Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Old Harbor Native Corporation's Chief Executive Officer is Carl Marrs

I imagine that most people, when they heard there was a Native village called Old Harbor with a couple hundred people close to where the Kulluk grounded, didn't think much about it. Some sleepy little village where people fish. Not too sophisticated. A place Shell could easily take advantage of. Their website description begins with this paragraph:
Welcome To Old Harbor Old Harbor is an Alutiiq village on Kodiak Island, Alaska approximately 40 air miles from the City of Kodiak on the southeast side of the Island. Old Harbor is one of the Island’s six Alutiiq villages and is primarily inhabited by an Alutiiq population. Old Harbor residents enjoy sharing Kodiak Island's beautiful lands with visitors and their hospitality is legendary. Visitors find residents to be warm, generous, and sincere. Today, the community of Old Harbor has a modern airstrip, a harbor for its fishing fleet and the modern amenities of water, sewer, electricity, internet and satellite services.
But if you poke around on that website you get to their company page which begins:
"Old Harbor Native Corporation (OHNC) is one of 252 Native village corporations established by Congress in 1971 under the terms of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). ANCSA, which was a purposeful alternative to the Lower 48 reservation system, was the first settlement of its kind between Native Americans and the federal government.  Alaska Natives were provided a corporate structure for holding land and capital, with the freedom to control their own economic and social future.
OHNC was incorporated in 1973 and originally enrolled 329 shareholders under the Act.  Today, there are approximately 335 shareholders residing primarily in Anchorage, Kodiak and Old Harbor, but some as far away as Iceland and Switzerland.
The Corporation’s Board of Directors is tasked with the dual responsibility to grow and manage the assets of the Corporation for the benefit of the shareholders, and preserve and protect the culture and traditions of the community.  A challenging task, indeed."
The Board/Staff page leads you to a link to Chief Executive Officer Carl Marrs:
Cal Marrs with fellow UA Regent Mary Hughes in Juneau

"Carl H. Marrs

Mr. Marrs joined Old Harbor Native Corporation as Chief Executive Officer August 2010.  Carl has been working with Old Harbor Native Corporation since 2005 as an advocate in Juneau and Washington DC on various projects.
Carl was born and raised in Seldovia, Alaska and is an Alutiiq from the South Central Region of Alaska.  He grew up as a commercial fisherman and attended school in Kodiak. He later spent two years in the Marine Corps before returning to commercial fishing. Carl had an extensive career at Cook Inlet Region Inc. (CIRI) working in various capacities from 1973 thru 2004.  In December 2004, Marrs stepped down as the company's president and CEO. He left behind an organization that in his tenure provided record dividend payouts to shareholders, and fulfilled its commitment to enhancing the social welfare of its people.  In addition, he previously worked successfully as owner and operator of Marrs & Company from 2005 thru 2010 which was an investment and consulting company.
Marrs was awarded an honorary degree of Public Service from Alaska Pacific University.  He volunteers his time to a number of community organizations, including Alaska Pacific University, the Boy Scouts of America, and the Boys and Girls Club. Marrs has also served on the boards of the Fiscal Policy Council of Alaska, the Alaska Railroad Corporation, Board of Directors for Key Bank of Alaska, President of the Association of ANCSA CEO’s, Board of Director of the Alaska State Council of Commerce as well as worked with the United Way of Anchorage, Alaska SeaLife Center and the Alaska Oil & Gas Association.  Marrs currently serves as a member on the Board of Regents for the University of Alaska and the Koahinic Broadcasting Corporation," 

Carl Marrs is a powerful figure in Alaskan political and business circles.  He rose through his Native Corporation ranks and has worked closely with all the most influential people in Alaska.

