Three Alaska Native regional corporations whose business interests and lands would be affected by the expansion of oil and gas and shipping activities in the Arctic have come together in a formal partnership to ensure they benefit from development in the region.
Arctic Slope Regional Corp., NANA Regional Corp. and Bering Straits Native Corp., all of whose lands are within or near the Arctic Circle, announced on Thursday the creation of the Inuit Arctic Business Alliance.
"With things developing so quickly in the Arctic and the need to respond to that in a coherent organized manner, it just made sense for the three corporations that lie on the Arctic coast to come together," said Matt Ganley, spokesman for the Bering Straits Native Corp.
The alliance will work at the state and national levels "to make sure that whatever does develop in the Arctic benefits communities in the Arctic," Ganley said.
He said the alliance has no plans to apply for permanent participant status on the Arctic Council, the international forum originally established for Arctic nations and indigenous communities in the region.
The alliance board, headed by ASRC president and CEO Rex Rock, is comprised of three representatives from each corporation. It held its second meeting in Barrow this week and plans to meet again in Nome sometime next year.
"The alliance brings more authority to any specific stance we take on certain issues," Ganley said. "It also presents to companies and government agencies a more unified perspective."
The corporations were among those formed under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 to resolve aboriginal land claims. Together, they represent more than 30,000 Alaska Native shareholders, although not all shareholders hold the same typically pro-development views of the corporations themselves.
Ganley said the impacts and economic benefits of development could be different in each region.
"This is a way to bring the three regions together to discuss what's important and vital to them and determine what projects and issues they can work together on," Ganley said.