23 JUL 1974
Statement to Stockholders,
Cook Inlet Region, Inc.
Re: Local Government in Rural Alaska
I am writing to you and to every other stockholder of Cook Inlet Region, Inc. living in the urban communities of Alaska in an effort to promote democratic self-determination for rural Alaskans as an important issue to be discussed in 1974. As Mayor of Alaska’s only first class, home rule borough, I must tell you that I have had to fight against organized attempts to destroy the North Slope Borough. I feel that these attacks are attacks upon your own economic self-interest as a stockholder of Cook Inlet Region, Inc., as well as upon those you love who are still living in the villages within your region.
I believe that the economic future of our regional corporations depends largely upon the future of Alaska, and her future will depend upon the development of strong democratic local governments throughout rural Alaska. The future of our State lies in the bush. We must now decide whether the future of rural Alaska will be one of economic exploitation or one of economic cooperation. The favorable economic climate within which our regional corporations must invest in rural Alaska if the full economic benefit of the Native Land Claims Settlement is to be realized can be secured only through democratic self-determination in rural Alaska. I have seen no willingness on the part of past and present State administrations to encourage, or cooperate with, local government in rural Alaska. If present policies continue, I foresee continued economic exploitation, and little economic cooperation for the people of rural Alaska.
This memo is part of our Local Government Education Program through which we want to organize widespread public support for democratic self-determination in rural Alaska generally, and behind the cause of the North Slope Borough in particular. We need all the help we can get. We have already undergone organized attempts to deprive our Borough of its right to levy any taxes at all upon the oil industry, and to restrict our Borough’s ability to sell municipal bonds to raise money to build new schools and sanitary village water and sewer systems. This in spite of the fact that the foundation for local government in America is its right to levy property taxes.
In future memos, I’ll detail our struggle to establish a traditional democratic local government on the North Slope, and identify those who helped us as well as those who opposed us. America will survive as a free nation because of its strength in local government. Your people will survive back in the village only with this sane strength.