Yakutat ’s village corporation has postponed its annual board election while it confers with its attorneys over what it says are “false accusations” over its logging operations.
Yak-Tat Kwaan, Inc. has been criticized by some tribal and city leaders, who believe that the corporation’s clear cuts threaten salmon streams and cultural sites. Yak-Tat Kwaan denies this.
The village corporation was created in the 1970s by the landmark Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act — or ANCSA — and granted more than 20,000 acres to benefit shareholders with ties to the traditional Yakutat village. Its annual meeting was planned for this Saturday.
But in an unsigned November 12 letter to the corporation’s few hundred shareholders, management says the election could be tainted by what it called “unfair attacks being leveled against” the corporation.
“The false accusations being leveled against the corporation have reached beyond the shareholders of the corporation, the community, and even the State of Alaska by way of social media,” the letter reads. “All shareholders deserve to have a free and fair election, which is not tainted by patently false claims about the decisions of the Board of Directors and the financial health of the company.”
Critical posts on social media were being reviewed by the village corporation’s attorneys, the letter added. In Alaska, ANCSA shareholder speech is regulated by state financial examiners that critics say can effectively chill free speech.
The CEO of Yak Timber, the logging subsidiary of the corporation, declined to comment.
The shareholder meeting has been pushed back until January 8, 2022. Its last annual meeting was January 30, 2021. State law requires an ANCSA corporation to hold a shareholder meeting and re-elect its board of directors at least once a year.