DANSRD congratulates ANS graduate Sharon Hildebrand: by Jenny Bell Jones

DANSRD would like to congratulate ANS graduate Sharon Hildebrand on her election as Vice President of Tanana Chiefs Conference.  Sharon is a 2013 graduate from our program who then continued her education and earned a Master’s of Public Administration from UAS in 2018. She was a stellar student who refused to let numerous challenges prevent her from reaching her educational goals.

Sharon is originally from Nulato but has made Fairbanks her home with her husband and sons where we are lucky to be able to call them neighbors. She is currently employed by Doyon Limited as their Village Outreach Liaison.

She has an exemplary record of public service and leadership and currently serves on the Board of Fairbanks Native Association in addition to her new position with TCC. She has been involved with youth hockey in Fairbanks and has raised her sons to be hard working respectful young men that we can all be proud of. She has been involved with the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District as a curriculum review committee member and she is active with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. She serves on her Village Corporation Board of Directors and as a board member for Get out the Native Vote. She has a passion for singing Denakka songs of Nulato & Kaltag and is a strong advocate for the Indigenous languages. She is active with the Denakkanaaga Elders organization … and these are just the major highlights.

Sharon took the tools that both traditional and western education gave her and used them for the benefit of so many. We wish her all the best and when anyone asks where they might go with an ANS degree I will tell them to look no further than Sharon and do their best to follow in her shoes. She has provided a fine example for all to follow.   

Addressing Alaska Native Corporations and Their Need to Open Enrollment for “New Natives” by Rural Development MA student Jolene Nanouk

Addressing Alaska Native Corporations and Their Need to Open Enrollment for “New Natives”

Adapted from “Case Study of Doyon Limited and Calista

 by Jolene Nanouk DANSRD student

The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) was enacted on December 18, 1971, allowing Alaska Natives born on or before this date with 1/4 blood quantum to be enrolled as shareholders in the village and regional corporations they wished to enroll in (Linxwiler, n.d.).  Twelve regional corporations and just over 200 village corporations were formed because of ANCSA.  Regional corporations own the subsurface rights of the land and village corporations own the surface rights of the land.  Shareholders have the responsibility to keep these Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) sustainable, protect the land and allow their ANCs to be profitable, and provide for their shareholders via electing their Board of Directors to help run these ANCs.

ANCSA is celebrating its 50th anniversary since it was established.  Since then, the 1991 Amendments, which originated as 1991 resolutions that were adopted in March of 1985, allowed individual corporations to open enrollment for those born after the ANCSA enactment (“1991 Amendments – Alaska Federation of Natives Newsletter” 2021). 50 years later, 6 of the 12 regional corporations have opened enrollment for their “New Natives” or “Afterborns”, allowing them to enroll into their regional corporations and become active members of their corporations. The 6 regional ANCs are Ahtna, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, NANA, Doyon Ltd., Sealaska Corporation, and just recently Calista Corporation (Sullivan 2021).  These ANCs have different types of classes of stock issued for enrollment such as life stock, stock for 1/4 or more blood quantum, stock for 1/4 or less blood quantum, lineal descent enrollment, a stock with votes for 18 years of age and older, and even Elder stock. Each ANC is different, and to be honest, it dilutes the value of the existing stock, but by not opening enrollment, it disenfranchises what is our birthright as Alaska Native people to be landowners of our communities and regions. Therefore, it is up to each ANC to decide what type of stock to issue if they choose to open enrollment within each village and regional corporation.  The issue is that there is the remainder of the regional and village corporations who have not opened their enrollment, and how these corporations plan to continue if they only rely on the descendants who have inherited/gifted shares.

The case study I reviewed is two regional corporations: Doyon Limited and Calista Corporation. These two regional corporations have opened enrollment to those born after December 18, 1971. There are similarities and differences regarding the way they opened enrollment and how their companies have shared information with their shareholders. Before I review these corporations, I will go over “wise practices” used in regards to promoting opening enrollment and how these practices should be used to promote this type of community development for the future of Alaska Native Corporations and their stakeholders.

