O'Harrow blatantly states in his article, Promises Unmet, that the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) promises remain unfilled. The problem with his under researched statement is that Congress is fulfilling the promise given to Alaska Natives by allowing them to participate in the Native 8(a) Program without bias or prejudice against them.
Congress promised Alaska Natives economic development opportunities in exchange for their millions of acres of oil-rich land, which was the Alaska Native's legal indigenous and historic land. Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) have not asked for a hand-out from the government - but through the Native 8(a) Program have participated in the hand-up from Congress that was rightfully offered, and graciously taken. This is called fulfilling the ANCSA promise.
Through ANCSA, Congress mandated Alaska Natives to form corporations to protect their indigenous lands and to provide economic benefits and opportunities to their Native shareholders. Think about it for a minute -- Most businesses or groups find a business they want to do and then incorporate. Alaska Natives were forced to incorporate and then go find a business. If the Alaska Native owned businesses goes bust then their indigenous sacred land is lost forever.
A PROMISE THAT IS A WORK-IN-PROGRESS
Remember, Alaska's indigenous people gave up trillions of dollars worth of land and resources for what they STILL BELIEVE is legislation that will be honored from Congress without bias or prejudice. The Native 8(a) Program is the missing piece of Congresses ANCSA fulfillment.
Alaskans live in a remote location. They don't have casino privileges as do Lower '48 Natives. Participation in the Native 8(a) Program was the solution to fulfill the ANCSA promise from Congress for this historically underprivileged group of people.
- Are Alaska Native individuals rich from government contracting? No.
- Are many Alaska Native's quality of life improved from educational benefits, job opportunities, dividends and cultural revitalization funding from ANC profits? Yes.
- Are their children going to college with scholarship benefits provided from contracting revenues? Yes.
- Will there be more native employee's at ANCs with each new generation after they benefit from training, education and development from business profits? Yes.
- Are the majority of ANCs doing a excellent job in their line of business - government contracting? Yes.
- So what's the problem? Nadda
- Many Alaska Native Corporations excel at the government contracting business and receive rave reviews from the government.
- As Native American Contractors Association (NACA) rightfully point out: "ANCs must submit a comprehensive proposal showing commensurate qualifications, past performance and the infrastructure required to successfully complete each contract award."
- For a comprehensive list of facts visit: http://www.native8aworks.com/the_facts/.
This article represents the sole opinion of the author, Brenda Dukart.