CIRI Celebrates 50 Years

On June 8, 1972, CIRI was incorporated as one of 12 land-based Alaska Native regional corporations, with 6,276 original enrollees.

The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) was signed into law Dec. 18, 1971, and CIRI was formed less than six months later. CIRI started business with entitlements to select lands in the Cook Inlet region that were largely on top of mountains or under glaciers, in addition to $78 million in seed capital. CIRI leaders, unwilling to settle for less than ANCSA required, began discussions with state and federal government officials to negotiate the complex Cook Inlet Land Exchange, which was signed into law in its clarified form in 1976.

CIRI used the terms and conditions of the Cook Inlet Land Exchange and subsequent agreements to select resource-rich and commercially valuable lands that the corporation used to generate revenue to pay distributions to Shareholders and to reinvest for future income. Over time, CIRI’s Board of Directors and executive team successfully managed CIRI and its assets to balance the needs of current and future generations of Shareholders and Descendants.

CIRI Shareholders and Descendants

CIRI’s reason for being is the people who represent ownership and the future of our corporation. CIRI’s more than 9,000 Shareholders and their Descendants represent a cross-section of virtually every Alaska Native group from throughout the state—a unique cultural diversity that makes us stronger. In addition to our ethnic diversity, we share geographic diversity: Nearly 40% of CIRI Shareholders live outside Alaska.

Regardless of who we are or where we live, we are connected through our shared Alaska Native values—respect for the land, honoring those who came before us, sharing what we have and viewing differences as an opportunity to find solutions.

CIRI endeavors to be a strong and thriving force in the lives of our Shareholders and Descendants, and CIRI’s continued success relies on the involvement of all stakeholders, across geographies and generations.

Our Socially Driven Enterprises

The CIRI family of socially driven enterprises plays an important role in helping to fully realize the mission of CIRI. The contributions of our tribally designated organizations—the social programs offered by Cook Inlet Tribal Council, health services made available through Southcentral Foundation and housing opportunities provided by Cook Inlet Housing Authority—touch many CIRI Shareholders and Descendants, improving self-sufficiency and contributing to lifelong fulfillment.

CIRI’s nonprofit organizations—the Alaska Native Heritage Center and Koahnic Broadcast Corporation—provide important cultural education and information for people living in the Cook Inlet region and beyond. The CIRI Foundation, a private foundation established in 1982 by the CIRI Board of Directors, encourages the education and career development of its Alaska Native beneficiaries through post-secondary scholarships and grants, research and other education projects.

Our Villages and Tribes

CIRI, its villages and tribes and other Alaska Native organizations accomplish much when we work together. Whether the issues involve land access, joint ventures or other opportunities, our unity is our strength.

Over the last decade, CIRI has built and improved relationships with our villages and tribes, and this remains an important priority. The Tikahtnu Forum, which meets quarterly, is a commitment on behalf of CIRI to work with our village and tribal partners to explore new opportunities where we can work together to improve the lives of Alaska Native people in our region. CIRI’s connection to its village and tribal partners represents decades of shared values and opportunities for alignment, achievement and solidarity.

Our New Vision: The Next 50

In 2021, CIRI reached out to our Shareholders, Descendants, employees and others in Alaska and beyond to collect feedback on the future of our corporation. This feedback enabled CIRI to craft a New Vision that will guide the corporation’s actions into the future: A future where all CIRI stakeholders thrive.