In a significant move, a powerful Alaska Native corporation is withdrawing from the Alaska Federation of Natives at the end of this year.
In a news release sent out late Friday afternoon, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation’s Director of Communications Ty Hardt wrote that the organization’s board of directors voted unanimously to end its membership in AFN on December 31, 2019.
“With this decision, ASRC intends to focus on the various needs within Alaska’s North Slope, where there is an increased degree of alignment as well as additional efficiencies related to shared geography and other interests,” Hardt said.
According to the release, the corporation had been in talks about withdrawing “for more than a year.”
The statement does not include specific issues or areas of divergence between ASRC and AFN, and Hardt did not answer multiple phone calls Friday evening. The Utqiaġvik-based company serves Inupiaq shareholders living primarily in Alaska’s North Slope. It is the largest corporation based in Alaska.
Particularly on issues around climate change and government regulation, fissures have emerged between ASRC and other influential tribal and corporate entities in Alaska. During the most recent AFN convention in Fairbanks, a resolution on whether or not to declare a climate emergency stalled for more than an hour, with many of the most vocal opponents hailing from the North Slope region.
ASRC would be the only ANC in Alaska not to be a member of AFN, which is the state’s largest native organization. All 11 other Alaska-based regional corporations, along with 12 regional non-profit organizations and 171 village corporations are part of the federation.
A spokesman for AFN did not return calls Friday evening.