Senate scrutinizing Alaska's Native corporations

A senator from Missouri is launching a new investigation into the billions of contracting dollars awarded to Alaska Native corporations by the federal government in recent years.

Last week, Sen. Claire McCaskill, a former state auditor and prosecutor, wrote a letter to 20 of Alaska's biggest Native corporations, asking them to furnish eight years worth of internal records, including how much they paid their executives and how many of their employees were Native. She gave them a deadline of 13 days.

The reactions from Native executives and Alaska politicians this week ranged from frustration to concern about the future of the Native companies, many of which have grown rapidly in recent years due to their success in landing massive federal contracts for services such as security and maintenance at military bases and providing equipment at U.S. border checkpoints.

"We are always open to scrutiny" said Will Anderson, president of the ANCSA Regional Association, a league of the 13 regional Native corporations created by the federal Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in 1971.

He and other Native executives pointed out that they have run through a gantlet of congressional investigations in recent years and that the same concerns keep cropping up over and over again.

"The government is getting a very good value for (its) money," Anderson said.

Some watchdog groups disagree.

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