Spoiler Alert: A fallen tree does make a sound. But only when the audiences’ interest is piqued is it heard.

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” – George Berkely

COVID-19 CARES Act $$ – Tribes v. Treasury

Tomorrow is a much anticipated showdown in Washington DC US District Court. In this round though, Alaska Native Corporations interests are allowed to be heard, as it should be.

I have a professional history that afforded me a broadened experience. A part of that is that I know where to look for interesting bits of information. As some may know, I spearheaded the effort to protect the Sitnasuak Native Corporation family of companies in 2009/2010. That included bringing the family of companies back into compliance with SBA 8(a) and a host of other federal agency regulations that were not being followed in the spirit of the law.

This was an extensive effort, a significant financial investment, that led to a rapid evolution of the organizational infrastructure being put into place. All of these steps were implemented to ensure that Sitnasuak would not fall prey to bad actors again.

However, what could not be changed, and what was voted down by the Sitnasuak shareholders was the proxy initiative to require a higher standard in the qualifications and eligibility to run and serve on the corporation’s board of directors. Every organization reflects on its SWOT Analysis – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. This qualification issue I believe to be a weakness and a threat.

The qualification/eligibility problem is under my microscope. I hoped for the best of the players that gained control of the corporation. I hoped that the violations of election regulations they instituted in their campaign toolbox, were motivated because of a personal dislike of the members they targeted. I held onto hope that they would not carry out their pattern of violating regulations because they reached their goal to control the board.

I fear that I was holding on to a false hope.

From my novice point of view, I believe that the current leadership at Sitnasuak abolished following “the spirit of the law” and are repeating shady practices similar to what happened before. Unfortunately, when they gained control, the backslide to shady business practices, when dealing with the federal government, has been fast.

This is what I have found, my personal opinion and analysis of what I found. There are 3 separate examples.

  1. COVID-19 CARES Act set off extremely important discussions of Indian Law in national forums and courts right now. The crux of the issue in question is the eligibility of Alaska Native Corporations for CARES Act funding distributions by the Department of Treasury.

So what does this have to do with the current leadership of Sitnasuak or Sitnasuak at all?

Sitnasuak Native Corporation updated their registration in http://www.sam.gov on May 18, 2020. This is necessary to receive federal funds, whether they are grants, contracts, etc. The link below will bring you to http://www.sam.gov that shows the registration of Sitnasuak Native Corporation.

Sitnasuak Native Corporation submitted this registration and with that certifies it to be true and correct. But Sitnasuak registered as a Tribal Government.

If you follow my blog, you already know my opinions about a host of things. One is that in Alaska, we assert our rights to Self-Govern in ways that we choose, no one outside gets to force their will upon us, tribe or otherwise. However, a Tribal Government has a different tax status than Sitnasuak Native Corporation. Tribal Governments are non-profit entities that provide social services. Sitnasuak is a different corporate vehicle created out of Self-Governance decisions that resulted from the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.

My opinion is that this filing is made up of ‘false and misleading’ information in an effort to bypass this national debate and to receive this funding under a false light.

Why do I come to this conclusion?

Because this group was not held accountable for violating State of Alaska Banking and Security Regulations the oversees ANCSA Corporation elections. This lack of accountability, I believe, has emboldened them to continue their practice of freely certifying false and misleading statements to get whatever it is they next want. In this case, that appears to be by asserting the corporation is a tribal government.

In comparison, I also looked up Chenega Corporation’s sam.gov filing. Chenega is argualbly the most successful Alaska Native Village Corporation. Chenega filed their sam.gov registration lawfully and certified that the information was correct and true. Chenega does not falsely claim it is a Tribal Government.

https://sam.gov/SAM/pages/public/entitySearch/entitySearchEntityOverview.jsf

Sitnasuak Native Corporation
DUNS:  010189280     CAGE Code:  3GP64   

Entity Overview

Entity Registration Summary

Name: Sitnasuak Native Corporation
Business Type: Tribal Government
Activation Date: 05/21/2020
Expiration Date: 05/18/2021

Exclusion Summary

Active Exclusion Records? No

2. Sole source contract award to Aurora Industries, LLC of $86 million and the SBA 8(a) filings to determine ‘good character’ for ongoing determination of SBA 8(a) eligibility.

Charles E. Fagerstrom was found to have violated State Banking and Securities laws related to Sitnasuak Native Corporation elections. The order is published on the State of Alaska Banking and Securities website. This Order was filed in 2016, but not executed until 2019. Related to this, the State of Alaska Banking and Securities filed a lawsuit in the State of Alaska Court against him for not paying the violation fees.

