Posted by: shannynmoore | May 16, 2010

Moore Up North: BP Whistle Blower Mike Mason and Sealaska Cherry-Picking the Tongass?

This week, I interviewed Mike Mason, BP Whistle Blower, about the blowout preventer tests he alleges BP regularly faked on the North Slope and the connection-if any-to the unfolding oilpocalypse in the Gulf of Mexico.  It is now estimated that nearly 3 million gallons of oil are gushing into the Gulf every day. Today is Day 26 of the disaster.  If the new gush figures are correct, an astonishing and horrific 76.44 MILLION GALLONS of OIL are in the Gulf of Mexico right now with no end in sight.

Tonight’s panel discussion centered on Sealaska’s plans to Cherry-Pick the Tongass National Forest.


Mike Mason is a 27 year oil-industry veteran who worked on oil rigs at BP facilities on the North Slope of Alaska. On January 21, 2005, Corporate Crime Reporter ran an article detailing Mason’s allegations of BP’s cheating on blowout preventer tests.  At the time, Mason was working for Nabors Alaska Drilling Inc. – a BP contractor on the North Slope.

Mason was fired from his job at Nabors Alaska Drilling on July 16, 2006, four days after he wrote a letter to the editor of the Anchorage Daily News.


  • Eric Myers, Policy Director, Audubon Alaska
  • Dr. John Schoen, Senior Scientist and Interim Executive Director Audobon Society
  • Matt Zencey, Alaska Conservation Foundation, former editor at the Anchorage Daily News


  1. Hi Shannon: I haven’t had a chance to watch this episode of Moore Up North yet, but my immediate reaction to the topic of Sealaska’s plans to “cherry pick” the Tongass National Forest is that the native corporations have always done that. They would clear cut an area in Southeastern and then want the government to trade that “no good” land for an equal amount that still had trees. I always thought it was a pretty hypocritical and greedy for people who are claim to be “one with nature”. Yeah, right.

  2. I will side with the flying rodents just this once, also too;
    They soar many moral miles above the pro-pollute pool.

  3. Shannon,
    The comment by Lynne Stevens is disappointing. After admitting she hasn’t watched the video, she still feels authorized to share her immediate negative reaction of Alaska’s Indigenous people with the world.

    I believe we should be at least given the respect to be heard. In fact, this was the most disappointing part of your latest television episode of “Moore up North” – that you completely ignored the voice of the Native people you were attacking.

    To answer Ms. Stevens claims that us “one with nature” people are greedy, please read this –

    If you interested in why Native people cut down trees, please read this –

    I believe you strive to enlighten as you entertain. If that is true, I hope you consider hearing the whole story, because though you are trying to make your audience laugh – your actions are detrimental to a whole group of people who are just trying to find their way and not let thousands of years of heritage come to an end in their lifetime.
    Thanks, Morgan Howard

    • I am the “gentleman” that Mr. Morgan refers to in his article at:

      Mr. Morgan is very biased, as his company does business with Sealaska and he no doubt has a financial interest in seeing that the Sealaska Land bills pass in congress.

      Sealaska IS NOT a Tribe, NOR does it represent the views of Southeast Alaskan Natives – it represents only it’s own views.

      The following quote was NOT written by myself, it was written and publicly posted on the internet by a Southeast Alaska Native and Sealaska Shareholder. Even Sealaska shareholders know when their corporation is being greedy.

      >>Sealaska is being greedy by cherry-picking the best lands outside of the original boundaries of ANCSA, all under the overused, tired disguise of “culture, heritage, ancestral lands, sacred sites” etc. The real reason is greed.<<

  4. Wouldn’t it be great if Sealaska could use the trees within our own state? Setting up factories for the making of musical instruments, furniture, structually integrated building panels, low cost house kits, boats, kayaks, whatever…set up an infrastructure for education and manufacturing jobs instead of shipping the logs to Asia? ( I have to wonder if the native people, when given their land allotments, were all of a sudden liable for taxes on them and so had to exploit the resources in order to ‘pay the man’)…Setting up sustainable industry, value added products and protecting the old growth seems like a better option than clear cutting and the ensuing fish killing acidification of the inside passage waters with the run off and erosion from the process. Time to think ahead for whatever generations might actually survive on this planet, right now, that is a huge speculation, survival.

