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John W. Schaeffer Speech, 1981 Inupiat Ilitqusiat: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

September 21, 2017

One of our problems we’ve had is we can’t get our young people through college anymore. They aren’t going after the education they’ll need to run our business, not only our business but training to take other jobs; doctors, teachers; that kind of thing. 

 

We started looking at some statistics because the (NANA) board wants to spend NANA’s money for scholarships so our own shareholders, our young people, can get the kind of training they’ll need to take some of these jobs. 

 

Gues what the statistics tell us. This problem is getting worse, not better. Out of allt he kids we send to college only 11% finish the first year. That’s not very good and it gets worse, less than 2% that’s two students out of every 100 we send to college, ever graduate. Think about it. Only 2% of our young people finish college. 

 

It costs money to send kids to college. We haven’t had to worry about htat much up to now because it always used to be that BIA or someone would put up the money, but they’ve cut those funds back and they’ll cut them back more before they’re through. So who’s going to send these kids to college? NANA, NANA’s going to have to pick up some of the tab because I know not many of you have $5,000 a year for every kid of yours that decides they want to go to college. So NANA’s going to spend money on this. 

 

Well I look at this like any other investment. We’re going to invest NANA’s money in our people because we need these people. If they’re trained and they come back to work for us we’re going to get our money back because we need trained people. 

 

Let’s take a look at how many college graduates we need. We need about 100 right now. Not just for NANA but 100 jobs around the region at Maniilaq, teachers for the school district and other places like that. Just to start off we need 100 trained people. 

 

When you start to figure out how much that would cost at the rate our students drop our there’s now ay we can afford to do it. If 98 out of 100 kids drop out before they graduate it’s going to turn out to be a pretty poor investment. If I spent NANA’s money on that kind of investment you should fire me. With the kind of drop out rate we’ve got we’re never going to make it anyway. We’d hav eto send 5,000 students to college to get the 100 graduates we need. We don’t have that many kids. 

 

This is one of the areas where we have a problem. We started looking at this. Our kids get just as much of a chance to go. The schools are telling us they might be a little bit shy in some areas like English or math, depending on how good of an education they got in high school. But they’re saying they’re not that far behind. Besides that they have special programs for our kids to help them catch up. They have extra courses to help our kids get up to the level everybody else is at. So what’s the matter? They’re not dumb. They’re not any dumber than anyone else and everyone else seems to be going through. There’s something else wrong with that but I’ll stop here for now. 

 

 

We can’t get graduates, so what does that mean? That leads me into the next area. Every place I need someone with a degree I’m going to have to hire some nalaugmuit because there won’t be any Inupiaq for that job. Well maybe a few Inupiaq but not enough for all the jobs we have. 

 

Now before I move ahead with jobs the other thing wrong with this is, that when we do get some graduates with degrees we can’t trust them to run our company for you becuase they don’t think right. They don’t think like an Inupiaq. They don’t look at things like an Inupiaq. When the few of them that do get through college come back we have to train them over again because they just think like nalaugmuit and we won’t have a nalaugmuit a chance to run this company because we’ve got things too important to us to sell. And basically in a business that’s what they do. They sell whatever they’ve got. Everything’s for sale. 

 

Well in our coproration our land is not for sale! We can’t have people who think they can sell our land running our company. So our people who go through college, get done and come back thinking like nalaugmuit, they’re no good to us. They’re wasted. 

 

Now let’s talk about jobs. Right now NANA has maybe 500 jobs. About one third, or 150 are held by shareholders. Maybe not by shareholders but by the husband or wife of a shareholder and we count them because they’re taking care of a shareholder. That’s what we’re really concerned about, if our jobs are providing for our shareholders and their families. But most of these 150 jobs are held by Inupiaq. Now the other two thirds of our jobs are held by other people, mostly nalaugmuit. We don’t even count the few blacks or Puerto Ricans who work for us. As far as we’re concerned they’re nalaugmuit, because were concerned about jobs for our people. 

 

Why aren’t more of our shareholders holding these jobs? Why?

 

There are a lot of excuses for it like getting our shareholders into the right unions or because a lot of these jobs are far away and it’s hard to get our shareholders there. But a lot of it has to do with high turn-over because our people won’t stay on the job. Sometimes they want to go hunting and fishing and maybe that’s all right. I think a lot of our people get that first pay check, head for the nearest bar or liquor store and never make it back to the job. That’s not all right. 

 

Our people, a lot of the time, just up and quit. They don’t give notice. Our nalaugmuit managers have a job to do. They need dependable, reliable people, someone they can count on to show up and stay on the job so they hire a nalaugmuit to replace an Inupiaq. Pretty soon we haven’t got too many of our people working for us. 

 

On eo fthe things you told us to do was to get jobs for you. Okay, let’s say we need 500 jobs. In order to get 500 jobs for our shareholders I’ve got to create 2,000 jobs. Because of the way thing sare going 1,500 of those jobs are going to nalaugmuit in order to get enough jobs for our shareholders. I’ve got to make our company big enough to have four times as many employees. That’s the way it looks on paper. 

 

That might take care of us for a while but our people are growing. In five years we’ll need twice as many jobs. We’ll have to come up with 1,000 jobs if that’s what you want me to do. We’ve got to have 3,000 more jobs for nalaugmuit in order to get 1,000 more jobs for you. That doesn’t make sense does it? But that’s the way things are going with NANA. When you look at it this way we’re not doing a very good job. Something’s wrong. 

 

So we started looking. What’s the matter? I can make you profits but I can’t get your people trained and get them jobs, not enough of them anyway. Something’s wrong?

 

We can’t afford to put those kids through college, not if that many are going to drop out. 

 

 

 

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