Walter "Wally" Carlo was interviewed on April 25, 2022 by Bill Schneider and Karen Brewster through the Zoom audio-conferencing software with each person being at their own homes in Fairbanks, Alaska. In this interview, Wally talks about implementation of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act by the Native regional corporations, in particular his experience with Doyon, Ltd. He discusses the ups and downs of the corporation, the learning curve for how to operate a corporation and handle investments, and the use of the net operating loss program after investing in an asbestos mine that could not be developed. He also talks about the economic impact of the Native corporations and their need to balance resource development with environmental stewardship and the continuation of Native lifestyles and traditions. Wally also shares his thoughts on climate change and provides an overview of his family history in the Rampart area and along the Yukon and Koyukuk Rivers.
Digital Asset Information
Project: Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act
Date of Interview: Apr 25, 2022
Narrator(s): Walter "Wally" Carlo
Interviewer(s): Karen Brewster, Bill Schneider
Transcriber: Ruth Sensenig
After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.
Personal background, and getting involved with land claims
His father, Bill Carlo, and his family background
His mother, Poldine Carlo, and her family background
Working with his father on a CAT train from Fairbanks to Livengood to Stevens Village
Poldine Carlo's establishment of the Fairbanks Native Association and her role in Native issues in Fairbanks
Early years of Doyon, Ltd. regional corporation, and enrolling shareholders
Witnessing poor treatment of Native employees at Doyon Construction, and running for a seat on the Doyon, Ltd. board of directors
Financial and management problems at Doyon, Ltd.
Investment in asbestos mine, and use of net operating loss to save the company
Doyon getting into the oil field operations and drilling business
Success of Doyon for shareholders in terms of employment and education
Campbell's Soup purchasing Doyon's net operating loss from the asbestos mine
Economic impact of Alaska Native regional corporations
Resource development and balancing it with environmental protection
Doyon's priority of protecting land and resources, and slowing climate change
More explanation of how the net operating loss program worked
Balancing development with protecting the environment, traditional subsistence lifestyles, cultures, and Native languages
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After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.
KAREN BREWSTER: This is Karen Brewster and Bill Schneider, um, interviewing Wally Carlo on April 25, 2022, and it’s via Zoom. Although we’re all in Fairbanks, we’re doing it over Zoom.
And this is for the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Project Jukebox. So Wally, thank you for joining us, and Bill, take it away.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah. Well, Wally, I got really intrigued when you were -- began our discussion the other day talking about your parents and the early years when you would go down to FNA.
And I thought maybe we should start with that. Could you talk a little bit about that for the record?
WALLY CARLO: Ok. My name is Walter Carlo. I, uh, I grew up in Ruby, Galena. In 1957, we moved to Fairbanks.
So when I was -- my first years in high school is when we had -- my folks had Willie, Willie Hensley from Kotzebue, and Chuck Gray (mispeaks here, he means Nick Gray) from Nome.
They came to visit my folks, and they’re talking about -- this was probably 1960 to '61, in there. And they were talking about getting each village or each community, maybe, organized and start an association, a Native association.
And also, Ralph Perdue was there at my folks’ place. The late Ralph Perdue. BILL SCHNEIDER: Um-hm.
WALLY CARLO: And so, Nick Gray was doing a lot of the talking and visioning about traveling all over Alaska to these villages and starting organizations. So, and eventually have a federation of Natives, of all Alaska Natives.
And that -- that reality came true, uh, it must’ve been in late '60’s, but he had passed away when AFN had their first meeting. Died of cancer. He was in the hospital at that time. But that was his vision and his dream, and it happened.
Fairbanks Native Association, we used to -- I was a young man, then. I’d sit in on these meetings. Still going to Lathrop High School.
And they used to have their organizational meetings over in the Hospitality House off of Airport Road, there. Close to -- Oh, where was that? I don’t know if you remember Captain Bartlett Inn? KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm. WALLY CARLO: Yeah, right straight across from there.
That’s where the Hospitality House was. For living quarters for people that lived out of town, mostly Native people, that came to Fairbanks to get an education.
So that’s where FNA was started. I think Ralph Perdue was their first president, and then Jules Wright, the late Jules Wright who had just passed away this year. And uh, yeah, that’s where it got started.
And politics, just being around it all my life, I guess. Especially, my folks were always real active. At that time, in ’57, early '60’s, there was not much spaces for Native people to go to, even, or gather.
And because of FNA getting started, we were able to have events, meetings, and celebrations of our culture, our dance and song, and potlatch, and all Native food. And that used to happen, I think some of the first ones was at the old Eagles Hall. And that was located on 5th Avenue, I believe, where the bus station is. Where the bus station sits now.
Um, yeah, so those were really fun times. Everybody kicking in, and cooking food and cleaning up, serving, and dancing. I was --
BILL SCHNEIDER: Sounds like it.
WALLY CARLO: Yeah, I was there. They had a hardwood floor, I remember that. All through high school, that’s where we’d go every weekend, my brothers and I and our friends, and just do a lot of swing dancing. It was the era of the swing dance.
KAREN BREWSTER: Sounds fun. Um. WALLY CARLO: Oh, yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Wally, just -- WALLY CARLO: I still -- go ahead.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, yeah, I was going to say, just for the record, even though we know who your parents were, maybe you could give us their names.
WALLY CARLO: Oh, my parents, uh, my dad was William Carlo, and he passed away in 1992. And my mother was Poldine Carlo.
Well, just back up. My dad was from Rampart. His great grand -- his grandfather had -- was one of the ones that discovered Rampart, the gold rush there, the gold. And I think it was 1893.
