Margaret "Margie" Brown was interviewed on December 14, 2022 by William Schneider, R. Bruce Parham, Karen Brewster, and David Ramseur via Zoom. Margie was in Anchorage, Alaska. Bill and Karen were in separate locations in Fairbanks, Alaska. Bruce Parham was at his home in Anchorage, and David Ramseur was at his winter home in Palm Springs, California. In this interview, Margie talks about working for Cook Inlet Regional Corporation (CIRI) on the selection and acquisition of lands as part of the Cook Inlet Land Exchange. This was a landmark land exchange between CIRI, the State of Alaska, and the federal government for CIRI to get its land entitlement as determined by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. Margie talks about specific land selection cases, lawsuits, oil and gas royalty issues, how land was valued and conveyed, revenue sharing with other Native corporations, and obtaining lands "outside of the region." She discusses the stresses early young Native leaders dealt with, assistance CIRI received from members of Congress, and other key CIRI employees involved with the land entitlement and land exchange issues.
Digital Asset Information
Project: Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act
Date of Interview: Dec 14, 2022
Narrator(s): Margaret "Margie" Brown
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider
Transcriber: Karen Brewster
People Present: Karen Brewster
After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.
Introduction and interview logistics
Family background and growing up in Takotna, Alaska
Her parents' education, and moving to Oregon
Her education, and looking for work after college
Working for Calista land department
Getting a job at Cook Inlet Regional Corporation (CIRI)
Importance of education
Implementing the Cook Inlet Land Exchange (T&C)
Background history of the land exchange
Obtaining the Kenai gas field lands
Sharing revenue under ANCSA Section 7I
Selection of oil and gas producing lands near Swanson River
Proud of her accomplishments as a young woman
"Out of region" land selections (ANCSA Section 12C), and bidding on federal properties outside of Alaska
Examples of property outside of Alaska, CIRI use of legislative process, and uniqueness of ANCSA
Economic impacts and future of Alaska Native regional corporations
Early challenges for corporations, and role of young leaders
Role of members of Congress in Cook Inlet Land Exchange, and dealing with courts and federal agencies
Land conveyance process, and the Alaska Native Claims Appeal Board (ANCAB)
Maintaining the intent of ANCSA and their land rights
Acquisition and development of Beluga coal fields
Role of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and Senator Scoop Jackson in development and passage of ANCSA
Opposition from the State of Alaska and business community
Importance of Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall, and the land freeze
Dealing with the pressure of the job
Terms and Conditions (T&C) of the Cook Inlet Land Exchange
Other key people she worked with
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After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.
DAVID RAMSEUR: I'm here mostly for purposes of introduction, and certainly will listen in, but I don't intend to ask a lot of questions unless I see that something needs to be clarified. But our primary principal on this project is Will Schneider up in Fairbanks. He's a UAF professor emeritus historian and the principal guide -- principal author of "The ANCSA Guide."
And then Bruce Parham is a former federal archivist in Anchorage. He's been quite active with the Cook Inlet Historical Society, and also is the key player in our ANCSA project.
Karen Brewster, who you see the K there, is mostly on for purposes of getting a good audio recording, and she's also from UAF.
And then Jo Antonson, who helped organize this, is -- just did so for purposes of getting our Zoom together.
MARGIE BROWN: Okay. Now, I don't -- I don't see William Schneider on there. On the screen. DAVID RAMSEUR: Can you say hi?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Hi. Can you hear me now?
MARGIE BROWN: Oh, there you are. Yes.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: I'm hiding in the corner.
MARGIE BROWN: Okay. All right. Oh, there you are. Okay, thank you. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Yeah.
DAVID RAMSEUR: So, Margie, if you don't have questions about logistics or anything, I'll just hand it over to -- to Will to get going.
MARGIE BROWN: All right, well, first, before you start asking me questions, I just want to thank you for trying to tackle this big project.
You know, I've been thinking that we need something that's pretty scholarly to talk about ANCSA, because so much of the teaching that's going on is anecdotal. Like, my interview today will be anecdotal.
And so as we get further and further away from ANCSA and further and further away from things like the Cook Inlet Land Exchange, I really think there needs to be some scholarship around, you know, what an amazing time it was and what it has delivered.
And so to the extent that's what you're about, I really think it's needed.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Well, thank you very much, and I really appreciate your making the time to do this interview, and I hope that you're healing up well from your surgery.
MARGIE BROWN: I am. I'm walking a little gingerly in the deep snow here in Anchorage, but I'm -- I'm doing fine, progressing, so I think it'll be successful.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Have to be careful with the ice and snow.
MARGIE BROWN: Yeah, I got a lot of people holding my elbows.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: So what -- what I thought we would do today is I would ask you to talk about your background a little bit. Where you were born and brought up and your parents and early childhood influences.
And then very -- very quickly move to your education and involvement in land claims and CIRI (Cook Inlet Regional Corporation) and your advancement through the CIRI program.
And then focus down on the land swap and the negotiations that you were so critical in making happen.
If that sounds okay, then -- then that's -- that's how we'll proceed today.
Oh, yeah, Karen, today -- Today is the 14th, is that correct? Of December 2022. And we're really pleased that we have a chance to do an interview today with Margie.
And so thank you for taking the time to do this. And -- MARGIE BROWN: You're welcome.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: What we'll ask you to do at the end of this is to sign a release form, which will allow Karen to make this part of the collection up at the Rasmuson Library. So I always tell people, don't say anything on tape you don't want the world to know, but tell us as much as you're willing to tell us.
MARGIE BROWN: Okay. All right.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Well, that's kind of the way -- kind of the way we -- we do that. So if that's all okay with you? MARGIE BROWN: That's fine.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Good. Let's begin then, a little bit with your background. Would you tell us about your background?
MARGIE BROWN: Yes. Well, my maiden name was Twitchell. I was Margie Twitchell, and I was born in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1949 in the old Providence Hospital that stood on the corner of 9th and L Street.
But my folks were living in the village of Takotna at the time, which is in -- across the Alaska Range in central Alaska on the banks of the Takotna River, which is a tributary of the Kuskokwim. And -- but we lived in Takotna.
My folks, Benjamin Twitchell and Bernie (Berntina) Saara Twitchell lived there, and I have -- I have siblings, and we were all there as a family unit.
My father doing subsistence living, was the postmaster, had the general store, had the only diesel generator, so he powered the village with electricity until we went to bed at night, and at which point he turned off the generator and everybody went, I guess, to kerosene or candles after that.
But we were -- I was first taught by missionaries, and then ultimately they became part of the state system. But when my aunt and uncle and their large family moved to Anchorage, they decimated the school population.
Takotna was an old mining town. It had turned mostly to almost a ghost town, a few families and a couple of elderly miners who still lived there.
So when the school population was decimated by the -- my aunt and uncle moving with all of their children, the school closed.
And at that time, the option was for to send -- for my parents was to send me and my brothers and sisters away or to move. And my folks decided that they needed to move.
My father is a Yup'ik man, but he had been to college. Actually graduated ultimately from the University of Washington as a teacher.
In fact, he went to coll -- he walked himself to Fairbanks from western Alaska to finish high school, and went to the University of Fairbanks when it was the mining and agricultural college, I think, in about 1929.
So I believe he's one of the first Yup'ik men to actually graduate from college.
My mother had never gone beyond the 8th grade, and so she wanted to see something outside of Alaska. And together my parents decided to move us to -- out of Alaska.
