yourself. In addition to talking with your health care provider, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) website (https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/) is filled with medical literature.
It has now been over a year since the start of the pandemic, which has affected virtually every facet of our lives. We recognize the pandemic has created enormous stress for many shareholders and we are here to support you. The Board of Directors and the Trustees of Ahtna Hwt’aene (People’s) Trust have declared an early partial 2021 shareholder distribution of $13.00 per share and a distribution of $1,000 per eligible Elder. Distributions are scheduled to be direct deposited and checks mailed on April 28. We hope these early distributions will help to relieve some of the financial burdens being experienced.
The 48th Annual Meeting of Ahtna Shareholders will take place virtually on Saturday, June 5, 2021. Alaska law was recently amended to permit business corporations (including Alaska Native corporations) to hold shareholder meetings by remote communication, therefor the Board of Directors approved holding the meeting virtually. We appreciate your understanding and online participation in this year’s event.
Our Culture Prepared Us has been selected as this year’s theme. For centuries, our Elders have passed on cultural knowledge to younger generations, and these teachings guide our actions today. I hope you will take the time to closely review all the materials in your proxy packet, including the 2020 Annual Report which details Ahtna’s financial performance, business lines, shareholder programs, land initiatives and future economic opportunities.
One of the most important responsibilities of being an Ahtna shareholder is to vote in Ahtna elections and select well-qualified shareholders to serve on the Board of Directors. The Board is responsible for making balanced and informed decisions that are in alignment with the mission and vision of the corporation and the best interests of current and future Ahtna shareholders. Proxy voting will open on April 23 and shareholders will have the option to submit proxies online at
www.ahtnavote.com or by email, fax or mail (see your proxy packet for details). For the best chance at winning a proxy prize, vote online and by the May 7 early bird deadline. You can also attend the meeting via live stream at the e-voting website (www.ahtnavote.com) and vote your ballot on-line; ballot voting will be open during the meeting from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m.
We want to hear your comments, questions and suggestions. To provide feedback and questions, complete and mail back the comment card included with your proxy packet or submit written or video comments or questions at www.ahtna.com/shareholder-comments-and-questions. We will respond during the Annual Meeting to a selection of the submissions received by May 14. Make sure to follow us on Facebook (www.facebook/Ahtna.Inc) and check the website (www.ahtna.com) for the latest meeting updates. I will miss seeing you in-person but look forward to the time we can gather again.
New upgrades were recently made to the MyAhtna Shareholder Portal, including the ability for shareholders to access information for wards, view garnishments and stock wills, and sign up for text alerts from Ahtna. You can find all the details on page 16.
The northern segment of the Copper River Highway (locally known as the O’Brien Creek trail) near Chitina has been reopened for the first time in over a decade. The Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) cleared semi-obstructive landslides last fall, opening up access to the trail. We are anticipating an increase this spring of fishermen and recreationists along the route. The Chitina Joint Task Force, a group representing Chitina Traditional Indian Village Council, Chitina Native Corporation and Ahtna, Incorporated, has collaborated to implement an area management plan that will protect vulnerable cultural resources in the area. You can learn more about this joint effort on page 12.
In January, the Federal Subsistence Board adopted and approved a community harvest system for moose and caribou for the eight villages in the Ahtna region. This system allows the Ahtna Intertribal Resource Commission (AITRC) to manage the community harvest system by registering federally qualified rural residents of the eight Ahtna tribal communities. AITRC will be traveling to the villages this summer to issue hunting permits for federally qualified individuals who wish to participate in this hunt. Watch for flyers and check their website (www.ahtnatribal.org) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/Ahtnatribal) for dates and locations.
March 17, 2021 marked one year since our Anchorage office went virtual. The Glennallen office worked remotely from time to time as did our other office locations outside of Alaska. Our Anchorage Corporate office and other locations continue to effectively work from home. Staff at our Glennallen Headquarters office are back to working from the office, but the building remains closed to the public. Shareholders who need assistance can reach the Glennallen office at (907) 822-3476 and the Anchorage office at (907) 868-8250.
Many of our Ahtna families endured the loss of a loved one in 2020 due to the pandemic or other causes. My heartfelt condolences go out to all the families who have suffered the loss of a loved one. The pandemic’s group gathering restrictions have made it impossible to take part in our traditional ways of honoring our ancestors and paying our respects. In this issue, we explore the history of funeral and memorial potlatches in the Ahtna region. The potlatch is the most visible or outward expression of Ahtna values and an anchor to our past.
Michelle Anderson, President