And my father, he was a -- he was a half breed. His father was Italian from southern Italy, a little place called Grimaldi. And he had -- he came over with Joe Notti, and I think it was Vernetti (Dominic Vernetti) from Koyukuk.
Anyways, my dad’s father’s name was Carlo Jacketta (says it this way, but his name was Carlo Jackett). And they ended up, those two people, one came across the US and ended up in Alaska. Both those, both of them came to Alaska at different times, but their interest was in gold.
And wouldn’t you know, they -- they ended up marrying sisters out of the Pitka Pavaloff family.
Uh, Joe Notti, who’s the father of the father of the land claims, Emil Notti. BILL SCHNEIDER: Hm. WALLY CARLO: So my dad and Emil are first cousins. BILL SCHNEIDER: Hm. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.
WALLY CARLO: And, uh, yeah. And he discovered the gold in 1893 along with his half-brother. His name was Minook. And because they were not --
They were denied claims. And the reason they were denied claims, because they said, "You are not US citizens. You're Natives." So they missed out on the gold mining.
In fact, my dad’s father, Carlo Jacketta (Jackett), they -- he -- I recently ran into some little bit of history of when Rampart was incorporated as a mining district. I recog -- there was five people that were incorporators.
And I recognized two names on there. One was my father -- my grandfather, Carlo Jacketta (Jackett), and the other one was Wiehl. John Wiehl (actually was Joe Wiehl), I believe it was. 1897.
So the Wiehls are still over there today, and descendants -- Carlo descendants are over there, too, because we mined over there. Uh, on Hunter Creek. From 1968 to -- 'til my father died.
But my father said when he was a little kid, he, uh, he remembers going up that creek with his mother. And his mother had an infant boy, infant son, and he walked with them, and she handed over this, uh, this boy to be adopted by these other miners.
Yeah. His name was Clement. His adopted name, Clement, and he grew up in Juneau. And the only time I -- first time I ever met him was when he came up to Fairbanks to attend my father’s funeral. Woody Clement, that’s what his name was.
But his occupation was, uh, when he grew up and raised in Juneau, he was -- he was a boat captain, ship captain, and he ran these ships between Alaska and Seattle area for repairs or just -- he did a lot of that kind of work along the coast.
My mother, she was from Nulato, and related to the Demoskis and the Stickmans. She was -- she was -- she was an orphan. And mother -- her father drowned. They never did find him. Behind an island when the ice was running.
They could hear screaming from the village, uh, and he was in a little canoe, uh, going over there, to tend to his dogs. But they didn’t get there in time, and all they ever found was the canoe.
And I remember that canoe, when I was a kid, at the gravesite. It was just a wooden frame.
And then -- then her mother passed away at a young age, so she was raised by, uh, she was raised by her Grandma and Grandpa Stickman. So she ended up learning all the old ways of our culture and traditions. Uh, speaking the -- fluently, the Athabascan language, Koyukon Athabascan language.
As a matter of fact, she told a story about -- when we were at our breakfast table, my brothers and I, one of the last ten years, she mentioned this one time as a chief.
How they used to select chiefs was they’d have kind of like a oral contest, uh, out in the middle of the hall. And whoever would get the other one stuck, that’s who became chief.
But anyway, this one chief, she said she saw -- she was just a little girl, and she saw this chief coming towards her. And he was from the Koyukuk area. The Koyukuk River area.
And she said she was just shaking, and she kinda had the feeling that the chief was coming right towards her and was going to ask her something, but he did go to her and asked her to come out into the middle of the floor and interpret for him. And she did.
As that chief knew she knew the language. And those were, you know, they were using high-level words. That’s what she told us.
But, uh, that’s just one of the stories. She had a lot of them. And we’re just fortunate enough to sit at the breakfast table, my brothers and I, for about ten years, every morning. Go over there at seven in the morning.
Uh, it was a chance for her to heal because we had lost my late sister, Lucy Carlo, who was a charter Doyon -- Doyon, Limited, board member. And sister-in-law right after that.
So anyway, that’s where I came from, two exciting people. My dad was a miner all his life and master mechanic. He was a pilot, a real good pilot, bush pilot. Master guide.
And uh, when we had these CAT trains just before the pipeline was built, he was asked to lead these CAT trains, and he did. That was -- and, you know, might be forty, fifty pieces of equipment.
And we’re pioneering, going -- starting from Livengood or Fairbanks one time, actually two times, going up towards Livengood and cross-country towards Stevens Village.
And another ti -- so he’d guide us. He’d throw a couple tires in the back of his airplane and -- old tires. And usually my oldest brother was on the lead CAT.
And Dad would tell them which way to go, and sometimes they didn’t know which way to go, he’d land and set one of those tires -- take one of those tires out and set it on fire and tell ’em, "Head straight for the -- for the smoke."
So you know, we went up toward Bettles and up Crevice Creek, up over through the Brooks Range, and come out the other side. We came out around Toolik (Lake), close to Chandalar Lake.
That was in ’70, 1970, and I was one of those that recorded all this in a journal, almost hour by hour.
So we did tha -- and then the land claims was in progress. The oil and gas was discovered, and the state was selecting their lands, and so that’s when --
It’s a good thing those guys set up all this Native organizations, ’cause they jumped into the battle, and consequently, there was a land freeze. And uh, that was our leverage to -- to get something passed.
Nixon was in the White House, and he signed the Alaska Native Land Claims. 1971.