So they sold everything that we had, the store, our property, the equipment my father took up after my grandfather, who had lived there, and harvested potatoes along the banks of the Takotna River that he could sell commercially.
So he sold his farm equipment, and we basically picked up a station wagon and a travel trailer in Seattle and started looking for a new home.
Went clear across the country and back again to Oregon, where they ultimately settled. And I finished --
Didn't have much of a third grade 'cause I was on the road, but my father was an educator, so we journaled and we saw everything that he could possibly present to us. So I guess I had it. I had a good education, even though I wasn't in formal school.
And -- and then I -- we finished living in Oregon, where my father renewed his teaching certificate and began teaching school.
He taught high school literature and grammar, and that's where I ended up graduating from the uni -- from Oak Ridge High and moving straight on to the University of Oregon, where I got my undergraduate degree.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: And then you went on for a graduate degree, is that correct?
MARGIE BROWN: Well, yes. There was quite a time between my -- my undergraduate degree and my MBA. At the time I -- when I graduated, I had a degree in biology, and had married, had a child, and had moved back to Anchorage. I was the first one of my family to move back to Alaska.
And was here at the passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, which is -- and living in Anchorage, which is why by just sure happenstance, I guess, I enrolled -- got enrolled to CIRI.
So, you know, BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) at that time didn't have a very good way of informing people of how you could enroll. You could enroll where you were living at the time of the passage of the act, you could enroll where you had spent a good deal of your life, or you could enroll where your ancestors came from.
But most of us were asked, what is your address? We gave us -- we gave the -- our Anchorage addresses, and lo and behold, we ended up in CIRI.
So I was here and looking for work. At that time, I was -- I thought, well, with a newly minted degree, I would be able to find some professional work. But the only real places where you could get a biology -- professional biology work was with the Fish and Wildlife Service and the State Department of Fish and Game.
But both of those agencies had a policy that said that entry level was in the field, but they also had a policy that said they wouldn't put women in the field with men.
Therefore, there were no women professional biologists. Or maybe one, but very, very few.
And I just -- even though I had an ally in the Fish and Wildlife Service who tried -- tried so hard to get me to get employment, he finally gave up, and he said he just couldn't -- he couldn't get through the red tape.
But he was aware of this new program at Calista where there was going to be an introduction of reindeer herding. And although my -- on my -- on my paternal side, I have this Yup'ik heritage, on my maternal side, I'm a descendant of Saami reindeer herders that were brought into the state in 1898.
And so he knew that, and he said, "Well, you know, you're descended from reindeer herders, maybe you would like to go and, you know, work on this reindeer project in Calista?" And so I said, "Yes, fine. That'll be fine."
And so I got started in two weeks time, showed up at Calista, and they said, "Oh, sorry, the reindeer project's gone. We're not doing that."
And I said, "Oh, I really need work. I'm sorry about that, I need work." And they said, "No, no, we don't want you to go anywhere. We want you to work in our land department 'cause we have this huge job of helping our Calista villages select lands under Section Twelve." Which would be Section 12A and 12B of ANCSA.
And he said, "We -- we need people. We need people who are, you know, Alaska Native. We need people who have college degrees and, you know, we need you to do this work."
And so I spent two years at Calista helping the villages out there make their land selections, which was kind of a phenomenal thing.
Ultimately, we'll get to college, but it was a -- it was a phenomenal work, because we brought in representatives from all of the villages and it were -- there were basically tutorials.
What is a deed? What is a land selection? You know what does the -- What is the board of directors? How -- how is this all going to work?
Because people, particularly from rural Alaska, had no concept of those kind of things. You know, they had their fishing camps and they kind of knew where they were to go at which time of year and who was fishing where and all of that.
But this idea of some kind of paper that you would have to make a selection, and then you would get some kind of paper that said you owned it, and then you had to be a member of this corporation. It was just so completely foreign to them.
But we got through it and Calista -- they thought Calista would be the last region, and would miss all the deadlines. But Calista was almost the first in and (missed?) no deadline and almost -- almost to -- almost no conflict of overlapping selections.
Because, you know, there's lots of villages that are close by, they'll have overlapping withdrawals. So we had to negotiate with all those villages to make sure that there were no overlapping selections that, you know, they wouldn't cause a problem with conveyance and --
But after a couple of years at Calista and getting through all of that, I really felt like I had -- had reached my potential there.
They were really looking for people who were raised in the region, Yup'ik speaking, which I'm not, you know, to lead the corporation. And I just really felt that I had contributed what I was going to be able to contribute.
And, in the meantime, I had been following CIRI and what was going on 'cause that's where I was enrolled. And I realized that they were in having a lot of problems making their land selections.
And so I went over to CIRI and asked for a job and they gave me one immediately.
So in 1976, I moved on to CIRI and I worked there until -- you know, until -- a number of years, and in -- and realized I really needed additional education.
And so I went back and got my MBA. Because, if nothing else, you know, the MBA gave me the language, the language of business.
So that was my -- that was my additional education, was to go to get an MBA. But that happened many years after I had been at CIRI. Bill Schneider: Hm. Wow.
MARGIE BROWN: So took a little hiatus and went back to school.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: This is really terrific. You're doing a great job. This is wonderful.
MARGIE BROWN: Well, you know, I credit my education, really, to my parents. You know, they -- they were big believers.
My grandfather was quite well known in the birding world and the natural world. His name was Adams Hollis Twitchell. He had moved from -- from Vermont and had established himself in western Alaska as an expert in -- in sort of the natural world around him.
People like Nelson and other big anthropologists and people, you know, studying the Arctic would seek him out to get his knowledge of the Arctic.
So he -- he was very much a believer in education and passed that on to my father, who went through a lot of sacrifice to get himself educated and on to college.
And so it was -- it was -- they were -- you know, it was never like "you are going to go to college." It was just expected. We knew it as children, we were expected. And our job was go to school and get good grade so we could get scholarships.
Because, you know, the family was single income, a teacher, younger children at home. There was no way that they were going to be able to, you know, pay, even back then, pay for tuitions for college.
So our job was really to do well enough to get scholarships to put us through school. And so, that's what we did.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Yeah. So you arrived in 1976 at CIRI?
MARGIE BROWN: Yes.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: At that time, am I correct, that the settlement had taken place in terms of the land swaps, but they hadn't -- and fully negotiated it?
MARGIE BROWN: Hadn't -- hadn't been implemented, because -- Particularly because of lawsuits. So, yes, when I arrived in 1976, there wasn't any work being done on the land exchange.
It had been negotiated in 1975, had been then clarified a little later. Clarifications were mostly typos in the legal descriptions and things like that.
I mean, the document is pages and pages long. And so there was -- there were a lot of those kind of things that had to be clarified.
And that was done in October of 1976, which is why this 30 year -- I guess you've got this 30 year thing that I had produced when I was the CEO of CIRI. Had -- had to be clarified.
But there were lawsuits, particularly by a man named Galliett (Harold H. Galliett, Jr.), who sued because of the state's participation. And so we had to get through -- and Hammond (Governor Jay Hammond) was, you know -- was enjoined from signing on behalf of the state.
And so, we had to get through -- we had to actually go clear to the Supreme Court, where they, I think, just refused to take the case. And then the whole thing sort of fell into place.
