How can AFN be the voice of Natives when its officers are not elected?

Imagine if the U.S. Senate was made up of major corporate chief executive officers and the House of Representatives were board members from smaller corporations. Imagine if our president was chosen by those CEOs. Let's go further and say that corporations supply our scholarships, health care and paychecks. Imagine having a corporation identity card in your wallet. If you understand what I am writing, then you must be Alaska Native.

The Alaska Federation of Natives is made up of board members who are chosen because they are CEOs of regional corporations, no vote by the people. Then these CEOs choose the AFN president, again no vote by the people. The AFN delegates from around the state have been elected to their boards by corporate shareholders only, no vote by the people. How can corporations be the voice of Alaska Natives? Is this democracy?

Native corporations will have their 33rd birthday this month. This summer was my 32nd birthday. The congressional act that created these corporations failed to take into account future generations and our growing population. My father and his generation successfully segregated his children born after December 1971. Currently, my generation has children, a second degree of separation from the president of AFN, its board and the Alaska Native corporate oligarchy. I forgive you, father.

---- Ryan Olson

Letter to the Editor - Anchorage Daily News - December 2004
Anchorage Daily News articles used with permission of the publisher, for educational purposes only.