I was at that meeting when they did that in Anchorage, and uh, like it or not, I remember Joe Upicksoun, uh, he gave a fiery speech right in the face of the Secretary of Interior. I forget what his name was, but, you know. I don’t know why the Secretary of Interior didn’t come up. That’s what he was --
Joe Upicksoun was complaining about, because there was a lot undone. But that’s the best at that time. The best our Native leaders could do and what would be accepted by Congress. Anyway, it was signed.
So all that equipment they brought up in 1970, you know, because of the moratorium. It was on for about four years, so in 1974, everything was settled.
We again brought up new equipment, going up through Bettles and Crevice Creek and through the Brooks Range. So, uh, had it not been for the oil discovered, we -- I know we wouldn’t have had the settlement we did have, get. We’d probably be still doing a lot of the fighting to this day.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Were you involved in that CAT train up there, and -- the second one?
WALLY CARLO: Oh, yes, I was. I was. In fact, I did a lot of recording on the second one in a journal. I just recently found that second one, that second journal, but I haven’t discovered the first one yet. It was at my folks’ place in one of their filing cabinets.
So. Yeah, there's -- I’d look at it every once in a while. Look -- It was pretty interesting. It was exciting, really, to be pioneering like that.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah, it sounds like it. That was quite an experience.
WALLY CARLO: Oh, yeah. Geez, I was young and my -- a lot of my brothers -- And by the way, you know, when -- when we had this -- when Dad put this crew together, it was all Native, uh, Native hands.
And he said, "Geez, I need to hire a couple of non-Natives ’cause they’re going to say I’m discriminating." So there -- there again was -- the shoe was on the other foot, this time.
But he hired a guy that was married to a -- oh, he had a homestead up in the -- on Crevice Creek, and he was married to a Native lady.
KAREN BREWSTER: Fickus? WALLY CARLO: Bill Fick -- KAREN BREWSTER: Fickus. WALLY CARLO: Bill -- it was the name. Real nice guy.
And then there was uh -- and then he hired a cook from up in that area, maybe Wiseman. But he was in the caboose. Yeah, our cook.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Hey, before we leave that early period, can you talk a little bit about your mom and her role in, um, land claims issues, at least in the Fairbanks area?
WALLY CARLO: Well, I think Mom was-- Mom was involved from the very beginning to the end, as far as, uh, her life. Even she was -- could barely get around, she would make it to -- she was on the FNA board, Fairbanks Native Association board, at the time of her passing, and she always attended TCC meetings.
She was at just about every Doyon, Limited, meeting. You know, they usually have quarterly meetings. And she’d be there. They had a chair for her on the side, any time, and she was always treated well. And uh, always looked for advice. They looked to her.
But she was involved right from the time we moved to Fairbanks. In fact, when we first moved up here, she found that it was not that many Native families here, but the ones that were here, you know, they supplemented their stay -- their living, with doing arts and crafts, beading and making hats and coats and slippers, anything to supplement their expenses that they had.
And she heard that the city council was -- was -- someone brought up that we need to tax these Native people that are selling some of their goods. Their slippers and beaded items.
So my mother, she went down to the next city council meeting after she heard that, and said, "I understand you’re going to be wanting to tax -- tax us for the little things we’re doing. Even putting decals on our windows with a -- saying this is a business that sells arts and crafts and clothing."
And she said, "You can’t do that. You go tax these prostitutes up here on the southern part of town, ’cause I know you and you and you frequent those places." And that was the end of that discussion. So they dropped -- they dropped that idea.
But you were -- if the kettle was black, she’d call it black. So that’s my mother.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah. Well, that’s neat. Hey, so you were involved in the early years of Doyon and throughout the years.
Uh, can you tell us a little bit about that experience of starting the corporation and your involvement?
WALLY CARLO: Well, I have to, uh, first of all, I want -- have to honor all those that have contributed. All those board members, past presidents, workers, that started out in those early years because it was difficult.
We made a lot of mistakes, because we didn’t know any better. I mean, we’re not business people. We were used to hunting and fishing and keep your life busy that way. Just trying -- trying to live off the land. So we made a lot of mistakes.
My sister, she -- my late sister, Lucy, she was younger than me by about three or four years, but she was involved right, uh, in the creation of these corporations.
And I think, uh, probably in the -- in the early years before even the claims act was settled, ’cause I’ve seen pictures of her at a lot of those meetings.
I came after. She was there at the start. I, however, when it first started, 19, maybe 66, I was going to school in Long Beach. Long Beach, California. And going to an accounting school down there.
But my mother, bless her heart, every month she’d roll up the month newspapers in a big roll for that month and I’d keep -- I’d stay caught up that way and find out what’s going on in Alaska and in Fairbanks.
I used to be a newspaper boy when we first came up here. I think all my brothers were.
But yeah, I got involved. Well, I was in a -- living in Tanana at the time the settle -- Native Claims Act was settled, or signed.
And so when I was down there, course I didn’t know all the lineage, but I’d help organize, and I’d record what the -- I’d get all the elders together.
And they had these list of people that had signed up for the enrollment. And we’d get that list, and we’d get the group of elders, and they’d go through the names one by one, and see if they were eligible to be enrolled through Tanana.
So that’s the first place it went, as accepting these enrollees or rejecting. There was a lot of people, too, that were not Native, that tried to get on that enrollment. So that was my early involvement.
And then I worked for -- after Doyon got started, they ended up with a construction company. They joint ventured with Neil Bergt, Alaska Industrial Construction.
I think that was about 1975 to do some oil exploration work in the Kandik, which is east of Fort Yukon. Around -- actually, around Eagle.
