'Something else' enters the boardroom

Indian Country Today

Rebecca Adamson joins us today to talk about Indigenous presence in corporate boardrooms. National correspondent Joaqlin Estus shares more details behind her current story on why drilling has cooled in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

A new law in California requires publicly held companies headquartered in that state to include board members from underrepresented communities. Cherokee citizen Rebecca Adamson joins the newscast to discuss. Adamson is an economist who has worked for decades on social investing and corporate governance.  

Plus national correspondent Joaqlin Estus is on today's show. There are 5 to 10 billion barrels of oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge but there does not seem to be a rush to acquire it as opposition to drilling grows. Based in Anchorage, Joaqlin joins us to talk about her recent story "Arctic oil, gas lease sales get cool reception."

Some quotes from todays show:

Rebecca Adamson Times Square
Photo courtesy Rebecca AdamsonRebecca Adamson in Times Square.

Rebecca Adamson:

"I'm sorry to say, there's still not enough of us there. What's interesting is this whole topic of diversity and the value behind diversity. I was actually asked onto the Calvert social investment funds because of the work I was doing with the Lakota people on Pine Ridge in establishing the Lakota fund. And the micro-enterprise work, the micro lending, the community development financial institutions that we were working with tribes to create and establish became such a bandwagon through the country that as a mutual fund, they wanted to understand about it."

"And they really brought me on to create a national sort of private sector, community development, financial intermediary. And so it came out of diversity to begin with. My experience on caliber. I came on, I went on the board in 1989. Back in those days, it was called high social impact investing. And I was actually charged with creating this private sector vehicle."

Over the course of the years, surveyed our trustees and our shareholders and they were behind it. And this was the eye opener for me, Mark, on what it means to be on some of these boards. We went to the shareholders, they voted to put 1 percent of portfolio into community development. Low-Income lending mechanisms that 1 percent represented three quarters of a billion dollars. I'd been doing fundraising all my life." 

Joaqlin Estus:

"They had a lease sale and they offered the department of Interior 22 tracks of land for sale in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil and gas development. And they got 11 bids, half of what they were offering. And most of the bids were from the state of Alaska and the bid amounts were very low."

"So it was a disappointment and there were several reasons for that. One is that there's a glut of oil on the international and national markets. The price of oil is very low and there's opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. So people had gone into this with really high hopes."

(Read more: Arctic oil, gas lease sales get cool reception)

"The US geological survey estimates that there are five to 10 billion barrels of oil in the refuge. And for comparison, the reserve oil under Prudhoe Bay was 15 billion barrels. And that's been getting drawn out of the ground for 20-25 years. And it's created a lot of jobs and it's funded 90 percent of the state government in Alaska. That's something most Alaskans, the state, and the congressional delegation all like."

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Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, is editor of Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @TrahantReports Trahant is based in Phoenix.

Joaqlin Estus, Tlingit, is a national correspondent for Indian Country Today. Based in Anchorage, Alaska, she is a longtime journalist. Follow her on Twitter @estus_m or email her at jestus@indiancountrytoday.com. 

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