Wise Practices

When the 1987 Amendments were passed, I was attending an Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) Elders and Youth Leadership Conference in Anchorage, Alaska. What struck me, was when a small Inupiat woman named Marie Greene stood in front of all the youth and said very boldly “A Native is a Native is a Native!” Visionaries like Marie KasaNnaaluk Greene were advocating for change. In the Arctic Sounder Newspaper, published on August 8, 2014, it states “NANA Regional Corporation president and CEO KasaNnaaluk Marie N. Greene doesn’t differentiate when it comes to her corporation and her people. They are one and the same.” (Arctic Sounder, 2014). Marie Greene who had advocated for change and seeing everyone as the same regardless of the ANCSA date of enactment sets precedence for others to follow change and it is unlocking grassroots action for change and seeing this change through a different lens like Foucault explains regarding power and leadership and to becoming “self-determining agents that resist and challenge power structures” (“Community Development in Action: Putting Freire into Practice: Ledwith, Margaret.)

Advocates like Marie Greene, voicing concern regarding the issue of leaving out those born after the ANCSA enactment, communicating with others about the issue, raising awareness, advocating for change, including all people to be involved, and bringing up discussions to why it is important for their people, their company and their future are “wise practices” as an example for others to follow. Her regional corporation, NANA, had opened enrollment for those born after the ANCSA enactment.

Case Study

            In order to understand the process of opening enrollment, a letter of intent was sent out to 5 of the regional corporations that had opened enrollment.   Doyon Limited graciously replied and shared with me their wise practices.   One important aspect is communication. Communicating with shareholders, with community members, and with family and friends. The corporation went to the villages, held meetings in the schools or places big enough to meet at, and communicated with all those about the issue of opening enrollment. In addition, they communicated through surveys: surveys were sent to the original shareholders and asked if they would like to open enrollment. Once the shareholders decided on opening enrollment, another survey was sent out to decide what type of shares should be distributed. Listed below are the types of shares Doyon Ltd. chose to do based on the surveys and communicating with their shareholders. They also did videos to inform the shareholders and had many special newsletters sent out regarding enrollment. The major role players participating in the discussions were the board of directors and youth advisors regarding this issue.

Within the Doyon website, access to videos on their portal includes videos that their shareholders voiced on “what it means to be a shareholder” as well as an informative video regarding questions on records and class stock. Class C stock is available for children who are descendants of original shareholders of Doyon Class A, B, C, or D shareholder, ¼ or more Alaska Native blood quantum, born after December 18, 1971, and not enrolled into any other regional corporation, Arctic Village, Venetie or Metlakatla. Doyon Limited’s website is very informative for their shareholders and makes accessibility to knowing what is happening for their shareholders and very transparent in how they run their business. (“Records & Stocks – Doyon, Limited” 2019).

Calista Corporation has recently opened their enrollment to their descendants, using the use of life estate stock meaning that the stock/shares would go back to the corporation once the shareholders pass away.  One thing Calista chose to do is have the open enrollment as lineal descent rather than requiring their descendants to be ¼ Alaskan Native blood quantum. The Calista Corporation went from 14,000 Class A or B shareholders to an additional 12,000 Class C and D shareholders, with maybe another 17,000 who have missed enrollment. The voting on adding the descendants into their corporation was passed in 2015, but it took until 2017 to enroll the additional 12,000 Class C or D shareholders. The process of opening enrollment given this information provided by Calista sounds like it takes time with the process of communication, being transparent, using surveys, understanding what the original shareholders want, and implementing what they would like to do.

Calista’s website for their shareholders is also very informative, using videos and a welcome packet pdf that can also be viewed online. Within the welcome packet, the information given in these categories includes: 

  • Shareholder Benefits: Shareholder Hire Preference, Job Opportunities, Talent Bank, Dividends, Scholarships, Burial Assistance.
  • Shareholder Rights: Elect Directors to the Calista board, Run for A Seat on the Board of Directors, Shareholder Resolutions, Amend Bylaws, Review Records, Be Informed.
  • Shareholder Responsibilities: Be Engaged, Voting Your Proxy, Helping Calista Meet Quorum, Keeping your information up to date, Completing a Stock Will or Beneficiary Designation form.
  •  Access to Resources: Shareholder Web Portal, Contact Information. (“Welcome New Shareholders – Calista Corporation” 2020).

