This month CIRI celebrates the 45th anniversary of its shareholder newsletter. From the beginning, CIRI has prided itself on keeping its shareholders informed about the current state and future vision of the corporation. But the newsletter didn’t always look the way it does now!
In 1972, the newsletter consisted of five typewritten sheets of meeting notes. A major topic was the 1.25 million acres of land CIRI was to receive as part of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). Much of the quality land in the Cook Inlet region was already spoken for by state or private interests, except for federal withdrawals, like the Kenai Moose Range and military reservations. “Mainly mountainous or glacial terrain,” the notes read.
According to the newsletter, the lone appointee from the Joint Federal-State Land Use Planning Commission for Alaska “came to Anchorage wanting to know what our region looked like. He got a plane from the B.L.M. (Bureau of Land Management) and invited the region (representatives from CIRI) to fly with him around the Secretary’s (U.S. Secretary of the Interior) withdrawals. (CIRI Board members) Larry Oskolkoff and Peter Ezi went along. The withdrawn acreage was inaccessible for even goats and sheep.”
Four years later, rounds of negotiations with the state and federal governments led to the Cook Inlet Land Exchange, which enabled CIRI to acquire valuable land on the Kenai Peninsula and bid on out-of-region land selections, rather than settle for “mountaintops and glaciers.”
Those parcels would help bolster CIRI’s financial foundation and make it possible for the company to weather tough times, continue to grow and eventually become one of Alaska’s most successful Alaska Native corporations.
Learn more about CIRI’s land story at ciri.com/our-lands/cirilandstory.