So it wasn't until March 1978 that all of the conditions precedent had been met. And there were two or three of them in the exchange documents itself that had be done.
So, yes, we were sort of at a standstill, and I was kind of new to the Cook Inlet Land Exchange, so I busied myself reading it, for one, and trying to understand all of the provisions.
But also recognizing that we were going to be able to make selections from the State of Alaska, understanding in those state -- what they're called state pools -- the status.
I knew, by the time we got the go, I knew virtually who owned every acre within Cook Inlet. I mean it -- And to the -- And it really, in the end, you know, was why we ended up being so successful, because -- 'cause, we just knew every acre and whatever -- whatever acre was available that we thought was best for us, we made a selection.
So -- But can I just back up and give you a little history on what I understand is how we got to this three way exchange? WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Sure.
MARGIE BROWN: I thought that might help. So Cook Inlet was owed about 2.25 million acres of subsurface and about 1.25 million of surface under ANCSA.
And ANCSA -- the provision of ANCSA that really is important, it says that those lands are to be of like and similar character to those lands that Alaska Native people originally used.
And so when the withdrawals came down for Cook Inlet, it became very clear that we were at a severe disadvantage, because there had been a lot of federal withdrawals.
There was the Kenai Moose Range. Ultimately, become the refuge on the Kenai Peninsula (Kenai National Wildlife Refuge). Big military installations. There had been homesteading on the Kenai, so those were all patented to individuals. The State of Alaska had received some patents.
And so when you look at the low lying like and similar character lands, there were a lot of them that were already gone in other people's hands.
And so the early board of directors felt that that was unfair. That CIRI could never survive with the withdrawals that we got. Which were basically on the west side of Cook Inlet, up on the Talkeetna Mountains, and what -- what has been described as mountaintops and glaciers.
And so the early board of directors of CIRI decided that that would not be acceptable, and that the company could not actually survive if it were just left with those lands. In spite of the court saying, "Oh, yeah, well, there's minimum potential under all that ice, you're going to be fine."
CIRI board didn't believe that, and so they began -- they -- And then State of Alaska cut a deal with the Secretary of Interior, Morton, Rogers Morton, to get their lands.
So here we have CIRI desperately trying to get a withdrawal that makes sense. The State of Alaska, with its now 105 million acres of selections, cutting a deal with the feds about their withdrawals without even contacting CIRI or having CIRI involved in negotiations.
So, I mean it was just -- The cards were just set against CIRI. And, so there were a series of lawsuits, you know, against the state and against the Interior Department about the inadequacy of these withdrawals.
Ultimately, there had been a settlement proposed with the federal government that allowed CIRI to basically get lands on the Kenai Peninsula, including the Swanson River oil field.
And -- but CIRI would have to cut its entitlement in half and only take half of what it was entitled under ANCSA.
So CIRI considered this, the board considered this. Thought maybe they would take it, but they went back and found out it had been withdrawn.
And the board had second thoughts about it anyway, because one of the tenants that the early board of directors said is that when we get a settlement and when the land committee goes out and makes its negotiations, the key is that we have to have full entitlement. However you find it, we need full entitlement.
But this whole idea of CIRI getting the Swanson River field alerted the State of Alaska and they freaked out, because the way the royalties worked, they were getting 90% of the federal royalties.
So all of a sudden now we've got the State of Alaska pitching a fit, we've got, you know, this tentative land deal in the tank. We've got the CIRI board saying, "Hey, we want a different deal. We want to have a full entitlement. We can't accept only half of our entitlement."
And so the whole discussion now began around a three way deal. Because, ultimately, the obligation was the federal government's to find CIRI's appropriate entitlement.
But because that alerted the State of Alaska to it, they said, "Well, we want in. If you're carving up a region, we got to have a say too."
And so, ultimately, we ended up with the three way deal, which included a full entitlement for CIRI, but some of that coming from state lands that had not already been patented, that were just selected or tentatively approved federal lands.
And half of our 12C entitlements, which is one of the big entitlements for regions, taken out of the region. Out of CIRI.
So we could go to our neighboring regions, Doyon, Calista, after their villages and after their regional selections and pick up whatever dregs that were left. But that was how the entitlement was going to be fulfilled.
We were also given the ability to take federal surplus properties that were not used by the federal government anymore. There were some federal lands within the region that we were able to get.
And ultimately there was cobbled together a way for CIRI to get its full entitlement, and involving the state and state selections and federal lands and surplus properties and all of our land -- half of our 12C outside the regional boundaries.
And that's why a thing has ended to be up so large, 'cause it is, I think, one of the largest land exchanges probably in the history of this country. And it is so complicated.
One, because it's got three parties involved with all their interests, and from various different kinds of entitlements CIRI is picking and choosing and getting its land entitlement. So it ultimately became a lot bigger and a lot more complex than people had envisioned.
And it was a -- it was sort of the framework. And that is where I entered the picture. With this framework there, stalled in courts, getting ready to go.
And then, of course, in March 1978, we got the word from the federal government that all of the conditions precedent had been met and we were good to start our selection process. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Yeah. Wow.
MARGIE BROWN: Any of that makes sense?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: I'm just trying to think about the particular lands that you did get and how those proved to be economically very viable for you. Perhaps you could talk about that?
MARGIE BROWN: Yes. So, first of all, we had to get lands from the State of Alaska from these pools, which included the Beluga pool. Had a lot of coal resources on the Kenai Peninsula.
And there was a Chickaloon pool and the Kashwitna pool. And we were selecting half a million acres from the State of Alaska.
So in the process of making those selections, we found, as I said, knowing every parcel of state land that was available, that there were lands in and around the Kenai gas field. And we made a selection of those lands in the Kenai gas field.
And the State of Alaska had put in a whole procedure for approving our selections. So we had -- we developed a form where there was a process where they had to notice in the paper four weeks in the -- in, I think, the Fairbanks paper, the Anchorage Times and the Daily News -- lands that were going to go to CIRI. And they had to do that once a week, four weeks.
And then the lands would go to BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and then BLM would have 60 days to look at 'em and then they would -- if they approve, they would convey it to CIRI.
So we went through this process with the state. Every selection we -- Almost every selection we made, early on, was every 40 acres here and there and everywhere, 'cause it was kind of a patchwork, was critical habitat. It's critical habitat for something.
And so we just finally said, you know, "We -- we have got to have a better understanding of how this process is going to be, because we can't have every single acre that we're selecting critical habitat."
So we worked with Mike Smith, who was the, I think, the Assistant Commissioner of Natural Resources, and we figured out a process that could go through all of these state agencies and get -- get approval for conveyances.
And so when we found the Kenai gas field lands available, we made a selection. It went out to the minerals -- State of Alaska Minerals Department. They didn't have any problem. They didn't know. I think they just didn't know.
And, ultimately, four weeks of notice, then they decided, no, the notice was not quite right. So they did another four weeks.
They went to BLM for a 60 days review. BLM said fine, convey it to us. And so we ended up with oil and gas interests in the Kenai field through that process.
Now, the -- when the state found out they asked for the lands back. I was summoned to Juneau to meet with Commissioner LeResche. He had, in the meantime, had the AG (attorney general), State AG, look at the conveyances to see if they were valid.
And the AG said, "They are so valid. They filled out every -- Every -- every step of your process, they did. And so -- it was your process. So the only way to get these lands back to ask for them back."
And, you know, I just said, "You know, I'm sorry, I -- I can't do that."