So I worked on that project in ’75. I think they put three wells down. So I worked construction for that, uh, for that joint venture, Doyon and AIC.
And I saw, um, practices there that -- we tried to get a number of our Native people hired.
And AIC was hiring their own people, and they’d come to the job from other places up on Slope, and intimidated a lot of our Native people to -- and pick on them to just get them terminated. Or pick on them enough that they’d lose spirit and leave the job.
And I was -- I was one of those that kinda organized to -- against their practice in the camp. So there was always people listening at the door or through the walls.
So on my break, I went to -- came back to Fairbanks and met with management, told them what was going on, how our shareholders were being treated to get them off the job.
Even though they were well qualified and could do the work just as good or better than a lot of the others that were trying to get them fired.
So when I didn’t see enough action by management, or -- not Doyon management but Doyon Construction, I decided I’d run for the board.
It was about five years later, and at that time, Doyon had -- Doyon, Limited, had their management slate, which most -- they operated just like, uh, any American corporation operated, which is with the management slate where you can’t, uh -- it would be difficult for anybody that wanted to get on that, to make it.
’Cause they can solicit proxities (proxies), use on corporate funds. ’Cause they’d have to deal with the -- you know, follow the management slate. And they were able to select who they wanted.
So I applied, and uh, they put me on. It was four seats, and since they put me on, they put somebody else on, so that made it six people running for four seats.
And, of course, I was the underdog. And I wasn’t given a chance to make it, but I said, "Well, I’m going to try anyway."
So I was living in Tanana, had the little airplane, and I got that -- It was a Citabria. A GCBC, 150 horsepower.
So I got in the little airplane. I went to all the way from Tanana to Beaver, hit all the villages. Went down the Koyukuk River.
I went to all the villages. You know, knocked on cabin doors and let them know what I was doing. This is what I’m about. I’m looking for -- trying to get more jobs for our people ’cause we needed jobs and badly. So I went all the way -- I flew all the way down to between Beaver and Holy Cross.
And annual meeting came -- time came, and the votes were counted, and I ended up being one of the top vote getters. Top vote getter.
So that’s -- that was 1980. And uh, a lot -- a lot happened. We had a lot going on, Doyon, Limited. A lot of companies, you know.
We tried to do our best, but fell short. And we ran into cash flow problems. And we borrowed a lot of money, and the banks could see what was happening before anybody even at Doyon could know. Would know.
So, when you have cash flow problems, then the banks start calling their notes, and that was what was happening. So a big struggle, a proxy battle ensued, and new board members were elected and were able to make some changes and started all over again.
I mean, we’re not the only corporation that did this because, uh, Bering -- Bering Straits, they were one of those corporations that entered bankruptcy.
And it was caused by people that they were supposed to get good advice from. From financial institutions that were selling them on companies that -- underperforming companies.
And, you know, course, we -- weren't -- like I said, we’re not business people, and they took advantage, just like a carpet bagger. That’s what they would do. These people don’t know any better. We’re going to take advantage of them."
So that’s what happened all over Alaska. And Doyon was no different. We had, uh -- we had good smart management, but, you know, just -- it was a number of factors. A lot of times, it was caused from the inside. People that you paid a lot of dollars to to give you good advice, and they didn’t.
Doyon, uh -- well, of course, you know, you’re dealing with a lot of other things, too, like land selections. That takes hours and hours. And shareholders just -- Just a lot of stuff that was required before you even could get a good footing. And that went on for, geez, you know, at least 30, 35 years.
I remember, uh, during that early '80’s, there was a -- we had a prospect. It was called -- we did a lot of drilling, and we knew there was asbestos close to the Canadian border. So we did a lot of drilling up there, kept a lot of core samples.
And asbestos we were getting was high quality asbestos. And we did enough drilling there to find that it was a major find, major discovery.
And so, of course, at that time, there was a, uh, law against using -- initiated against using asbestos because of the harmful effects. And it -- you know, real fine particles even getting into the air, no matter what kind of precautions you took covering it -- covering up all the conveyors and everything when you’re processing.
So we’re stuck with this. We’ve put millions of dollars into this prospect. So -- and then besides that, we're just -- Doyon, Limited and another -- a lot of other corporations in financial trouble, so there was the Land Reform Act, or Tax Act, that was being initiated.
And so, a part of that act -- amendments to that act was to Native -- for Native corporations to be able to sell their Native -- I mean, net operating losses. And Cook Inlet was one of those.
And yeah, and we were in the process of going through all the trouble with all these companies that we had to shut down. So we had some real good people working on, uh, this asbestos company.
So we took what it would have been, what kind of income it would’ve brought us if it became a world-class operation when we're into production. And so, we ended up with a net operating loss of a company that was a going concern.
And so, we were able to sell those, the net operating loss. And, of course, this all has to pass all the tests, the auditing tests. People that earned that business, too, but we were able to get all that passed.
It passed the test, 'cause we still had all the -- we still had all the core samples and the building structures we put up there, you know, so we were serious about it.
I -- that was -- some of that net operating loss was what gave us a new start. I think it was, uh, oh, north of 60 million that we were able to get started with. I’m trying to think of -- 70 million sticks into my head, but I forget. But that’s how we got started again.
And, of course, we -- we had a president that -- Tim Wallis, was really good. One day, I brought my cousin in there to see -- introduce him to Tim Wallis. And his name was Tim Scannell. I said, "Now, there’s two Tims." Uh, said, Tim -- Neil was what his real name was, Neil Scannell.