  5. Morgan Howard is employed by Sealaska……………He never mentions that fact.

  6. The tribal governments for Hoonah and Kake have come out against the Sealaska Land Bill. There are quite a few shareholders who do not support the present management and board because of the lands bill, as well as their non-responsiveness to shareholders over the past 20 years.

    Morgan Howard doesn’t even live in Alaska, he lives in Seattle and has developed his business supporting the management of Sealaska. If you go to the website for Morgan Howard Productions, his client list is heavy on ANCSA corporations. How dare he suggest that shareholders of Sealaska support without question the misguided and shameful maneuvering of Kookesh and others in trying to pass this bill. Additionally, how dare Mr. Howard dictate to SE Alaska communities and their residents what they should support for their livelihoods while he sits in Seattle unaffected by any ill effects of clear cutting.

    Many of the villages like Kake, Klawock, Hydaburg, and Hoonah rely heavily on subsistence economies, clear-cutting destroys subsistence. Subsistence is not only a means to augment a cash-poor economy, but a means by which the Tlingit & Haida culture preserves the old ways. But I guess that Morgan Howard has drifted so far from the old ways (if he ever knew them) that he has forgotten the lessons of respecting the land for what it provides.

    An interesting analysis of Sealaska board and executive management shows that at least eight of them live in Seattle, bringing to mind that Sealaska stands not for Southeast Alaska but Seattle-Alaska.

  7. Thank you to Shannon Moore for addressing this issue! To refute Mr. Howard’s statement, no one is dissing natives, even though Sealaska and S.881 supporters always seem to try to turn this into a racist issue. IT IS NOT. What it IS, anger that Sealaska Corporation wants to violate ANCSA and community subsistence rights (ANILCA), rewriting the laws for their corporation’s profits even though local communities, federal agencies, state fish and game people and environmental organizations ALL AGREE that S.881 would be BAD NEWS for the local economy, environmental health, and the future of SE Alaska.
    Sealaska does not listen. Sealaska does not care about that, and neither does the Alaska congressional delegation. Sealaska is owed land and has picked it out, as required, under ANCSA. No one has an issue with finalizing that claim. But to go outside the law, to rewrite the law with callous disregard for their neighbors and communities in SE Alaska, to take taxpayer funded managed lands and roads, to log the best remaining habitat….A LOT of people in SE Alaska have a huge issue with that. Even many shareholders have a huge issue with that.

  8. In regards to Mr. Howards “articles” on his own website that he provided the following links to:

    You will notice that there are NO comments on these articles from myself. I did submit very civil and appropriate comments to these articles, but Mr. Howard obviously will not let any opinion that goes against his own to be published – so why does he even have a place to submit comments to his articles then?

    Mr. Morgan gets his income from Sealaska, that is why he is biased. Follow the money, same as it’s ever been…… even in Mr. Howard’s case.

  9. What makes you think you have to decimate an ancient forest to teach our children their heritage and native language?
    Why has there not been any sustainable industry created by the corporation for the shareholders to build community economics?
    Why isn’t the land already chosen good enough anymore?
    Why are more and more shareholders speaking out against the Sealaska Corporate practices?
    Why is it OK to tread upon other communities who’s livelihoods depend upon the forest and the natural balance to feed their families?
    Why do you live in Seattle and encourage people to support an action that has so much negative affect on the people of this land?

  10. Sealaska’s board is incompetent at anything but greedily lining their own pockets, provides only lip service when it comes to representing its shareholders, and has fixed its election process so that it can make seats on the board and similar plum jobs hereditary…Lisa Murkowski is either pretty naive or alot like them herself, to feel so comfortable being their champion.

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