Wise practices that utilize resources available to your shareholders, using communication whether through technology, verbally holding meetings to provide information and feedback,  surveys, videos, newsletters, and in-person through email or at the buildings provided are excellent ways to reach out to others. Communication, transparency, advertisements, being informative, educating others, working together, thinking ahead, and being accessible and accountable for the action of the company is important for the community development of these two corporations.  These tools of “wise practices” and examples that these two regional corporations have can be used to help the ANCs that have not opened enrollment, and allow the ANCs to move forward if they are considering it. 


            Who will benefit from this knowledge of wise practices for open enrollment in ANCs that have not opened enrollment? The question answers itself, everyone and every ANC  that has not opened enrollment. All ANCs need to continue to advertise, communicate, be transparent, use newsletters, hold special meetings, post videos, blogs, and surveys to find out what the shareholders foresee in the future of their corporations. By using these types of wise practices, the ANCs can find out whether or not their shareholders would like to open enrollment, and if they do, they can figure out what type of stocks they would prefer to have: life estate stock, a stock that is open to those turning 18 or not, a stock with or without voting rights based on age, stock restrictions based on blood quantum or lineal descent, and then restrictions of those who can and cannot apply (such as whether or not they are already enrolled in and received stock from a different ANC). Although these wise practices cannot solve the issue of opening enrollment, it is a start for ANCs to consider. The use of these wise practices can help the ANCs interested in opening enrollment, and help give ideas of what each ANC should consider regarding the process and options that the shareholders have to decide on if they chose to move forward.

The real question is understanding whether or not the original shareholders understand that the continuation of gifting and willing shares can cause dwindling of stock, unfairness that not all descendants would become shareholders, and how the future of the ANC would look another 50 years from now if they continue to push aside not opening new stock for all those born after the ANCSA enactment. The concern is not just for the rest of the regional corporations that have not opened enrollment; it is also for the village corporations who may or may not be barely hanging on, based on how well they are making it after 50 years. The concern of protecting the land base in the villages, the future of our people, and where they are living. This whole issue has so many concerns not just on the business side of community development, but how our people are “one and the same,” as Marie Greene stated, and deserve to be treated equally and be able to voice their concerns regarding the ANCs. The ¼ blood quantum issue is also concerning, and lineal descent can be an answer, but it all depends on the current shareholders and what they feel about whether or not to enroll them, and if so, does it matter if you are ⅕ Alaska Native or 24%, Alaskan Native, to qualify for enrollment. We all come from the same ancestors, we live on the same land, and we should be qualified to take care of the land and its resources like our ancestors once did and for what our leaders fought for 50 years ago. We need a mindset like Marie Greene, where “a Native is a Native is a Native”, and be willing to think ahead together as one.                

 Please consider those who may not have had inherited shares, because all the shares might have been willed to one person and not equally distributed amongst family members.  Also, the gifting of original shares dwindles and over time, becomes barely anything.  A solution to this problem is to open enrollment for those who were born after the ANCSA enactment and to include everyone. The future generations’ blood quantum will continue to get smaller as time passes, and the process of allowing kinship and lineal descent as a qualification rather than blood quantum should be considered.

In conclusion, all ANCs will have a tool of past open enrollment ANCs to look upon, especially for the village ANCs which I am concerned about. Identifying what would work best for each ANC, observing and using what current ANCs have done, and understanding that the future of the ANCs depends on these future descendants and the work put into advocating for our land rights based on why ANCSA was passed would not have been done for nothing, because all the descendants and our future will be able to continue to take care of our lands and continue to run these ANCs for the betterment of our people. This truly is why all ANCs should be opening enrollment. 

Acknowledging the future of the ANC, acknowledging the future generations and their responsibilities need to be addressed now by allowing the ANCs to incorporate new shares for those being left out. We need to become whole again as a people, and this is just one step in addressing this issue. Now is the time that we can work towards a healthier future for our ANCs, our land, and our people.