And -- and in the end, though, I think it ultimately was a benefit to the state, because as soon as we got those oil and gas royalties back, I realized that we were really getting really underpaid our royalties, and the state hadn't been watching this.
So we had two big producers, UNOCAL (Union Oil Company of California) and Marathon, producing gas from the Kenai gas field. UNOCAL was in a non-arm's length transaction providing gas to the urea plant, paying nineteen cents an MCF (MCF stands for 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas) in a non-arm's length transaction.
Marathon was taking its gas and creating LNG (Liquified Natural Gas), sending it to Japan, selling it for over six dollars an MCF in Japan. And even when you do a net back for the transportation costs and the cost to produce LNG, the royalty rate should have been a value closer to three dollars an MCF, as opposed to eighteen cents.
And so -- and -- and all of the gas in Cook Inlet was all on this low royalty rate, because the State of Alaska had all these leases that had these most favored nations kind of clause.
And what it did is, nobody wanted to raise royalty rates, because then it would raise royalty rates on the entire Cook Inlet. And so by those most favored nations clause actually depressed the value.
And it took a private enterprise like CIRI going, "You know what? This is really -- This is really unfair. These -- these royalties are not appropriate."
And so we sued and tried to negotiate, but ultimately, you know, producers know, producers were pretty -- pretty resistant to just voluntarily saying, "Oh, yeah, you're right."
We got the Department of Interior involved, ultimately, with Marathon. We had to -- The Department of Interior had to issue a tentative public notice in the federal register that Marathon was not a valid -- was not an appropriate producer, because they're inappropriate production -- or payment of royalties that would -- would have excluded them from all future participation with the federal government.
And so, at that point, you know, the cards were on the table that they had to settle. And so we -- we did got -- we got significant settlement monies from both Marathon and UNOCAL.
And from -- from back -- you know, back in time, too, because, you know, we -- some of the things we went back to 1971, some went back to 1976.
So we were able to get retroactive payments as well on some of these resources, which I would say were all shareable under Section 7I.
So CIRI paid out hundreds of millions of dollars very early on, on Section 7I, which was so critical first for CIRI at that time, because, you know, we were a very young company and didn't have -- didn't really have more than two nickels to rub together.
And so these early monies were so critical to the company, but also to the larger distribution within Alaska. It kept doors open.
You know, Tom Hawkins, who was a head of Choggiung, which is the Bristol Bay Village Corporation, would often tell me those early monies kept their lights on. That these early distributions were so critical to the whole -- to the whole ANCSA structure.
Because, of course, it went to regional corporations and it went down to village corporations and it was -- was really, really key.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Yeah, I want to ask you more about that long term impact, because it seems to me that the Native regional corporations have become drivers of the state economy in many ways, and have returned money to the state in a way that perhaps wasn't the case by other companies in the past.
But could I back up and ask a silly question? MARGIE BROWN: Sure.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: So on the Kenai gas fields and the Swanson River activity, was -- were you selecting land next to development that was taking place there?
MARGIE BROWN: Well, the Kenai -- the Kenai field was already in production and as I said, it was UNOCAL and Marathon -- WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Yeah. MARGIE BROWN: -- doing their own thing, selling to themselves or selling LNG in Japan.
So that was -- that was a producing field, and so we basically acquired interest in a producing field. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Okay.
MARGIE BROWN: Now the oil and gas story is a little -- is a little different story. Swanson River has been producing since 1957. So that was a producing field.
And the negotiators of the terms and conditions, on the state's request, had put CIRI's selections all around Swanson River, but not in a pooling area.
So if you're familiar with oil and gas and how production is, when there's a discovery, there is a pooling area that is set by the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and people, the oil and gas leaseholders within that pooling area, share the royalties based on their percentage of the pooled area. That's the way traditional oil and gas has always been done.
So CIRI's selections went all around the pooling area, because we weren't to get within the pooling area. But when I looked at ANCSA, and I looked at that selection, and I read Section 14G -- and this is where fresh eyes really made a difference.
14G of ANCSA says that where there is joint ownership between a Native corporation and the federal government, then the revenues from that will be shared based on the percentage that each owns in that particular lease.
Nothing about a pooling area. It says where the federal government and the Native corporation jointly own a lease that's producing revenues, they will share those revenues based on their percentage of the lease.
So here you have these leases all going into the Swanson River pooling area with a lot of lands in the leases outside the pooling area.
And so I said, "Well, there's no authority for them not to -- not to adhere to Section 14G. That we should be getting our percentage share based on each lease. That that lease is earning revenue."
So if there was a little bit in the pooling area and a lot of it outside, we may have been getting 90% of those. Or if there were revenues or if there were lot within the pooling area and we just had a little tiny bit of that lease, we would get a smaller percentage, but we would get our percentage based on the actual reading of Section 14G.
And so I took that to the USGS (United States Geological Survey) at that time, which is the entity that was dealing with this, and I said, "Under what authority do you have to not pay us those royalties based on our percentage of ownership of the lease?"
And they determined there was no authority for them to do anything else but to adhere to Section 14G. And so they issued instructions to the leaseholders and set out what our percentage was for each of those leases.
And then our royalties began to come in from the Swanson River field. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Right.
MARGIE BROWN: Does that makes sense? I know, it's -- It's a little -- In fact, even within CIRI, I would try to -- I'd have a piece of paper and I go, "This is the pooling area and this is CIRI's lease. And so we own this, and there's big old lease. We own this little bit." And it was -- because it was just such a different thing from the pooling concept, so people didn't -- when they negotiated the terms and conditions, I guess nobody -- nobody read or didn't have in mind what 14G would say.
But, you know, ultimately, in the end, that trumps -- you know, that Section 14G of ANCSA trumped everything else.
And so we ended up, I mean, roughly about 35% of the royalties from Swanson River. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Wow.
MARGIE BROWN: Also all shareable. So, you know, this is why I say, and you probably read in this, where the T&C (abbreviation for the Cook Inlet Land Exchange) was such a great framework for the selection, but the -- for the settlement of CIRI's ANCSA. But its implementation is really what drove value.
And it was just getting oil and gas very early on in producing fields. Now CIRI's producing fields, you know, they're -- they're in decline. Serious decline. As all oil fields will ultimately be. And others have picked up the pace, NANA and Arctic Slope.
But there's no doubt in my mind that these early on successes, where we distributed it all, was just really key to keeping people's doors opened.
And so I feel -- I feel very proud, actually, about the accomplishment and the ability to first of all recognize that there's opportunity, but also to -- to pursue it through agencies.
And you'll have to remember, you know, I was a pretty young, inexperienced woman at that time. You know, at 26 years old, I was making CIRI's land selections, so it's -- it's --
And I think back, I think if I knew how critical that would be to Alaska Native people and -- and to CIRI and to the larger Alaska Native community, I think I would have a lot of trepidation.
But, you know, being young and inexperienced, and -- it's like, you know, what the heck?
In some ways, I think it was a benefit, because it was just this young person coming in trying to negotiate with the state and feds and all, and everybody was trying to be helpful. And ultimately it -- it worked out.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: God, that really is an amazing story.
MARGIE BROWN: And then -- then wait 'til you get to our "out of region" story.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Yeah, yeah.
MARGIE BROWN: So if you remember the T&C, half of it was to be taken out of our 12C -- entitlement was to be taken "out of region," but only after the regions had made their selections. The villages within those regions had made their selections.