Said, "If we’re going to get into the oilfield business, here’s the guy that you need to be talking to." And it was Neil. He --
I at first worked up on the Slope with him in ’69, but he’s a -- kind of a self-taught guy. Actually, a high IQ. Military electronic technician.
We worked together in ’69 up on the Slope. And I unloaded the first topping plant (an extraction plant for removing the lighter components of oil) up there, and Neil ended up running it with Sam Demientieff. Was those two -- two guys running that.
But they'd have problems with that. He totally redesigned that topping plant, and when they'd have a problem out -- those engineers, they’d call Neil and ask him to get on a plane and come down to California. Neil would go down and -- and have a solution for them. And he’d be on the next plane coming back the next day. I mean, that’s how sharp this guy was.
Anyway, where I’m going with this story, uh, Tim Wallis and -- proposed getting into the drilling business, oil drilling. And we joint ventured with oh, Brinkerhoff out of Canada.
They were a family of drillers up there, and we dealt with the son, George Brinkerhoff. So we got into the business. I think that was in 1981 or '82.
So we had this designed innovative drill rig that could -- was movable, moved on its own power. Big, huge wheels that you could jack down and move anyplace.
That was Rig No. 9, the first rig, and it was built in Edmonton. And they took it -- they -- it was delivered by barge. That rig is still in operation today.
Uh, from that point to today, we have nine drill rigs. We’ve employed hundreds of shareholders over the years.
I would say, in my opinion, that Doyon Drilling company that Tim Wallis, uh, created under his leadership is the flagship of Doyon, Limited. Not only has it employed people that needed work all these years, but those people that were employed raised good, strong, healthy families. They put all their kids -- kids through college.
Uh, you know, they started -- the Doyon Foundation was really started by earnings from the drilling company. So now today we have probably more higher education or college graduates, and doctors and lawyers, than any other organization.
As a matter of fact, some board members from other corporations say they want to emulate what Doyon has done with their shareholders.
Even today -- when I first went to Doyon, 1980. Well, actually ’75, I went to the quarters, headquarters, but there was very few Native people in there. Maybe the president. Maybe one person in shareholder records.
All of accounting was, uh, non-Native. I think there was one Native, but she was from a different area. And that went on for quite a few years until that drilling company was formed and those workers were able to get their kids to school.
So, I always say, the drilling company is the root of what Doyon, Limited, is today. If you walk through the halls of Doyon, Limited, the corporate halls, you will see all the head positions are shareholders. College educated. They’re the ones that’s running Doyon, Limited, today.
Even our -- although Neil was the first president of Doyon Drilling, Scannell, uh, just recently, uh -- and he only served there maybe, oh, three or four years, then he went back to work on the Slope for another company.
But this past year we put another shareholder. The first shareholder since Neil left was now running Doyon Drilling.
The last two years, we’ve had our first field superintendent who was a shareholder. And he came from the village of Rampart.
I sat in on one of the Doyon Drilling meetings when they were considering hiring another field superintendent. And I wasn’t a board member of that drilling company, but I spoke up. I said, "You know, when I was a young man, and we were mining in Rampart, there was this young boy. He was about seven, eight years old. And six o'clock in the morning, he’d be down at the house. He’d want a ride out to the mine. All the other kids were sleeping 'til, you know, one, two o'clock in the afternoon."
There was this young boy. And he’d tell me this story. This boy I was talking about, he’s growing up -- I said, "Yeah, you could come -- you could come with me, but you better go home and wash behind your ears first. Then come back."
So he’d do that. He’d run home and come back all cleaned up. We’d go out to the mine. And at that time, he was working -- when I went to this meeting, he was working up on the Slope in a supervisory position.
But I told that story to the board there and to the management. I said, "This kid’s put in 30 years. The same kid I told you this story about put in 30 years. You need to make him the field superintendent."
And, by golly, they did. He’s their very first field superintendent in the oil field. And that’s where all the decisions are made, is out there in the field.
So that’s a success story on -- David Evans was his name. I don’t know if you know him or not. But, uh. BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah.
WALLY CARLO: Yeah. That’s the -- I put in that plug for him, 'cause it was true. He -- he -- he always took care of his hands and made sure they worked safely. Had a good record. So that was what they learned from my dad, working out at the mine.
And my -- all my nephews, they work -- they work in the oil fields industry somewhere. Because they got their start when they were little kids in my dad’s gold mine. Actually, it’s a family -- was a family gold mine. We were all partners, so.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Well, that’s neat. Um, could I back up a second to that net operating loss and the asbestos. Uh, I’m not quite clear as to what Doyon was able to sell.
Was it the prospect of what they could’ve made, or was it what they had actually invested in the operation to date, or was it both of those things?
WALLY CARLO: It was a combination of both. BILL SCHNEIDER: Ok.
WALLY CARLO: The, uh, a lot of times you sell an asset based on potential income. And the value was probably -- it was probably one of the -- what came to the -- that number. Net lost of a -- of a asbestos mine that was a going concern.
It would’ve been ’cause it was -- it was a major find. And there was the Canadians on the other side, they had a mine of their own called the Cassiar, so and --
BILL SCHNEIDER: And who did -- who did you sell the net operating loss to?
WALLY CARLO: I think it was -- there was more than one company, but one of the companies was Campbell’s. Campbell’s Soup.
They -- they bought it. They bought a part of it. What they could use. Because they -- they saved money on their tax burden.
They paid less, uh, by purchasing some of our net operating losses. They couldn’t pay, I think, more than 80 percent, so.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Boy, that was fortunate, huh? WALLY CARLO: That was what? BILL SCHNEIDER: That was fortunate, eh?