Alaska Newspapers, Inc. 2014. “Greene to Retire after 13 Years at Helm of NANA.” Thearcticsounder.com. 2014. http://www.thearcticsounder.com/article/1432greene_to_retire_after_13_years_at_helm_of.

“Community Development in Action: Putting Freire into Practice: Ledwith, Margaret.

Linxwiler, James. n.d. “THE ALASKA NATIVE CLAIMS SETTLEMENT ACT: THE FIRST TWENTY YEARS.” Accessed October 23, 2021. https://ancsa.lbblawyers.com/wp-content/ uploads/ANCSA-Paper-with-Table-of-Contents-1992.pdf.

“1991 Amendments – Alaska Federation of Natives Newsletter.” 2021. Alaskool.org. 2021. http://www.alaskool.org/projects/ancsa/articles/afn_newsletters/afn_newsletter.htm.

“Records & Stocks – Doyon, Limited.” 2019. Doyon.com. 2019. https://www.doyon.com/shareholders/records/.

Sullivan, Meghan. 2021. “ANCSA@50: The Next Generation of Alaska Native Shareholders.” Indian Country Today. Indian Country Today. July 26, 2021. https:// indiancountrytoday.com/news/ancsa-50-the-next-generation-of-alaska-native- shareholders.

‌“Welcome New Shareholders – Calista Corporation.” 2020. Calista Corporation. January 16, 2020. https://www.calistacorp.com/welcome-calista-corp-shareholders/.

DANSRD Graduate Continues to Lead

Barbara ‘Wáahlaal Gíidaak Blake

DANSRD would like to congratulate former faculty member Barbara ‘Wáahlaal Gíidaak Blake on her successful bid for a seat on the Juneau Assembly. Barbara is a graduate of the RD MA (2013) and BA programs and taught for DANSRD 2013 through 2014. ‘Wáahlaal Gíidaak is of Haida, Tlingit and Ahtna Athabascan descent and belongs to the Káat nay-st/Yahkw ’Láanaas (Shark House/Middle Town People) Clan.  She is the daughter of Sandra Demmert (Yahkw Jáanaas) and Kenneth Johnson (Naltsiina), and the granddaughter of Frances Demmert Peele (Yahkw Jáanaas), Franklin Demmert, Sr. (Teeyeeneidi), Irene Johnson (Naltsiina)  Walter Johnson (Norwegian), and mother to two amazing kids.  She currently serves as the Director of the Alaska Native Policy Center with First Alaskans Institute, where she promotes the self-determination of Alaska Native peoples through strengthening opportunities for indigenous voices to be at the forefront of leading, solving, confronting, and advocating for Indigenous communities. She will be a strong voice for equity and justice for all on the Assembly.

We are very proud of her achievements and hope that other RD and ANS graduates will follow in her footsteps to provide strong leadership for Alaska.

RD BA graduate Nicholes on how DANSRD prepared him for international graduate school success

At the end of Spring 2022, I will submit my graduate thesis on social movements and cultural trauma as part of the Human Security Master’s Program at Aarhus University in Denmark. Five years ago, I could not have imagined myself nearing the completion of a graduate degree or even the type of person applying to doctoral programs. Academia, in general, was outside anything I could really have imagined. All of this taken into consideration — I can only give gratitude for what feels like an endless number of people willing to put in the effort supporting me throughout my academic career. A significant amount of that effort rests with the excellent faculty and staff at the Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development.

Nicholes (back row, second from the right) with DANSRD faculty, staff, and fellow graduates, May 2019.

I first began my studies in the Rural Development Bachelor of Arts program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 2017, leaving my home in Seattle and heading north to Alaska. I was nervous and excited about my transition to Alaska as anyone will be when taking the leap to somewhere new. I should not have worried in the least however, as the support I received from my professors and staff was fantastic from day one. All my needs as I settled into my new home were met without issue and the university environment was undoubtedly one of the most welcoming I had ever experienced. Once my studies began, I found that the topics covered were comprehensive in scope and intensive in their depth. The Rural Development program covered topics ranging from law, public policy, project development, environmental crises, history, ethics, business planning, and human development theory.