And everybody at that time had these huge overselections, because they were all trying to figure out how to get more knowledge about their land so they could get the best land. So there was this enormous overselection problem all over the state.
And, of course, regions like Doyon said "No, you can't come in our region." And so we were basically had a half a -- half of our 12C tied up in a provision that -- that nobody wanted us in their region. And so how are we going to actually fulfill that entitlement?
I was walking with our -- with Monroe Price, who was our lawyer at the time in DC, with Steve Hillard who was my colleague. Steve and I are walking down the street and we go, "Why don't we convert this entitlement to a dollar amount and then get surplus properties outside of Alaska?"
You know, we had been here and there, the Wrangell Institute and, you know, a few properties here and there. Some -- where the Talkeetna Lodge is now -- top the Alaska Lodge. That was FAA property. We got -- We were able to get that under this excess federal surplus property provision.
So we were kind of familiar with excess and surplus federal properties. We said, "Well, why don't we just convert it to an account that we could get properties outside of Alaska?"
That's the only way we're going to get any value from this "out of region." Because first of all, our neighboring regions didn't want us in there. And secondly, it was only after they had made selections and their villages had made selections. So what were the chances of having any economic value?
And I remember Monroe Price says, "You can't do that." And I said, "Well, why can't we do that?" So we actually did that.
We went to Congress and we persuaded Congress that our account needed to be converted on a dollar basis. The "out of region" was set at $250 an acre, the "in region" was at $500 an acre. And -- and we established ourselves a surplus property account where we could buy -- go to auctions or get federal properties outside the state of Alaska.
At about that time, we -- there was this savings and loan debacle where all these savings and loans were going under. And there was an entity established called the Resolution Trust, which took in all these reasonably good developments where the developers had just gone upside down with their debt.
And the Resolution Trust had to take in all this stuff from these failed savings and loans. And they then ultimately put them out to auction.
And CIRI was able to go to these auctions and use this federal surplus account and acquire properties outside of Alaska.
And, ultimately, we decided since it took us so long to do that, we -- we were able to get what's called a CPI adjustment on that account. So we were -- we were compensated for the fact that it took us so long to get our entitlement.
So it was a -- it was also a phenomenal benefit to the company that was never anticipated in the terms of conditions.
But it was that early board that said, "We got to have, you know, something that resembles full entitlement." That allowed us to then take that what would have been, you know, entitlement that would have no economic value, and it wasn't even close to our shareholders. It would be, you know, in the hinterlands. And turn it into something that was of economic benefit to the shareholders.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Were there some particular properties you want to mention?
MARGIE BROWN: Well, we -- WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Outside of Alaska.
MARGIE BROWN: Yeah, we acquired -- we passed up things like Eisenhower's island off the coast of Florida and the Presidio in San Francisco, thinking that, you know, that -- those are just too much for us to swallow. They would be just too much blowback.
So we ended up with quite a few what's now called luxury town -- luxury apartment buildings, particularly in Cali -- or in Arizona. We ended up with properties in Texas, which mostly have all been now developed and sold off. So those were some of those that we did.
But, you know, we ended up with, you know, about $400 million of properties outside of the state of Alaska that ultimately, you know, we sold at some point and -- and put in the coffers. And so --
It was kind of a -- It was kind of a moment in time, that -- First of all, that we could get -- get that provision. And it had to be modified and extended several times with Congress. So we would maybe have a half a dozen pieces of legislation just dealing with this "out of region" issue. But something like that could never happen again.
In fact, the ANCSA could not, in my view, not even happen now. But, you know, serious provisions could not happen. And some have tried to get something similar to that, but, you know, it's not been -- it's just not the same legislative environment.
And, you know, I've often said that I don't mind somebody having a different agenda than I do, but it's just as long as they have an agenda that you can kind of work with.
And, you know -- But when the agencies started, you know, having people who didn't really have an agenda, didn't really want to do stuff, didn't really want to -- then it just became so much harder to get anything done.
Because if you could recognize somebody's agenda and have it paired up with yours and figure out how to, you know, compromise. Oh my God, compromise. You could really accomplish something. And, of course, it didn't hurt to have Senator Stevens in your camp.
But -- So CIRI's really -- CIRI's really made incredible use of the legislative process to enhance its entitlements and its benefits over the years.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Let me ask one -- one other question and then we'll open it up to the other folks on to ask some questions if they have them.
Just in general terms, what do you think the economic future of the Alaska Native regional corporations is?
MARGIE BROWN: Well, I think it's -- I think it's quite good. I have often said that what we are doing with Alaska Native corporations is reversing a long standing business model in Alaska. It has been --
In the past, people from Seattle coming up and getting our fish, gold going out, oil going out, timber going -- Sealaska's timber going out to Japan that -- You know, a resource extraction state has -- means, for now, since we're not doing any real processing here in the state, it means exporting profits.
I mean, even look at our -- even here in Anchorage, look at our -- or in the state. You know, our local banking family. You know, the Rasmusons, they sold out to Wells Fargo who are aware they -- and shareholders across the country and headquartered in San Francisco or wherever.
Or how about our Carrs grocery store, you know, becoming a Safeway. And so, you know, it's always exporting, exporting, exporting.
But Alaska Native corporations are Alaska Native corporations and nobody is moving their headquarters out of Alaska.
But this -- we early on recognized that this economy in this state is way too small for twelve regional corporations and, you know, 160 village corporations or whatever there are now that we have to go abroad. We have to get out of Alaska to do our business, to grow our business.
And so you have these corporations now who are doing business globally or nationally with huge investments outside the state of Alaska, but the headquarters are still here and the profits are imported back to Alaska. That is a phenomenal change in the dynamics of the economy of this state.
And so I think that they're going to be ke -- they already are key. I mean, when you think about the enterprises that are owned by Alaska Natives here in the state. The employment in the state, The distributions to shareholders.
You know, CIRI has distributed $1.3 billion to its shareholders in its lifetime. 1.3 billion. And it has, you know, assets of a billion roughly.
So I mean that is a major, major influence of -- and money coming back to the state and -- and to its shareholders.
Years ago, very early on when ANCSA was first passed, an oil company executive, I don't -- I don't remember who it was at this time, said very -- it must've been a visionary because he said, "You know, these corporations are going to be the economic powerhouses of the state in the future." And that was said in the '70s.
So, when -- when we were -- we loaned money to Calista to keep them from going bankrupt. And, you know, there was a lot of -- there was a lot of stress early on in those years, because, first of all, ANCSA says you're going to be -- go out and be for profit corporations and give your benefits to your shareholders.
But, you know, most corporations are formed like I -- I make a widget and I go, "You know what? I need some protection. I need some, you know, corporation status and get some financing. If I'm a corporation I can grow. I've got this widget, I'm going to make more widgets."
Well Congress said you go make some money, but it didn't give a roadmap of how you were going to make that money.
And so the very early on, there were a lot of -- a lot of missteps. There were a lot of, you know, things that probably shouldn't have happened.
But to the extent that all these corporations exist sometimes because CIRI, who had resources, loaned money to Calista to keep their doors open, CIRI scrabbling for all these oil and gas lands and trying to get the royalties up so people could survive. You know, that all happened in the first couple of decades after ANCSA.
