Accepted Paper:

Alaska native corporations, sustainable livelihoods, and living well  

Author:

Thomas Thornton (University of Oxford)

Paper short abstract:

This paper looks at how re-evaluations of ‚old paradigm‘ natural resource extraction development schemes are playing out among Southeast Alaska Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian people through their regional Sealaska Corporation and its “Values in Action” programme, a new development paradigm which seeks to define a more holistic sense of corporate, community and environmental sustainability based on 4 interrelated Native core values of wellbeing: land, heritage, strength, and balance.

Paper long abstract:

More than 200 Alaska Native Corporations were created as engines of self-determination and economic development as part of the landmark Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, one of the largest peaceful transfers of land (44 million acres) to indigenous peoples in history. It was expected that these new indigenous corporations would combine economic development with sustainable livelihoods to increase wellbeing. However, in the eyes of critics they became stealth neocolonial vehicles for further assimilation of Alaska Native cultures and extraction of their natural resources. At the same, Native corporations have been subject to high expectations for social, cultural and environmental responsibility by their indigenous shareholders, which has resulted in 21st century re-evaluations of ‘old paradigm’ natural resource extraction development schemes among these corporations. This paper looks at how these re-evaluations are playing out among Southeast Alaska Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian people through their regional Sealaska Corporation and its “Values in Action” programme, a new development paradigm which seeks to define a more holistic sense of corporate, community and environmental sustainability based on 4 interrelated Native core values of wellbeing: land, heritage, strength, and balance. The operationalisation of these values into innovative social-economic enterprises is assessed through a case study of the activities of a new corporate subsidiary named for the one of these core ‘living well' values: Haa Aani (Our Land).

Panel P122
Living well together: considering connections of health, wellbeing and work in the lives of humans and other living beings [Humans and Other Living Beings]