Sen. McCaskill Tribal Legislation Misguided and Damaging
(Anchorage, AK) Calling it misguided and wrong, Native American leaders criticized legislation introduced by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) that would effectively dismantle Alaska Native Corporations’ (ANCs) access to federal contracting through the Small Business Administration’s Native 8(a) program.
“It is clear Sen. McCaskill has turned a blind eye to the progressive policies of her predecessors allowing Native people a chance at economic self-sufficiency,” said Jana Turvey, Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Afognak Native Corporation. “The Senator’s crusade, despite countless success stories, shows a clear lack of understanding of federal Indian policies and deliberate ignorance of the benefits Alaska Native shareholders, their descendants and families receive because of the program.”
Robin Kornfield, Vice President, Communications and Marketing at NANA Development Corporation said, “Sen. McCaskill appears to be driven by headlines, not good public policy. Suggesting that Native people are better served by government handouts rather than business development is absurd. Welfare is not the answer.”
“Senator McCaskill’s claims of widespread abuses are plain false,” said Turvey, “and there is no evidence beyond the couple of cited cases. In an effort to protect her home-town constituencies, Sen. McCaskill has declared war on Native 8(a) corporations for being successful.”
Sen. McCaskill has indicated that her proposal would impose a cap on the size of federal contracts ANCs can receive through the 8(a) program. Congress created the program to provide a hand-up to ANCs, Tribes and Hawaiian Native Organizations, whose owners represent hundreds and thousands of economically disadvantaged individuals. As a result, access to federal contracting through the 8(a) program has energized dozens of Native Corporations, Tribes and Native Hawaiian Organizations and shareholders are experiencing growing benefits.
“This is about more than Alaska Native Corporations; this is an assault on Native enterprises as a whole. This kind of legislation is about generating sound bites, not helping Native enterprises achieve social and economic parity in our country,” said Robin Danner, President and CEO of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement.
According to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act Regional Association Annual report, benefits from ANCs fueled by Native 8(a) Contracting include:
- More than 35,000 jobs worldwide.
- NANA Regional Corporation distributed approximately $20 million to its more than 12,000 shareholders this week.
- In 2008, the 12 Alaska Native Regional Corporations distributed $171 million in dividends to shareholders, representing 66 percent of net profits.
- In 2008, Alaska Regional corporations contributed $11.1 million in educational scholarships to more than 3,200 recipients.
Get the facts about Native participation in federal contracting at native8aworks.org.