In the 1990s Alaska faced declining oil revenues; its agriculture remained negligible; despite huge coal reserves, only one coal mine operated in the state, and it exported a modest 881,000 metric tons of coal to South Korea annually. The state government had carefully nursed the wild salmon stocks so they again yielded bountiful harvests. The tourist industry had increased every year since statehood, but the state’s efforts to diversify its economy were not a great success. Democratic governor Tony Knowles, first elected in 1994, pledged to “add value to our resources” while at the same time enhancing the beauty and cleanliness of Alaska.
The twelve Native corporations (plus a 13th, established in 1976 for Natives living outside the state) paid out, from the 1971 cash settlement, an average of about $6,000 each to their shareholders between 1972 and 1981.
Meanwhile, as early as 1974 they started to conduct business operations, often as joint ventures with established firms. The results have been mixed. Going into the 1990s, most of the corporations had lost money on direct business operations. All were hurt by the 1986 collapse of world oil prices. Offsetting the losses was income from mineral leases, financial portfolios, and sales of net operating losses. As a group, in their first 20 years of operation, the corporations were significantly less profitable than the average U.S. corporation. Six of them entered the 1990s with few assets and were recovering from heavy losses. In fact, the Natives might have realized a higher return if they had invested the cash settlement in a diversified mutual fund portfolio. Nevertheless, the regional corporations have given the Natives valuable business experience and political clout in the state. "USA" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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