Board Corner

CIRI Director Pat Marrs

A Message from CIRI Director Pat Marrs

My name is Patrick Marrs. I am an original CIRI shareholder, born and raised in Seldovia, Alaska, and it has been my honor to serve as a CIRI Director. Being from a fishing family, I grew up with the Alaska Native values of respecting the land and sea and upholding our responsibilities to future generations in this regard. At CIRI, we also have a responsibility to future generations.

As an original enrollee, I received 100 shares when I enrolled with the Corporation after the passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) in 1971. I now own 70 CIRI shares, having gifted 10 shares to each of my two children and five shares to each of my grandchildren.

ANCSA did not originally make provisions for Alaska Native children born after Dec. 18, 1971, sometimes referred to as “new Natives,” to become shareholders, other than through inheritance. However, the Act was amended in 1988 to provide other options for Alaska Native descendants to become ANCSA shareholders, including an option for existing shareholders to transfer stock as an inter vivos gift to their Alaska Native children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or (if the holder has reached the age of majority as defined by the laws of the State of Alaska) sisters or brothers, who are related by blood or adoption.

The amendments also permit ANCSA shareholders to vote to open enrollment and issue new stock to Alaska Native descendants born after Dec. 18, 1971. Over the years, CIRI has reached out in various ways to gauge how shareholders feel about “open enrollment.” Although opinion has always been mixed, to date, the majority of shareholders do not support open enrollment as it would reduce the amount of the distributions they receive; they have expressed that passing stock to relatives through inheritance and gifting is sufficient.

Inheriting or receiving a gift of stock gives our children and grandchildren a greater stake in the Corporation and provides a means to share our Native heritage. But CIRI makes numerous opportunities—including youth opportunities—available to CIRI shareholders and descendants, regardless of shareholder status.

Our company faces a number of important challenges and opportunities in the years ahead, and the next generation has a central role to play in the success of the Corporation—both in the short term, as creators and powerful advocates for change, and in the long term, as the leaders who will shape the future of our company. Encouraging CIRI descendants to participate in the Corporation is imperative to the long-term health and sustainability of CIRI, and it’s never too soon to do so.