Following my UAF graduation, I applied and was accepted into Aarhus University in 2020. One more move taking me further and farther than I had been on my own. Surprisingly, I found little to no issues adapting to postgraduate education. My Rural Development degree had prepared me. Frankly, I should have realized that fact from the first class I ever took at UAF, Rural Alaska Land Issues. I still remember the first day and walking into Professor Kathleen Meckel’s class — Not only one of the most welcoming professors I ever had the opportunity to meet, but also an excellent guide into what would be an entire semester covering Alaskan land laws and policy. There was never a separation between what I studied and how it impacted Alaska, which helped me develop a skill set used throughout my master’s program today — particularly in research.

Moesgaard Campus (MOCA) where the Anthropology, Human Security, Archaeology and Sustainable Heritage Management Programs are held at Aarhus University.

On the practical side, I also learned various skills essential to anyone’s academic career. I learned how to produce written work and deliverables at the postgraduate level. More than that, I was given a practical education on project design, presentation, grant writing, and research development that I had never learned outside of university. When diving into our final semester, I received in-depth support on developing a thesis and research methods while covering criticism and theoretical developments in research methodology.  At the end of the program, I felt more than capable of discussing theory with my professors, covering figures like Amartya Sen and Paulo Freire, depopulation theory, and many others. I also found myself throughout the program learning through discussions with my classmates and peers as the diverse cohort I studied with all had experiences reached outside the classroom. Even though my studies in the master’s program have shifted their focus outside of the Alaskan context, I still find my research revolving around many of the same topics I studied in the Rural Development program. Issues of inequality, ecological crises, food scarcity, public policy, and law are not only limited to Alaska. Additionally, the focus in Alaska didn’t restrict me in the least; Instead, it allowed me to delve deeper into the topics at hand around real issues felt in the region. Ultimately, as a master’s student, research and my thesis are the final goals; I would have been on a less sure path if not for the Rural Development program and everyone involved.

Rooftop view of Aarhus, Denmark.

DANSRD students at the 2018 Alaska Native Studies Conference

DANSRD students from my class RD 475 Senior Project, Eric Petersen, Pamela Murphy, and Debbie Demientieff, presented on their senior projects at the Alaska Native Studies Conference in Juneau April 14-15. The students did a great job and got feedback and questions throughout the conference about their projects, already making a difference through their scholarship!

Eric Petersen: Alaska Native Child Adoption      

Alaska Native Child Adoption Alaska Native children have been adopted out from their biological families, communities, and cultures for decades creating generations of Alaska Natives disconnected from their cultures. While there has been significant progress made since 1978 when the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was enacted there are still issues that need to be resolved. One significant problem is that biological fathers that are not on the pre-adoption birth certificate are unable to put their name on the child’s birth certificate after the adoption is finalized. This causes a void in the child’s connection to their culture as well as impacting possible benefits from increased blood quantum. This project explores this issue and suggests possible solutions to solve the problem.

Pamela Murphy: Sustainable Education Delivery Plan

The Bristol Bay Campus faces the burning question of how to get post-secondary, relevant, education to remote locations in rural Alaska for all its 42 communities in a way that is sustainable over time. Within the Bristol Bay Region there is a high priority for quality education to prepare youth with skills to succeed in college or vocational schools. Title III funding was recently awarded to the Bristol Bay Campus to develop sustainable programs for Dillingham and its outlining service area to accomplish this vision. The purpose of this project is to establish a Sustainable Delivery Education plan, starting with the mobile welding lab pilot project. This mobile welding lab will feature covered welding stations in a shipping container and start off in the community of St. Paul, Alaska.

Debbie Demientieff: Portraits of Resilience: Celebrating Who We Are

Our traditional value of taking care of our people is essential to this project. Traditionally people have natural role models that exemplify a good way of being, a good way of living. These role models or mentors were naturally known as tribes lived close in kinship and as a community. Now, in a world where families live apart from their tribal lands and their community it is important to share the success of Alaska Native people. People who are living a good life must be uplifted and serve as a good story for others to gain their own understanding of what they themselves are capable of achieving as Alaska Native people. Today, it is important to identify these leaders and role models so that others who may never get to meet them personally are able to learn from their experiences through their stories. This project explores the use of oral history as a means of documenting and sharing Alaska Native achievement and success as a guide for others to excel and reach their own personal level of success. They will be able to look at the experiences of successful people and know that they too can make the effort to realize their own goals.