A 2003 Cook Inlet Region Inc. (CIRI) newsletter celebrating Marrs' 30 years service said,
Carl has a reputation as being tough, fair and direct. He has worked hard to earn this reputation, and he is recognized for his negotiating stands and his deal-making skills. A number of our business partners have said they would work with Carl again in a heartbeat because they appreciate his forthright attitude.
A major success for CIRI came from investment benefits Native Corporations  gained thanks to legislation supported by Marrs' friend Ted Stevens.
CIRI's president and chief executive Carl Marrs, who engineered an extraordinarily successful investment in wireless telecommunications, stands to reap $3.8 million, based on Friday's stock prices. Vice presidents Barbara Donatelli, Mark Kroloff, Kirk McGee and Craig Floerchinger will collect $3.3 million each.
The board of directors of the Anchorage-based Native corporation voted 14-1 in favor of the compensation plan at a November meeting, according to Marrs. The board met again Dec. 15 and approved a $314 million cash payout to shareholders based on CIRI's windfall investment in VoiceStream Wireless Corp. and its bullish growth as a company over the past decade. Most of CIRI's 7,000 shareholders received $50,000 checks last week.  (from the Peninsula Clarion)
But not everyone agreed with his approach.  The Peninsula Clarion wrote:
[Former CIRI Chief Exec] Huhndorf ran a highly public campaign in which he openly accused CIRI chief executive Carl Marrs of recklessness and lack of vision. Huhndorf promised to shine a spotlight on what he considers the Anchorage-based company's shaky financial outlook and extravagant spending by management.
The Alaska Supreme Court in a decision which found John Ellsworth guilty of fraud and wilful misconduct costing CIRI millions of dollars, wrote:
Evidence was introduced at trial to show that Carl Marrs was responsible for supervising Ellsworth's management of AIC, but the superior court determined, “Marrs never actively supervised or scrutinized ․ Ellsworth, but rather allowed him carte blanche to manage AIC.”

In any case, Carl Marrs is a man to be reckoned with and if the Kulluk is in Old Harbor territory, it's probably safe to assume that the Old Harbor Native Corporation's interests are being well looked after.  


  1. "Carl Marrs is a man to be reckoned with and if the Kulluk is in Old Harbor territory, it's probably safe to assume that the Old Harbor Native Corporation's interests are being well looked after."

    Had to read it 2X to make sure I had read it right. I guess you are not kidding.

    Mr. Marrs is, if anything, a good example of how Native organizations can be used by outsiders - by getting a charismatic face man at the top, send enough goodies and public rewards his way, and rake in the profits.

    Carl's op-ed over at the Dispatch is being called for what it is in the comments.

  2. Phil, I saw the Dispatch piece today. My assumption was that Marrs would be able to trade whatever - money, jobs, local environmental protection, and other support for OHNC members - in exchange for whatever cooperation Shell wanted. Perhaps you are suggesting that Marrs would sell out the members for his own gain. The $3 million CIRI board members got did include $50,000 per CIRI member as well. I assume if Marrs is getting something personally from Shell, the OHNC members are getting something too. I guess we need to find out what was traded for that op ed piece and whatever other support Marrs offers Shell in the future. I doubt it came no-strings-attached.

  3. You might be interested to see who David Maquez and Roger Chan are working for these days...

  4. Anon, Interesting, but is there a direct connection to this post that I'm missing?

  5. Carl Marrs has been with OHNC for some time now, it's nothing new.

    Is there a connection, you ask....

    Other than all three of these men were caught up in varying degrees in the CBC scandal, no, I guess there's no direct connection.

    I've always thought that Olgoonik's work with the DEA in Mexico is quite interesting, and certainly doesn't get enough attention, but is certainly not connected to this story.

    NANA's telecom contract corruption in Iraq as documented in Blood Money by T. Christian Miller was certainly newsworthy outside of Alaska in 2004 (not a single media outlet carried this story in Alaska) but no, probably no direct connection there either.

    Nope, no direct connection.....

  6. Anon, fodder for future posts. Thanks. Knowing all the interconnections helps make things understandable. The links I looked at show a disturbing connection between native corporations and the war industry. Stuff that needs to be followed up on.


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