NANA Regional Corporation Withdraws from the Ambler Access Project

On May 8, 2024, NANA Regional Corporation, Inc. (NANA) announced its decision to withdraw from further involvement with the Ambler Access Project (AAP), a decision reached after thorough deliberation by the NANA board of directors. Consequently, NANA will not renew Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority’s (AIDEA) surface access permit set to expire this year. This decision reflects unmet criteria, insufficient consultation, and a lack of confidence in the project’s alignment with our values and community interests.  

NANA upholds a rich legacy of responsible resource development in our region, guided by a commitment to protect and advance our Iñupiat way of life. NANA established specific criteria required to consider supporting AAP, including controlled access, protection of caribou migration routes and subsistence resources, job creation and community benefits. These criteria remain insufficiently addressed by AIDEA. 

Additionally, NANA is concerned with the positions expressed in the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS), which in our view goes beyond the law in several aspects. BLM’s actions threaten Alaska Native corporations’ responsibility to advance the socioeconomic interests of shareholders in accordance with the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). We continue resisting attempts by the federal government to deny Alaska Native corporations’ control over our Indigenous owned lands and diminish our role in decision-making affecting our lands. 

“Our Elders fought to retain our ancestral lands in the Upper Kobuk, emphasizing both their subsistence value and mineral resource potential. It is our responsibility to steward these lands for future generations,” said Gia Hanna, chair of the NANA board of directors. “All decisions about development on our lands need to be made by and with our people at the table. We intend to vigorously defend our right to pursue resource and infrastructure development in alignment with our values.” 

“For more than 40 years NANA has successfully developed our resources alongside trusted industry partners in ways that respect our way of life and advance our region as a whole,” said John Lincoln, NANA president and CEO. “While NANA is disengaging from the AAP, we maintain our interest in future mineral development in the region that aligns with the expectations of our shareholders.” 

NANA will continue to defend access to our region as mandated by Congress in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), which authorizes surface transportation across the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve (GAAR) to the Dalton Highway. Should NANA shareholders and the neighboring region find the right time and partnerships to build a road across GAAR, this statute will be an asset to them.  

Our position is shaped by decades of engagement with shareholders and Tribes, prioritizing subsistence as the best use of our lands, and promoting a sustainable regional economy for the long-term prosperity of the Iñupiat people.  It remains imperative that our communities continue to assert self-determination over what happens on and near our ancestral homeland.