WALLY CARLO: Oh, it was. That’s what gave a lot of us our second chance. And we needed that second chance because -- because of the learning curve.
You know, we’re -- uh, a lot of these corporations are doing really well now. I’m talking about all the Alaskan regional corporations.
You know, where it might be as far as commerce and the economics, probably -- they’re probably responsible for up to 70 percent of the economy in the state of Alaska with these Native corporations. So it was good for the state, for everyone. All these jobs. BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah.
WALLY CARLO: That, uh -- And it’s not all manned by just shareholders. A lot of people don’t realize that.
Like in Fairbanks here, that’s always against Native people, and when a lot of their employment is coming from us.
A lot of these businesses in town don’t realize the amount of money we put in the economy, not only for keeping families healthy and getting them a paycheck every week or two. And, you know, that’s what -- There’s big impact.
Doyon is in Fairbanks. Not only Doyon, but other regional corporations. They have -- they have a lot of work in Fairbanks, too.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah. Yeah, some people have said that really, the regional corp -- Native regional corporations have turned the economy around.
Where the wealth used to drain out from natural resource -- resource development. And today, the wealth is staying in Alaska and being distributed.
WALLY CARLO: Oh, that’s true. And the other thing is, you know, these corporations, they have, uh, they have business globally. So they’re bringing a lot of new dollars back into Alaska.
And what’s so neat about it, too, is through distributions to its members, they’re spending their dollars in some of these big places. Not only in their communities, but like Fairbanks and Anchorage. BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah.
WALLY CARLO: Uh, 20 -- I guess probably close to 25 percent of our shareholders live in the Fairbanks area. BILL SCHNEIDER: Um-hm.
WALLY CARLO: 25 percent in Anchorage. And 25 percent stateside. The other 20 percent in the villages.
And you gotta bring new dollars into those villages, ’cause that has a multiplier of about seven. So every dollar that you bring into a village, that means seven dollars.
BILL SCHNEIDER: How’s that? Could you explain that?
WALLY CARLO: Well, sometimes some of these people, they come back in, say from a job, and in the meantime, they’re paying -- their families got to go to the store. So they’re spending dollars there. BILL SCHNEIDER: Oh, I see.
WALLY CARLO: Some of it you got to spend it. Spend some dollars cutting wood or hauling water. Utility company. So it circulates. That dollar circulates, about seven times. Yeah.
BILL SCHNEIDER: I see what you mean, yeah.
WALLY CARLO: Yeah. That’s the multiplier of seven.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah. So one of the issues, I think, that the regional corporations face now is development opportun -- natural resource development opportunities and whether they’re dependent on those opportunities or whether they’ve been able to diversify into other areas.
Do you want to comment on that in terms of Doyon?
WALLY CARLO: Well, our early leaders, there’s certain areas they selected based on resources they thought might be there. So, and -- and all the land was -- in the selection process was given up from, say, some other areas to concentrate on an area for a larger selection based on what they thought that resources might be there.
Uh, which would in the future would benefit all shareholders.
Uh, I only can think of like in my own time and my dad’s time when, you know, we’d -- his relative discovered Rampart. And also the Circle district, Birch Creek's -- the same people discovered that. They’re still -- they’re still operating that over in the Circle area.
And we mined out of Ruby when I was a kid. And my dad went from Rampart to Ruby, because of the -- when Rampart slowed down, went down on a raft with his brother and -- his brothers, and stayed there and got jobs there, either in the mining industry or taking care of horses or dogs.
Mostly my dad worked in the mine. But they were going to places that, uh was -- they were able to work and get supplement to their subsistence lifestyle.
And they did the same thing on -- people on the Koyukuk River did the same thing. A lot of old timers, their younger years were spent in the gold mines. Like at Hog (Hogatza) River. Wiseman. Uh, Flat.
And then even when the -- there used to be about 50 steamboats going up and down this Yukon River, and Tanana River, Koyukuk River, Innoko Rivers.
And uh, these -- a lot of the people that were -- lived along the rivers, they had cut wood for those steamboats. You know, for the income. BILL SCHNEIDER: Um-hm.
WALLY CARLO: To supplement what they were already living on. I --
To tell you the truth, I don’t think the resources are out there for all of us to be living off the land. The resources would be, um, used up.
There’s -- in fact, there’s no fish now. That’s a resource that -- we put -- Doyon, we put a lot of high priority on a lot of the -- our subsistence lifestyles, traditions, and useful resources, to protect those resources.
And the fish was no fault of any of us. You know, that’s a global, uh, problem. I guess as the population has more than doubled in the billions, you know, in the last, what, 40 years? 50 years? Of this earth, so they’re using up the resources fast.
In fact, they -- those big ships and processing ships, they killed our Yukon. They probably killed it in one drag of their nets.
They know they’re killing off a culture. And I call it, you know, just -- it’s genocide is what they’re doing. And they know they’re doing it. They’re killing off this, a lot of cultures. And that’s happening.
And it’s competition on a global scale. That’s what they did to the Atlantic. And we don’t have any kind of legislation to stop it. I mean, they did on the Atlantic, but it was too late.
By the time they got their's, the Canadians -- Native people, they protested, and it was just too late. They killed it.
So that’s, uh, I don’t know. It’s the first time I’ve -- I used to fish along the Yukon. Between Tanana and Rampart. And it was not uncommon for me to get a fish that was between 50 and -- in fact, I caught one close to 70 pounds. BILL SCHNEIDER: Whoa.
