For Jody

I received a comment about my article on Native villages last week from a lady named Jody who seemed to think that Alaska Natives, especially on the North Slope, are receiving more money than Bill Gates.  So let’s clear up a few things once and for all.

1. The North Slope is unique in that it encompasses Prudhoe Bay which brings in more tax revenues than other Native regions in the state receive.

2. The dividends received by North Slope Inupiaq come from their corporations. They are shareholders in for-profit corporations that make money and so they get dividends. This is not a state or federal handout. This is a dividend earned through their corporations ability to make profitable deals.

3. Alaska Natives in general are not rolling in money and many do not get dividends anywhere near what North Slope Inupiaq make. People on the Slope happen to have corporations that are doing very well. They owe no one any apology or share of the money for that.

4. Native people pay the same amount at the gas pump in Barrow as everyone else. Any senior discounts given to Native elders are given to them through THEIR corporations. What THEIR corporations choose to do with THEIR money is none of our business.

5. No one tells the municipality of Anchorage or the Fairbanks North Star Borough how to spend their revenues except for their residents. Why should the North Slope Borough be responsible to anyone except their residents for how they spend their budget. I may not always agree with them, but it is their tax dollars and their decisions. Just because it’s a Native borough doesn’t mean outsiders get to go in and tell them what to do.

6. If people want to play Bingo and the state says that’s legal, then the fact that they do is their business. Yes, many people have gambling habits that cause them to Bingo away the family food or rent money. But guess what? That happens in every city, suburb and village in this state. It is not merely a Native problem and if you think it needs to be addressed, then it needs to be addressed on a statewide basis and not just as a problem in Native communities.