And it was young people. I mean, I was 26. I'm younger than most of my colleagues at the same level, but by ten years or 15 years. But still in the state, BLM, all the Native regional corporations, there's young people.
And these were young people, basically. And with the environmental groups, too, carving up the state, and knowing that this is a moment in time where the land ownership pattern that we're going to see in Alaska is being set now.
In these -- certainly after ANCSA and certainly after ANILCA (Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act), which, in my view, was just an amendment to ANCSA. So that was in 1980's, 1971 was ANCSA.
So within -- within -- between the '70s and the '80s, really the land status in Alaska was set principally by young people working hard, advancing their own corporate interests or the state's interests or the conservation's interests, all doing that, you know, the best of intentions. And they ended up with basically what we see -- what we see now. What you see now all around the state when you look at who owns what.
It's -- It was -- it was amazing. It was -- it was a time like no other. Where people would come up to the CIRI building and they -- they said they could just feel the energy. It was like the air was like vibrating with just this cadre of young people.
And I tried to do that in this -- in this insert just to give a lot of people credit who had pieces of this. You know, it just wasn't me, it was other people.
Because it was just -- it was just abuzz with energy, with -- with everything as a possible. Everything was possible. Nothing was impossible.
Even though our lawyer said, "Oh, you're never going to get selections out of region." We go like, "Why? Why can't we?" Nothing. Nothing was impossible.
And so that -- that was a deal. That was -- you just had to be there. You just had to be there.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Wow. Well, thank goodness you were there. MARGIE BROWN: You know -- WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: I thank you
MARGIE BROWN: Yeah. Well, I -- I feel -- It was like a blessing. You know, really a blessing, because, you know, I never worked a day as a biologist, and that's what I thought I was going to be.
But, you know, I -- it was like an opportunity that you could -- you could seize. You could walk through that window of opportunity, and, yeah, I didn't -- it wasn't the career I thought I was going to have, but, oh my, oh my, what a career. What a career.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: How about the -- the rest of the folks that are on? Do you have some questions for Margie or some clarifications?
DAVID RAMSEUR: Bruce, go ahead.
BRUCE PARHAM: Okay, I have a few questions. I think you've -- you've really done an incredible job of filling in all the nuances about the T&C agreement. But I do have a few questions.
The two powerful members of Congress that were kind of the allies of the Cook Inlet Region, Incorporated were -- were Lloyd Meeds from the Second Congressional District in Washington, and he was the chairman of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs in the House. And then also Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson.
MARGIE BROWN: Oh yes.
BRUCE PARHAM: Did you have any interactions with either one of those men and how did they help CIRI with its -- with its land problems?
MARGIE BROWN: Well, I think that -- I -- I -- you know, I was -- you know, probably -- it was probably above my pay grade to be dealing with them directly. But, I do think that -- that there was -- there were friends in --
Later it would be Daniel Inouye from Hawaii and others who -- who really sort of took it upon themselves to try to understand the difficulties, particularly the difficulties that CIRI was having.
And I think without those few -- those few people who cared enough to actually listen to people like Andy Johnson or Roy Huhndorf or, you know, the CIRI Land Committee that was negotiating, to hear their story and understand the plight, we never would have had even the basis of the terms and conditions.
And as you know from the timeline, you know, CIRI had to battle through lower courts. You know, getting decisions against them in the lower courts. And it wasn't until later in the process where there just seemed to be this coalescence of -- of willingness to address this issue, both from friends within Congress but also within the Department of Interior.
I think the Department of Interior was getting wind that -- that they needed to do something. They needed to do something to settle this issue.
And so that -- that became kind of the -- the -- the action that was necessary to actually propel this to -- to a conclusion.
BRUCE PARHAM: I had a -- another question. I read early on that there were problems with land conveyance with the Bureau of Land Management, and their problems seem to stem from unsurveyed land and also low staffing. Would you agree with that?
And -- and what was -- how -- why did it take so long to get the land conveyed over?
MARGIE BROWN: Right. Well, first of all, yes, the access lands have to be patented, but, you know, patents take forever. Even now, take forever.
So there had to be basically an understanding, which ended up being a legislative fiat, that there would be this interim step called the interim conveyance, the IC.
And that corporations would be able to get these IC's - interim conveyances - and that would effectively allow them to manage their lands, even though patent would be way in the future.
Because people realized that, first of all, surveys -- they could not -- 44 million acres of lands to be surveyed were going to take, you know. 100 years.
And so there needed to be a mechanism for Native corporations to be actually -- to manage their lands. Be able to issue leases or exploration agreements. And so there was this interim step that was created for this process called the interim conveyance.
Before you had the interim conveyance, you would have a decision to convey from BLM. And it would list the lands that they were preparing to convey, and it would list all of the restrictions to that title.
And that became a big problem too, because the Department of Interior had this very broad view of Section 22G, which was the provision around easements. 22G says -- and around management of lands within a refuge, even if they're going to be conveyed to a Native corporation as if they were in the refuge.
And so there were a lot of problems in those decisions to interim convey. And almost everyone in the early days had to be taken to an entity that was called ANCAB, the Alaska Native Claims Appeal Board.
Most problems with potential federal conveyances go to the Interior Board of Land Appeals, but they created this other thing for ANCSA, this ANCAB board. And almost every ANCAB decision had to be taken to court, because they always -- if -- in -- when Native people's view, not in their favor.
And so there was a real feeling at that time that through administrative fiat that the very intent of Congress was being subverted.
And you can have Congress say one thing, but, you know, when the -- when -- when you're actually dealing with the administrative agencies, it's their rules that really, you know, decide what's going to happen. And those rules were always almost uniformly against Alaska Native corporations.
The easement one was terrible. So there it's supposed to be if you -- if you have Native corporation land here and public land here, then there needs to be a way to get across Native land to public land.
Well, what the Department of Interior decided, is that meant all along the rivers and that, you know, camp sites and total free access along rivers.
People in rural Alaska were saying we can't have these big public easements all along our rivers. This is really meant to go from point A to point B. So there had to be a huge, basically lawsuit over just how do you -- how do you deal with easements. There's a whole issue probably still unsettled about 22G.
And so these decision of interim conveyances, we'd have to pour over them and oftentimes try to negotiate some of these things back, because it would be basically restrictions on our title.
And so, between that -- well, ultimately, we had to get rid of ANCAB. ANCAB was so terrible for Alaska Native people, we finally had to get rid of it. Said we'll just go to court, and -- and so that like there were just huge decisions on every decision to interim convey. Then you got to your interim conveyance and patent would be years in the future. So that -- that was a problem.
And I think I've heard Roy Huhndorf say this, and I kind of agree with him. You know, the first ten years after ANCSA, maybe even more than that, so much of the brainpower of -- within the corporations were dealt with just trying to hang on to what we believed the intent of ANCSA was.
That in the -- in the administration of -- of it, we were always battling against the retraction of rights and retraction rights. And so it took a lot of the brain power of what were very brand new corporations and often very young people, unexperienced people, to -- to battle through that in order to get basically the land in a condition -- title conveyed to us in a condition that was appropriate and within the intent of ANCSA.
And so to the extent it took a while before other business investments were made or whatever, that's because so much of the brain power was just -- and every region -- every region was -- was the same. Every region had their own issues.
So much of the brain power from the CEO on down to people like me in the land department were -- were battling back what felt like the agencies' intent to kind of subvert the intent of ANCSA.