WALLY CARLO: Beautiful king salmon. But they’re not there today. You’re getting, uh, small fish. A lot of them probably not enough fat on them to get to where they even need to go.
Fish that are between 15 and 20 pounds. And now, if you’re lucky to get that. BILL SCHNEIDER: Right.
WALLY CARLO: So. Anyway, we -- we still have a lot of work to do. A lot of work.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Well, it’s going to be interesting to see how things develop and what role the regional corporations can play in helping to solve some of those issues.
WALLY CARLO: Well, we’ve been in the battle right -- you know, right from the beginning. BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah.
WALLY CARLO: In fact, uh, you know, it’s taken 50 years to just select the lands, get conveyance, and we’re still working on some. But we haven’t lost anything.
We have, that’s one thing, like, I could say like Doyon. We have -- we’re very protective of the land. You know, that’s top priority.
we have a data bank that’s pretty astronomical. A data bank on our lands. And it -- and it’s taken years to get that. We spend millions every year just in that department.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, Doyon has a very large lands department.
WALLY CARLO: Yes. Have a large, a large database. So it would be very difficult to try to duplicate.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah. Well, I only have really one more question, and I don’t want to keep you too long. And I know Karen may have some follow-up here.
But talking about lands and Doyon, what do you see as the priorities going forward? If you were to list two or three, what would?
WALLY CARLO: Well, um, you know, as the businesses we’ve been in, the priority with these is protecting the land and its resources. And we’ve always been good about that.
Even though I told you that we have nine drill rigs. We have one of the -- we just put in operation last year, it’s the biggest, uh, land rig in the world, in the continental US and probably in the world.
But there’s -- we -- it was designed and engineered with all safety as a top concern. Not only for workers, but for the environment. Where you had to have in the past a lot of roads, a lot of big pads to drill off of, and more pads, so it reduced the footprint enormously just with that one rig.
That rig that was just put into commission. It took three years. But from one -- from one pad, you could reach out a long ways. And like I said, just reducing the footprint.
But I also know that we -- we need to really -- I think with this rig, too, we -- we -- we’re helping with the climate change.
Climate change is a priority. So we have to look at opportunities, other opportunities that can reduce the carbon footprint also that’s being produced.
And the -- I know the need for oil is -- we’re -- the need is more than what’s you could find. But at the same time, we also have to look at opportunities or investments that reduce the carbon footprint to help slow down the climate change. ’Cause if it keeps going at this pace, this world doesn’t have long to live. BILL SCHNEIDER: Hm.
WALLY CARLO: By the way, I believe in, you know, development, but as long as it’s responsible development.
I know everything we use, from the contacts I have in my eyes to the shorts I wear, probably one of the base products is a petroleum product. The phone I’m talking to you on, it's -- there’s a lot of minerals in that, gold being one of them.
So, uh, it’s hard if you want to -- it’s hard. A lot of deep thinking and doing. A lot of action needs to be done to reverse the trend we’re in today. BILL SCHNEIDER: Right.
WALLY CARLO: Just a -- just a footnote. I have two daughters and one granddaughter and a wonderful wife. Um, my daughter Nikoosh was just about two weeks ago was appointed by President Biden to be one of the commissioners on climate change (appointed to U.S. Arctic Research Commission on April 5, 2022) KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.
WALLY CARLO: So they’re there to make recommendations or give advice to -- that the president could draw on. And one of his top priorities is addressing climate change, and that’s the area my daughter works in.
She’s a neuroscientist, but she -- she works on this climate change. Her husband’s also a neuroscientist. He works for -- the late Bill Allen was partners with Bill Gates. He works for one of their companies.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Wow.
WALLY CARLO: And so. So I -- I don’t take it lightly, ’cause my daughter. I just know my daughter. They hit me over the head, you know.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Our kids keep us honest, don’t they?
WALLY CARLO: Yeah, really. I mean, you know, that’s -- she’s the expert on that. She’s working with people all in these Arctic countries. BILL SCHNEIDER: Right.
WALLY CARLO: From the Arctic countries. In fact, she worked with the US ambassador to the Arctic. When they had the chairmanship. It was -- she was on his right-hand side all through that experience. So.
BILL SCHNEIDER: That’s great. Yeah, Karen, do you have some follow-up questions?
KAREN BREWSTER: I have a couple of clarification questions first. You mentioned that joint venture construction company that you worked on the Kandik? WALLY CARLO: Yes.
KAREN BREWSTER: And you -- was it A-S-C?
WALLY CARLO: AIC.
KAREN BREWSTER: AIC. So what does that stand for?
WALLY CARLO: Uh, Alaska International Construction, I think it is. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok.
WALLY CARLO: The former -- the owner used to be Neil Bergt.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, he was the Markair guy, right? WALLY CARLO: Yes.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, ok. I just wanted to make sure we got that -- WALLY CARLO: Yep. KAREN BREWSTER: -- acronym and name right.
Um, the other thing, I -- you know, this net operating losses, NOL thing, is really confusing for those of us who aren’t in the business world. That -- so some other corporation paid Doyon cash that then somehow benefitted their corporation?
WALLY CARLO: Yeah, they lighten their tax burden by giving us cash for all of the net losses.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, that just doesn’t make sense to me how that all works, but I guess it’s somewhat magic money.
WALLY CARLO: Well, it’s money that -- like, Doyon expended, put into the ground, uh, went through the trouble of finding a world class mine that there was a mor -- not a moratorium, but it was banned. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
WALLY CARLO: Asbestos, you know, after all the work was done.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right. So they’re basically paying your debt. The other company. Campbell’s Soup -- WALLY CARLO: Yeah, they’re -- KAREN BREWSTER: -- basically paid the debt of lost income?