I am so proud of these students!

“‘Strengthening Sovereign Responses to Sex Trafficking Conference’ and Our Alaska Native Community” a guest post by Rural Development MA student Cordelia Kellie

Over 300 people gathered January 30-31 in Palm Springs, California to convene at the first annual Strengthening Sovereign Responses to Sex Trafficking in Indian Country conference, on the traditional land of the Agua Caliente peoples. Alaska Native and American Indian community and tribal representatives met with federal agencies, advocates, survivors, sexual assault experts and other national and federal partners from across Native nations, including Alaska.

The organization hosting was the Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition (MIWSAC), which shared the story about how years ago, they started hearing anecdotes of sex trafficking in their state; they collected those stories and it became the basis of their research into the topic published in Garden of Truth (2011). Now MIWSAC is one of the leading Native organizations working to end sex trafficking. Also known as human trafficking or modern slavery, sex trafficking is the use of force, coercion, or manipulation for commercial sexual exploitation. Traffickers target a community’s most vulnerable and there are a variety of areas of susceptibility.

When we think of labels, we self-organize conceptually. We put people and things in boxes. We organize the state in our mind as those who are sex trafficked and those who are not sex trafficked, with all our friends, family and acquaintances — seemingly everyone we know — being the latter.

Sex traffickers don’t think that way; they don’t see someone in the box of “not trafficked’, and decide not to touch them. All they see is vulnerability, and too many of our Alaska Native and rural community members are the target.

Is there anyone who might come to mind that you know who may lack a social safety net? Someone under duress from economic hardship? What about someone emotionally vulnerable, suffering from low self-esteem and self-worth, or someone who just needs to get by and has suffered from abuse before? One of the informational focuses of the conference is being able to see the shades of trafficking, and breaking down those conceptual boxes.

Because in those terms, names may come to mind. In these scenarios, those who find themselves, for example, intimidated into performing a sex act so they have a place to stay also might not think of themselves using the term “trafficked,’ but they are. Maybe some think their trafficker is their boyfriend or girlfriend; their trafficker could be a family member. The lack of awareness about sex trafficking in our state is such that many might not be able to identify themselves as being trafficked, or even what that is, or may not be in a position to connect to resources. People often just call it, “the life.’

At the conference, advocates, service providers, government and law enforcement officials and many more were able to learn about the most pressing needs to prevent trafficking and how to support survivors, hearing from survivors themselves. One survivor shared that she honestly didn’t think she was trafficked, she just thought that it was just her way of surviving and having a measure of control.

A representative from Covenant House Alaska spoke at a plenary session about how specifically Alaska Native girls get lured to the city with the promise of a living situation and a job, to find out that it’s not what they thought it would be. Sometimes girls in “the life’ might recruit other girls, like cousins or friends. Some might even find it to be of equal challenges to the struggles faced in their home communities.

But just as the issue was shared and discussed by national experts working in this field, so were solutions.

We know that indigenous women have been sexually exploited on this continent for hundreds of years, as a way to break down Native social structures and institute patriarchy. Modern sex trafficking is a symptom of colonization, and protecting and growing a strong social fabric is part of the work of decolonization. Every community member has a role in being a strong advocate to those in our sphere, and we all have a role in reweaving that social fabric where it is ripped, weak, torn or frayed.

There is a very real need for resources for safe housing, shelters and spaces in our communities so that people wanting to escape a bad situation are able to do so. There is a need for awareness for what our cousins are doing, what our nieces’ lives look like, or if our friends are truly okay. And there needs to be education in our industries and in transportation, of what to look for and what to do if someone suspects a person is being trafficked.

They say in Alaska that everyone knows everyone. If you’re Native, you’re doubly all related.

That goes for Alaska’s most vulnerable, because they are our family members. Ending sex trafficking in Alaska — it is on all of us to be good relatives.