And that has been one of my concerns all along, is that, you know, as we now get -- you know, we're 50 years away, or more than that, from -- from ANCSA, it becomes harder and harder to really discern what the intent was at the time.
When you had people like Senator Stevens and Senator Inouye and others who -- who are very much involved with, you know, what that whole thing should have been.
BRUCE PARHAM: Thank you. I think that's great. I had just one other question and that's -- early on I read about the -- in the newspapers of Anchorage Daily Times about the acquisition of the Beluga coal fields. That seemed to be a big land acquisition.
And how has that worked out as far as development goes and coal as a resource?
MARGIE BROWN: Yes. Well, I don't think that's going to happen in our lifetimes. And it was -- it's one of the things that probably when in hindsight was -- too much emphasis was put on that.
And it was the cause of Harold Galliett's suit against the land exchange. He thought the state was giving away this, you know, 300,000 acres of this very valuable coal resource. And so he held us up from making our selections, and we burned a lot of our entitlement on the Beluga coal field.
And in my view, it's not going to happen in our lifetimes. And I don't know.
We tried -- a couple of times, we've had lessees out there. One took a sample of the coal and took it to Japan for testing and it spontaneously combusted on the ship on the way over. That's not so good.
And then we tried -- CIRI tried, while I was there, to do a process called underground gasification, where you can actually gasify the coal underground and produce gas and leave all the ash underground.
But that has been done in other parts of the country, but uh -- world. But it really hasn't -- it's really not sort of scalable yet. And so my view is that probably is not going to happen.
And now we have -- we're going to have fusion and we're going to have, you know -- so I think it's -- I think it's one of those things that had we to do it all over again, what we know now, it wouldn't have been such a prominent place in the Cook Inlet Land Exchange.
We did create a no -- we did create an -- I -- I was part -- I was there and we -- there was this opportunity to create net operating losses.
And at the time, we were able to sell those losses to other profitable corporations, usually at about twenty-eight to thirty cents on the dollar.
And so we were able to value the coal at its time of conveyance with all this potential that, you know, it's going to be -- you know, that's --
One -- one of the things that I used to say, "It was dirt that burns." But, it also has -- some places has pretty low overburden, so it could possibly, you know, come out of the ground.
So there was a lot of work that was done by, you know, the coal lessees, and we were able to establish a value for that coal.
And then since now it can't be developed, there was basically a loss in value, and we were able to take that loss and sell that loss to -- to a company. I think it was Quaker Oats or somebody like that.
And so we have had some value out of it, but it's not the value that you would anticipate. That the negotiators anticipated of the terms and conditions. So --
So in some ways, that was -- that wasn't as fortuitous as it should have been, but we got a lot of other things in the terms and conditions that were much better than people thought. So I think we're good.
BRUCE PARHAM: Thank you.
DAVID RAMSEUR: Well, I don't want to prolong this too much longer. It's been a fascinating conversation. I was struck by Margie's comments about ANCSA couldn't happen now. And you mentioned about less than cooperative agencies, government agencies.
But is there something more sort of fundamental in the way we conduct our public discourse these days that you think produces a comment like that? Or what --
MARGIE BROWN: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And it's not just ANCSA. It's just getting anything done in Congress is just -- with Congress so -- so divided. And then, you know, to have people sympathetic to a population like Alaska Natives to the extent that they would get 44 million acres of federal land to them through this process, I just don't think that could possibly happen now.
And it only happened because of Scoop Jackson. Somebody had mentioned Scoop Jackson.
Well, you know, my husband was an explorationist for Atlantic Richfield. He was a young geologist that was on the North Slope for the discovery well, and so he knows that, you know, Atlantic Richfield almost went under because of the delay in the pipeline.
And the delay in the pipeline was because there was no settlement of land claims. I mean, as historians, you know this. So there was no treaty signed with Alaska Natives. There were no, you know, x's on treaties and things like that.
And so it became very clear that there were -- there was some legitimacy in these claims for land by aboriginal people in Alaska that had not been settled through the treaty -- treaty process.
And so the pipeline was getting delayed, getting delayed because of all this, and, you know, they had pipes stacked all over, and Atlantic Richfield was a tiny little company, and it was just about ready to go belly up because they couldn't get their pipeline built.
And so Scoop Jackson -- and they went to the Congress and said, "Do something." And Scoop Jackson said, "Okay, I'm going to send out these military guys and people, and we're going to go through with the state of Alaska, and we're going to see how legitimate are these claims."
And so they produced this big book, Alaska Natives And Its Land or something. I have a copy. If you don't have a copy for your archives, you must get it. A big whole thing like that.
And it said, when you get through it, that Alaska Native people, legitimate claim was to 96% of the state of Alaska. And so -- and there's, you know -- and so when you think about 44 million acres, that's paltry compared to 96%. I mean, we should have 350 million.
And so -- So, anyway, that was his -- that was his thing. So he got this big thing that says -- You know -- And it set out the structure. You know, had the villages and went through all the villages, and went through the regions and all of that. So there's clearly some thought already in the constructing of that document in 1968, I believe, that what this settlement might look like.
The other thing it said is that -- because it did mention the 44 million acres. It did said -- say that that would not be enough land for Alaska Native people to continue with their subsistence lifestyle.
That -- that, you know, first of all, the claims were legitimate. That they had not been extinguished. And secondly, they would need a lot of land to continue a subsistence lifestyle.
And with that, he was able to, you know, kind of took a couple of, you know, tries that didn't pass -- didn't get completely done. State of Alaska, you know, trying to be -- you know, doing their skullduggery because, you know, they didn't want it. Um, you know, Alaska businessmen, oh, my gosh, they -- you know, they -- they hated the idea of these Native corporations.
I mean, it took CIRI -- I counted, it took CIRI, like, 20 years before it got a positive opinion piece in the Times. DAVID RAMSEUR: Wow.
MARGIE BROWN: You know, it took like 20 years before they finally said something nice about us. And -- and so, you know, the state -- the state people were -- you know they were trying to sabotage the thing. And, you know, business -- the business people didn't like it.
One of the first proposals, as I understand it, was that for the subsurface, instead of the 7I sharing, that there would be one big subsurface corporation that owned 44 million acres. You know, and that -- that way every Native that was enrolled would be part of this big subsurface corporation for 44 million acres.
Well, the oil companies were going, "Holy smokes, that would be such a powerful -- that would be a huge, powerful corporation." They didn't want that either.
So I just think that there was just so much -- so much resistance at the time that it took these heroes in -- Like Stewart Udall, what a hero to put a land freeze on. I'm sure you've all studied that.
But what an amazing hero to have been able to do that, resist the pressure, keep the land freeze on so, you know -- so oil companies would start bellyaching and mining companies. And, you know, put all of this pressure on Congress.
But, I don't think there's enough cohesive thought in our Congress anymore to really tackle something as -- as complicated as this -- this ended up being.
And -- and it took those people like Scoop Jackson, who said, "Okay, well, get me the document that tells me that this is okay to do it." And that's what that big document did. It said it's okay to do it and get it done.
And, you know, follow the money. The pipeline got built. So were it not for that land freeze --
I saw him in his elder years, and I went up to him and I -- I -- I told him, I said, "You are the hero to me. You are the best hero in the world." He was just, like, so blown away that I remembered him and remembered what he did.
But, you know, when you think -- I mean, David, you would -- you must know what a huge thing he did. Just to say, "Stop. No more federal leases. No more federal anything until this is settled."