WALLY CARLO: Well, it wasn’t -- it wasn’t -- at that time it wasn’t debt. It was money that we already put out. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
WALLY CARLO: It was -- it was paying for the loss. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok. WALLY CARLO: That we took because they banned that -- that asbestos.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right. And now, do -- you mentioned that they changed -- they put in the law to help the Native corporations, so is this something that only Native regional corporations can do to sell their net operating losses, or can other companies do that around the world?
WALLY CARLO: Oh, no. It was just a -- it was an exception for the Alaska Native corporations.
And you gotta look at it, too, as it was a -- this settlement was the first of its kind. And it was kind of -- it was an experiment. BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm.
WALLY CARLO: They didn’t expect us really to last this long, but we were able to manage to be where we’re at today.
BILL SCHNEIDER: And I think you had told me that that’s the reason why you eat so much Campbell Soup.
WALLY CARLO: Oh, yeah. In fact, as you mention it, I’ve got some heating up on this pellet stove. It'll be my lunch. It’s Campbell’s Soup, uh, rice, chicken with wild rice.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, so that goes full circle. Now you’re helping Campbell’s Soup by, um, buying lots of soup. WALLY CARLO: Absolutely.
KAREN BREWSTER: Now do -- do the corporations still have the ability to do the net operating loss?
WALLY CARLO: Oh, no. That was just a one-time -- one-time thing. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, ok.
WALLY CARLO: ’Cause, you know, through no fault of their own, there was a lot of these losses.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right, that makes sense.
WALLY CARLO: Because -- yeah, just because of the learning curve.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right. So it was a way to -- to, as you say, to help everybody out and get back on solid ground again and start over. WALLY CARLO: Yeah. Right.
KAREN BREWSTER: And did Senator Stevens help with that?
WALLY CARLO: Yeah, Senator Stevens, uh, Don Young, and uh, who the heck was it? So this was, oh, I think Reagan was in at that time.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, it would’ve been in the '80’s, you said, right?
WALLY CARLO: Yeah, ’86. It was the Tax Reform Act.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I’m thinking that Frank Murkowski might’ve been the senator? WALLY CARLO: Oh, he might’ve been. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Anyway -- WALLY CARLO: That makes sense.
KAREN BREWSTER: It was an interesting strategy. And it sounds like it was successful. The corporations used it to their benefit. Took advantage of it in a good way.
WALLY CARLO: Oh, yeah. We -- well, too, we had -- yes. And we had a lot of really sharp young leaders from all areas of the state that put this -- were able to take advantage and get a land claims settlement.
Who knows, if that didn’t happen, uh, the state would have be -- end up with all the -- all the land. The biggest selection, all the prime land. And the federal government. And the Native people would have nothing.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Well, we’re glad it all worked out. And --
WALLY CARLO: Yeah, I am, too. But like we said, we still have to work on those resources that’s being depleted. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm. WALLY CARLO: And the carbon print.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Anything else, Karen?
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, only sort of related to that about the corporate structure of the Native corporations that was set up and their need to develop resources as an income source, and how that reconciles with the traditional lifestyle of living off the land and subsistence?
WALLY CARLO: Oh, yes. We -- it’s a real -- it’s a balancing act, for sure. And we need both. You know, without -- without harming the environment or our resources.
KAREN BREWSTER: So how do you do that? How do you make -- get that balance?
WALLY CARLO: Well, you have to take into consideration, you know, all the resources, from timber to fish, waterfowl, air, all those things.
And, you know, that’s -- that's actually in our mission statement. You go to Doyon, Limited, you google it, it’s in our mission.
Yeah. Make sure, uh, our lifestyle, traditions, cultures is at the forefront. Our languages. The health and well-being of our shareholders just covers it. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Um-hm. Well, this has really been very good. And Wally, I really appreciate you taking the time to do this interview with us.
I think listeners will find -- find it fascinating, particularly some of that early history. The families, uh, and their relations. There was information in there that isn’t readily available in some of the written sources.
And your work with Doyon over the years and, um, some of the things you’ve tried to do that have made a contribution.
So thank you very much for taking the time to do this.
WALLY CARLO: Yeah, well, I appreciate it. I think it’s a -- you know, it’s a duty on my part.
I’m in the latter stages of my life. I’m nearly 76, but I’m kinda carrying -- trying to carry on traditions of not only my grandparents, but parents.
And my daughter, she always speaks highly of saving the world and trying to give back to the Native people. BILL SCHNEIDER: Um-hm.
WALLY CARLO: She’s a tribal member of Tanana, and she always mentions that. She mentions she’s a Yukon Athabascan first. And this girl is -- I’m really proud of her. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, well --
WALLY CARLO: She’s carrying on the tradition and educating a lot of people.
KAREN BREWSTER: That’s wonderful, Wally. You’ve done a great job of carrying on that tradition.
And also, you and your parents were so generous to share it with us non-Natives. And help us learn and understand, so --
I found it really, um, helpful, you know, hearing about those early days and what you guys went through. I think it’s really important for the next generation to understand how tough it was in those early days and what you guys had to go through.
So thank you very much.
WALLY CARLO: Well, it’s people like you guys that, uh, really help us. And it’s through people not being educated on where we come from. And so, you know, it’s kind of -- it’s our duty to educate them. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm. BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah.
WALLY CARLO: So we -- so those -- so we could live together. BILL SCHNEIDER: Exactly.
WALLY CARLO: You know? And respect each other for --