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In Alaska, a promise unkept?

Updated | Alaska native corporations were created by Congress 40 years ago to help native Alaskan tribes rise above the poverty they’d suffered for decades. But have these companies delivered on their original promise?

In cooperation with the Washington Post, Need to Know features the investigative reporting of Robert O’Harrow Jr. His nine-month investigation details how the ANCs have received tens of billions of dollars worth of federal contracts in the last decade, and raises serious questions about whether native Alaskans are getting their fair share.


Photos and Video: Nikki Kahn, Washington Post

There have been several developments since O’Harrow’s series ran in the Washington Post. The federal government took action against GTSI, one of the companies cited in O’Harrow’s reporting. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) promised to introduce new legislation regarding Alaska native corporations. The trade association that represents Alaska native corporations – the Native American Contractors Association (NACA) – took issue with O’Harrow’s reporting, and its response can be found here.

After Need to Know’s program aired, that same trade association also took issue with our reporting. NACA wrote that Need to Know’s viewers “…were robbed of critical information regarding the strong value and exceptional service of the ANC industry.” We disagree with this characterization. Our program raised tough questions about how the Alaska native corporation program is currently operating, but we also cited industry officials and Congressional data describing the benefits that ANCs provide. We stand by our reporting. NACA asked that we post its entire letter on our website, and we’re happy to do so. It can be found here.

Related:
Two worlds: A Washington Post investigation