And can you imagine the -- can you imagine the pressure that he got?
DAVID RAMSEUR: Yeah. Enormously courageous.
MARGIE BROWN: It was. It was. And he was so -- he was so happy that I, first of all, came from a corporation that resulted from all of his work. But that I even remembered it.
DAVID RAMSEUR: Well, do you have what you need?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Uh, yeah. But I'll give a -- Karen and Jo, do you want to chime in?
KAREN BREWSTER: I have a couple of questions. One, just in response to what Margie just said about the -- the courage and dealing with that pressure. You, in your role at CIRI, faced a lot of those similar pressures and obstacles. And how did you find your way through all that?
MARGIE BROWN: Well, I learned -- Well, thank you for recognizing that, because I -- I've thought a lot about that myself. How -- how did I manage -- how did I manage to get through that?
But, I think it was just being so vested in the mission.
So when we're at CIRI, and I'd like to think it's the same today, you know, it's -- yes, we had great positions, and ultimately we had, you know, compensation that would match. Not at the beginning, I would say.
But it was just -- it just seemed like such an important mission.
And I recognize that it's a big social experiment and it's not happening other places, but, you know, it ends up being kind of like a true testament of self-determination. Which is what Alaska Native people want. Is self-determination.
And so it was always like not taking -- we're just not going to take no for an answer. That this mission is too important. You know, not to me or the people working at CIRI, but to the shareholders, because our shareholder base at that time, was, you know -- they are not -- they're not people of wealth. And, you know, that's throughout Alaska.
Ultimately, in the end, this is about Alaska Native shareholders. And so it just became like -- like the mission was everything, and -- and have -- going off the battlefield in defeat was just not acceptable.
And so a lot of times, it's just persistence and determination. I don't know why --
David, I told you about the article that was written about me as I retired from CIRI that's called "Diligence and Determination," or something.
And I think that's -- that's -- at the end, the -- the interviewer says, "How do you want to be remembered?" And I said, "Well, I just hope people remember that I was vested in the mission and I just gave it all I had." And I hope they remember me for that. So that's -- that's --
You can do a lot if you don't take no for an answer. I mean, we got -- we got wind farm out on Fire Island from that same determination. Had "no" every step of the way until they were up and running. But anyway did that answer your question, Karen?
KAREN BREWSTER: Yes, it did. Thank you very much. And I -- just one point of clarification. You were using the acronym for the settlement, T --
MARGIE BROWN: T&C, which is the -- the -- Its official name is the Terms and Conditions for the Land Consolidation and Management in the Cook Inlet Region, I think.
And it just got so long that we just called it the T&C or the Cook Inlet Land Exchange.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.
MARGIE BROWN: It's the Terms and Conditions for Land Consolidation and Management in the Cook inlet Area. Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. That is a mouthful.
MARGIE BROWN: Yes. And, you know, the state -- This is not really well known, but, you know, the state -- for all the state's grousing about, you know, the oil and gas interests that came to CIRI and the oil and gas royalties from Swanson River that came to CIRI, what people don't really understand is that if you look through the section of the Terms and Conditions, or the T&C, that deals with what the state got, they got 22 townships of land outside of their 105 million acre entitlement. And that's basically created the Wood Tikchik State Park.
So, you know, they -- they did okay in this exchange. And so, they -- they -- they wanted in and they got some benefit for coming in, and we got benefit from them being in as well, so --
And ultimately, you know, it is three big landowners. The federal government and CIRI and the State of Alaska in the Cook Inlet area. So it makes sense that we would have a three way deal.
As complicated as it made it, it's -- it was necessary to sort of settle all the issues that's between the parties.
KAREN BREWSTER: I had just one last question, Bill, and if Margie still has the energy. MARGIE BROWN: Sure.
KAREN BREWSTER: You mentioned that this was -- all of these efforts, it was not just you, but there were other people involved.
And I didn't know if there was anybody who you wanted to talk about, who you worked with and was important, and maybe mentored you or -- ?
MARGIE BROWN: Right. Well, you know, of course, I worked for Roy (Huhndorf) for all those times, so, you know, what a -- he was not involved too much in the implementation, but clearly in the negotiation of the T&C, so he gets credit for that.
I worked with several people who -- Kirk McGee, who was with me in the land department. Frank Klett (former senior vice president of CIRI), who had a lot to do with the surplus properties. You know, or --
And I was hired by Carl Marrs, but, you know, he had left the company for a short time and I was -- I was in charge of the department after -- after he left, so -- But I think those were the -- the main ones.
And like I say, I have to sort of give a lot of credit to -- to the early board of directors to actually hanging in there. And then to Roy for allowing very energetic people to sort of press the envelope and -- and try to do more than with what we -- what we were given. And --
And, so he -- he often talks about going home at night and being so tired and his wife asking, "How come you're so tired?" And he says, "Well, I've got all these crazy people working for me. They're just running me ragged."
So we -- I gave him credit for, first of all, allowing that energetic group of young people to just do what they're going to do.
You know, when -- when I was put in charge of the land department, Roy brought up -- and our executive vice president at the time, George Kriste, brought up this man, Frank Klett, who had arrived in the office to sort of look at how we were doing with the selections and dealing with the implementation. And I didn't even know he was coming.
I said, "Well, who are you? And why are you here in my office?" And turns out that Roy and George, they had these young people in the land department who wanted to know what in the world was going on.
And, ultimately, in the end, you know, Frank became part of our team, but his response to George and to Roy was, you know what, don't mess with them. Whatever you're doing, don't mess with them. Just -- they know what they're doing, let them go, let them do this, just don't interfere.
And so I guess I give Frank Klett credit for that, for basically -- basically looking at us and what we were doing and how we were negotiating with the state and the borough and the feds and just saying, you know, these people have it. These young people that got it, and don't -- just don't mess with them. And they didn't. They didn't.
I didn't even tell George and Roy about our acquisition of the oil and gas interests in the Kenai 'til I had the deed in hand, because, you know, CEOs can be really loose lipped.
So -- But, he was, you know -- so, he was -- he was supportive of us just doing our thing and recognizing that we weren't going to -- we weren't going to get bamboozled. We were going to -- we were going to do the company proud.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Well, this has been marvelous. Thank you for taking the time and thank you for knowing the issue so well and being so clear and presenting it.
And we appreciate your passion and your dedication, and you've made a real contribution. Thank you.
MARGIE BROWN: Oh, thank you for saying that. Thank you. That means a lot, because, you know, you are -- you are historians and it's nice to know that there's going to be recognition for --
I mean, not just me, but just, you know, what -- what these young, early ANCSA leaders accomplished in the face of a lot of opposition. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Yeah. Um, I --
MARGIE BROWN: If you capture that, I'll be really happy.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: I think we've captured it, yeah. Karen and I have spent our career interviewing people and oftentimes we end an interview like this and we say to ourselves, "This has really given us life. It's given us inspiration."
It's -- it's reinforced what's important. And it's a real bright spot. So thank you very much.
MARGIE BROWN: Oh, you're welcome. Happy to do it. Allowed me to relive a part of -- time of my life where I'm never going to forget. I feel I was a little disjointed, but you'll get through it.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Okay. Anything else for the good of the order from the rest of us there?
KAREN BREWSTER: I'm just going to stop the recording, and then I want to say something. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Okay.