Sealaska Corp. announced it will no longer require a blood quantum for people of Alaskan Native descent to become a shareholder. (Michael S. Lockett/ Juneau Empire)

Sealaska Corp drops blood quantum requirement

The decision opens the door to approximately 15,000 people to enroll

Thousands of additional people are now eligible to be Sealaska Corp. shareholders following a recent vote.

After a 57%-40% vote by its shareholders, the Sealaska Corp. announced it will extend shareholder eligibility to people of Alaska Native lineal descendants without requiring proof of a one-quarter Alaska Native blood quantum, a previous requirement to be a shareholder.

Now, the newly invited descendants are able to enroll as Class D (Descendants) shareholders, which was enacted immediately after the announcement was made on Saturday. The decision follows companies like Calista and Arctic Slope Regional Corporation who had already dropped their once required one-quarter blood quantum documentation in order to be a shareholder.

The modification still requires applicants to provide proof of their lineage but eliminates the need for a blood quantum to qualify. The decision was a necessary step to continue the future of the shares through each generation, said Sealaska Board Chair Joe Nelson.

“Blood quantum really only goes in one direction. As we look to the past, we also look to the future,” he said. “We have values that keep us looking toward our ancestors, but at the same time we’re also looking forward.”

Nelson said the decision is really more of a modification to the already existing resolution voted on in 2007. That resolution allowed descendants of original shareholders to enroll, but still required a one-quarter blood quantum and applicants had to be born after 1971.

Nelson said that even though there could be as many as approximately 15,000 people who will be able to enroll as shareholders because of this decision, that likely won’t be the case. He thinks it will be similar to the number of people who enrolled in 2007, which was less than estimated and took place over an extended period.

“Over the next 10 years, maybe only half of those people will enroll. There is a difference between who can enroll, and those who actually do enroll,” he said.

Although there was a divided opinion among the 23,000 shareholders of Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian descent on whether the decision should have been passed, Nelson said he believes many people are excited to be able to pass their shares down to the future generations. And, it also serves as a chance for the company to be more inclusive.

“I think many of us are excited to open the door to our grandkids —to all our grandkids, not just some of them,” he said. “The company is tied to a specific place, and we firmly believe that our grandparents would have wanted to open the door for our grandkids.”

However, some shareholders do not agree.

“We’ll be on the outside looking in,” said Edith McHenry, an elder and shareholder. She said that the recent decision will negatively affect current shareholders and she is disheartened by the decision.

McHenry, who worked for Sealaska from 1980 to 1999, said the company was not straightforward with her and many of the elders she knows about the extension of eligibility and believes many current shareholders do not agree with the decision.

“We gave a little, and now they want the whole enchilada,” McHenry said. “I think the original intended beneficiaries, people who are one quarter or more, are going to become a minority within their own corperation. The ones who are primarily going to be impacted by this are elders.”

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or at (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of July 6

Here’s what to expect this week.

Disney Williams (right) orders coffee from Lorelai Bingham from the Flying Squirrel coffee stand at Juneau International Airport on Thursday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
New coffee stand at airport stirs up heated dispute about having proper authorization to operate

Fans of Flying Squirrel Espresso praise location, hours; officials say FAA violations could be costly.

Nano Brooks and Emily Mesch file for candidacy on Friday at the City and Borough of Juneau Municipal Clerk’s office in City Hall. (Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire)
City and Borough of Juneau regular municipal election candidate filing period opens

So far, most vie for Assembly District 2 seat — mayor, Board of Education, and District 1 also open.

Killah Priest performs at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center in December 2019. (Photo courtesy of Lance Mitchell)
Killah Priest sets new record with Alaskan artists on ‘Killah Borealis’

Wu-Tang Clan rapper seeks to lift Alaskan voices and culture in his return performance to Juneau

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, July 10, 2024

For Wednesday, July 10 Attempt to Serve At 10:06 a.m. on Wednesday,… Continue reading

Commercial fishing boats are lined up at the dock at Seward’s harbor on June 22. Federal grants totaling a bit over $5 million have been awarded to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute to help Alaskans sell more fish to more diverse groups of consumers. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Federal grants to state agency aim to expand markets for Alaska seafood

More than $5M to help ASMI comes after Gov. Dunleavy vetoed $10M for agency.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy holds up the omnibus crime bill, House Bill 66, after signing it at a ceremony Thursday at the Department of Public Safety’s aircraft hangar at Lake Hood in Anchorage. At his side are Sandy Snodgrass, whose 22-year-old son died in 2021 from a fentanyl overdose, and Angela Harris, who was stabbed in 2022 by a mentally disturbed man at the public library in Anchorage and injured so badly that she now uses a wheelchair. Snodgrass and Harris advocated for provisions in the bill.Behind them are legislators, law enforcement officers and others. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Goals for new Alaska crime law range from harsher penalties for drug dealers to reducing recidivism

Some celebrate major progress on state’s thorniest crime issues while others criticize the methods.

Juneau Board of Education President Deedie Sorensen (left) and Vice President Emil Mackey, holding his son Emil Mackey IV, listen to discussion about next year’s budget for the school district during a meeting March 14 at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. Recall votes for both board members were certified this week for the Oct. 1 municipal election ballot. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Petitions to recall two Juneau school board leaders get enough signatures for Oct. 1 election ballot

President Deedie Sorensen, Vice President Emil Mackey targeted due to school district’s budget crisis.

Most Read