A few of my friends know I have Alaska Native heritage. I'm not entirely sure of the exact percentage of native blood I have, but it's enough that I'm registered with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and entitled to benefits available to native Americans. I do not live in an area where native medical services are readily available, so I don't use them....that is the only benefit I would even consider. I feel I'm not native enough to qualify for anything else.
When my mom passed away in 1998, I inherited her shares in a very large native corporation. It has created a comfortable cushion for us financially as it pays regular quarterly dividends and occasional large extra dividends. In 2000, it paid a very, VERY large (5 figure) dividend, which enabled me (financially) to finalize my divorce and provide a better lifestyle for Faith and myself. I also inherited shares in a smaller corporation, but it has yet to pay dividends to its shareholders.
Due to family issues (a blog in and of itself), I was not notified when my grandma (mom's mom) died in 2000. Not that I was too bothered with this as I didn't really know her, and what I did know was not in her favor. So, I was surprised to be contacted by another smaller native corporation in 2009 stating that I had inherited a portion of my grandmother's stock. It would have been my mother's, but since she was deceased the shares passed to me. I only own 23 shares, but it enables me to benefit from other services offered by the corporation, such as scholarships and business loans.
You can imagine my further shock when I opened the mail today to find yet another corporation contacting me regarding my grandmother's stock shares. Once I return the paperwork, the shares that were to go to my mother will be mine. I'm sure it will be another 23 share percentage, but I'll once again gain access to this corporation's other services.
Honestly, the dividends (aside from the large corporation's) don't mean anything to me. What's most important to me are the scholarships offered by each corporation. Faith has announced her intention to attend the University of Washington (go Huskies!) after high school, so we'll need as much financial assistance as possible to make it happen. Merit and academic-based scholarships are becoming increasingly hard to acquire due to overwhelming need, so these privately offered scholarships will be vital. When I first went to college, I didn't know these corporations would help pay for my tuition. Had I known, my life might have turned out quite differently. I'm determined Faith will have the opportunities I didn't.