He was selected by his group that now control the board of directors as the Chief Executive Officer of Sitnasuak. The advertisement that was published for that job had a requirement that the CEO had to be able to qualify for Top Secret Clearance with the federal governmnet.

Fast forward a few months. April 9, 2020 there was a press release that the Defense Logistics Agency awarded Sitnasuak subsidiary a sole-source contract up to $86 million to manufacture Personal Protection Equipment for the Department of Defense.

On April 15, 2020, Charles E. Fagerstrom submitted an Update of Officials to the State of Alaska for Sitnasuak Native Corporation. He is listed as the “President” and he signed this filing.

On May 21, 2020 Sitnasuak Native Corporation updated its sam.gov registration certifying itself as a Tribal Government. He is not listed as a Point of Contact for the Aurora Industries, LLC sam.gov registration filing. However, is listed as the “government point of contact” for the Sitnasuak registration filing.

Highest Owner

ENTITY NAMECAGEFAPIIS Records
SITNASUAK NATIVE CORPORATION  No 

  Immediate Owner

ENTITY NAMECAGEFAPIIS Records
SNC TECHNICAL SERVICES, LLC 86G82 No 
relates to

Search Result

ENTITY NAMECAGEFAPIIS Records
AURORA INDUSTRIES LLC6R8G1Yes

  Predecessors

ENTITY NAMECAGEFAPIIS Records
relates to

https://www.fapiis.gov/fapiis/fapiisreports_input.action

Entity: AURORA INDUSTRIES LLC View Corporate Relationships DUNS: 078459725 CAGE: 6R8G1 Date FAPIIS search conducted: 06/12/2020 22:18:44
FAPIIS DataRecordsCount
Administrative AgreementNo0
Defective PricingNo0
DoD Determination of Contractor FaultNo0
Information on Trafficking in PersonsNo0
Non-Responsibility DeterminationNo0
Recipient Not-Qualified DeterminationNo0
Subcontractor Payment IssuesNo0
Termination for CauseNo0
Termination for DefaultNo0
Termination for Material Failure to ComplyNo0
 
Proceedings Information as Entered by the Entity in SAM.gov
Question: Does your business or organization (represented by the DUNS number on this specific Entity Management section of SAM record) have current active Federal contracts and/or grants with total value (including any exercised/unexercised options) greater than $10,000,000?
***Contractor Response:  Yes
Question: Within the last five years, has your business or organization (represented by the DUNS number on this specific Entity Management section of SAM record) and/or any of its principals, in connection with the award to or performance by your business or organization of a Federal contract or grant, been the subject of a Federal or State (1) criminal proceeding resulting in a conviction or other acknowledgment of fault; (2) civil proceeding resulting in a finding of fault with a monetary fine, penalty, reimbursement, restitution, and/or damages greater than $5,000, or other acknowledgment of fault; and/or (3) administrative proceeding resulting in a finding of fault with either a monetary fine or penalty greater than $5,000 or reimbursement, restitution, or damages greater than $100,000, or other acknowledgment of fault?
***Contractor Response:  No

The answer shows that there were no such disclosures; when obviously, there need to be disclosures submitted to the federal government about the State of Alaska Banking and Securities violations signed in 2019 by Charles E. Fagerstrom.

3. The third example goes to the core of why I care and how I know what patterns of behavior to look for. That though, will be a topic of another day.

Published by Trudy Sobocienski

My blog, "Beyond Leadership" is a creative place to share my personal feelings and thoughts while working in leadership roles for a variety of Alaska Native organizations, both for and not-for profit entities. An incredible leader and mentor of mine once asked while we were in Washington, DC, "What happened to you between the ages of 7-10 that motivated you to serve in a native leadership capacity". I was struck by that poignant thought and as such, include actual entries from my mother and my diaries beginning in the early 1970's. I enjoy sharing these excerpts because it captures the parallels she and I were experiencing throughout life, from two separate worldviews. Hers as a young mother of four and mine as her eldest child. I have never came across a book on leadership that lays bare a leaders personal feelings, thoughts, hopes, fears and dreams they were experiencing. So for me, my goal is two-fold: 1. Share the incredible life my parents created for my siblings and I growing up in remote Alaska; and, 2) Sharing my humanity, through my personal diaries and journals, while serving as the youngest-ever President/CEO for the Alaska Native Health Board. There are passages that will include significant policy issues I was working on throughout my career and travels. There are many more passages that do not. I cannot speak for my mom's passages, because I am reading them as I share them here, with you; with her permission of course.

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