A word from the president, October 2013

MinichPresidentsMessage Photo ENewsThe CIRI Potlatch season is upon us and I have enjoyed the opportunity to meet with shareholders and their families in Kenai and Anchorage earlier this month. I also look forward to our meeting with shareholders when we gather in Puyallup, Wash. in November. This is a special time for the CIRI family to rekindle friendships, make new friends and acknowledge those who have passed away.

I especially want to congratulate Clare Swan who received the recognition of CIRI Shareholder of the Year and Betty Gilcrist, our CIRI Elder of the Year. Clare has an impressive lifetime of contributions – from being a leader in the Kenaitze Indian Tribe and helping to achieve an educational fishery for our people, to battling region-wide unemployment, racism and alcoholism. Meanwhile, Betty’s commitment to researching the history of Point Possession and passing on cultural knowledge and traditions will be a benefit for generations to come.

Also receiving well-deserved recognition at the Potlatches are CIRI descendants Amiel Crandall and Autumn Ridley, the winners of the first-ever CIRI Youth Recognition Awards. The new award category is part of CIRI’s commitment to deepen its engagement with the next generation of CIRI shareholders. Amiel and Autumn each demonstrated a strong dedication to personal growth and leadership. Please take the time to read about their accomplishments in this issue of the Raven’s Circle.

I suspect those of you paying attention to the national news have been frustrated watching the bitter disagreements among our nation’s political leaders. Between the health care debate, the budget battles, government shutdown and the debt ceiling disagreements, it feels like we’re listening to a broken record. I often wish our political leaders would try to run government more like a business. If so, they would realize that their failure to work together and compromise only serves to cause our nation damage.

While the government shutdown had only limited impacts on CIRI businesses, it affected some nonprofits, tribal organizations and other services on which our shareholders and descendants rely. Even before the shutdown, these organizations were feeling the effects of the sequestration cuts that came earlier this year. These cuts have impacted the Indian Health Service, education funding, substance abuse programs, Head Start, infrastructure projects and others.

Many Alaska Native corporations have also felt the impacts through cuts in federal contracting programs. While CIRI is not as dependent on federal contracting as some Alaska Native corporations, our businesses that do work with federal agencies have been impacted by an overall reduction in the number of contracts and delays in awarding contracts. CIRI is taking appropriate measures to respond to the uncertainty while encouraging our elected leaders to resolve their disagreements in a timely manner and limit the effects of the political stalemate.

While Congress finally reached agreement to re-open the government and extend the debt ceiling, it is only a three-month extension. This creates uncertainty in the financial markets and among those companies doing business with the federal government.

The National Congress of American Indians is closely following the events in Washington, D.C., as they pertain to services offered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Health Service and other agencies. You can find more information about these issues and how on-going developments could impact the various agencies and programs on the organization’s website, at www.NCAI.com.

In the meantime, CIRI will remain focused on those issues we can control as we manage our investments to deliver the highest return for our shareholders.

We are fortunate for the collaboration shared among shareholders, Board members, employees, nonprofits and business partners – a welcome contrast to the bitter divide we see in our nation’s political dialogue. Once again, I appreciate seeing all of you who came to the Potlatches and look forward to continuing our strong relationship into the future.