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Bering Straits Native Corp Holds Annual Meeting in Nome, Prepares $500 Elders Dividend

Heather Jackson (left) and Nick Hanson will receive Bering Straits Native Corporation's Young Providers Award. Photos: Sophia Katchatag (of Jackson), Brett Hanson (of Hanson).

Bering Straits Native Corporation shareholders can look forward to an eventful weekend, as BSNC holds its annual shareholders meeting in Nome on Saturday and prepares to payout a $500 elders dividend.

Ahead of the meeting, the BSNC board of directors last month declared a dividend of $3.25 per share. “The average Bering Straits shareholder owns 100 shares of stock,” BSNC communications director Miriam Aarons said, which means an average dividend of $325.

In all the payout to shareholders is over about $2,058,225 to more than 7,100 eligible shareholders. This year the dividend it equal to what was distributed to shareholders last December.

Senior shareholders will also be getting an extra $500 “elders dividend,” similar to a one-time $500 special dividend issued last February to BSNC elders.

“There are some restrictions,” Aarons pointed out. “Shareholders must be original enrollees and they have to be 65 years of age or older on Nov. 10, which was the day of record.”

Beyond dividends, the weekend meeting is where shareholders will select five new board members from among 14 candidates. The five candidates with the most votes will get the open seats for a 3-year term.

Five of those running are incumbents who have sat on the board before: Jason Evans, Neal Foster, Steve Ivanoff, Lee Ryan, and Percy Nayokpuk.

The other nine candidates would be new to the BSNC board. They include Roy Agloinga, Ella Anagick, Deborah Atuk, Daisy Chiskok, Patrick Johanson, Rebecca Neagle, Haven Harris, Marie Tozier, and Tony Weyiouanna, Sr.

“Bering Straits really values shareholder involvement,” Aarons said of the vote. “It’s really important that shareholders continue to have a say in the future of our company. And one way to do so is to participate in the voting process at the meeting.”

This weekend’s meeting will also feature an update from BSNC President and CEO Gail Schubert, and an update from the corporation’s Land and Resources Committees. The native corporation will also award the 2015 “Young Providers” award, given to young people from the region who contribute “to the health and well-being of their families, communities and culture.”

This year’s awards will go to Shaktoolik’s Heather Jackson and Nick Hanson of Unalakleet.

Jackson, a 20-year-old basketball enthusiast, “was taught and embraces the subsistence way of life by providing for her family and the Elders year-round in her village,” a release from BSNC notes. Hanson, who competed on the TV show “American Ninja Warrior”, is an active community member, NYO athlete, and suicide prevention advocate.

Hanson will receive the award honoring Herbie Nayokpuk, known as the “Shishmaref Cannonball,” who was well known as an avid Iditarod musher. Jackson’s award honors Sinrock Mary, known as the “Queen of Reindeer,” who overcame personal hardship and discriminatory laws against women and Alaska Natives to become a successful business woman.

As the Alaska Native corporation for the Bering Strait and Norton Sound region established through the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, BSNC and its subsidiaries have continued lucrative federal contracts, from operations support for “police peacekeeping” in Africa, to security at a submarine base in the state of Georgia. The company has also expanded its Alaska holdings with the purchase of Arcticom, a mobile radio services company, and the acquisition of the Alaska Industrial Hardware store chain in August.

The BSNC shareholders meeting begins Saturday at 10 a.m. at Nome’s Mini Convention Center.