Trilogy Metals Inc. Dec. 11 announced the appointment of renowned Alaska Native leader William Iggiagruk Hensley to its board of directors. Born in Kotzebue, Northwest Alaska, Hensley was a key player in the settlement of Alaska's Native claims with the United States government. He attended the University of Alaska in Fairbanks and graduated with a degree in Political Science from George Washington University in Washington, DC. While attending graduate school in Fairbanks, Hensley wrote a pivotal research paper for Judge Jay Rabinowitz titled "Alaska Native Land Claims: The Primary Issue", which outlined the historical land rights of Alaska Natives, arguing for a just settlement of the issue. This paper led to Native self-organization and the establishment of the Northwest Alaska Native Association in 1966 – a precursor to Maniilaq Association, a non-profit organization which advocates for all Native issues, including health, housing, and political rights. President Richard Nixon signed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in December 1971 providing for the creation of 12 Alaska Native Regional Corporations which were capitalized nearly US$1 billion and transferred roughly 44 million acres of land to Alaska Natives through their corporate entities.
NANA Regional Corporation Inc., created as a result of ANCSA, received title to 2.28 million acres of lands in Northwest Alaska – now organized into the Northwest Arctic Borough. NANA is a for-profit US corporation with a mission to provide economic opportunities for its more than 14,000 Iñupiat shareholders as well as to protect and enhance NANA lands.
"Willie Hensley was a founding member of NANA Regional Corporation, Inc., and has been a pivotal figure in Alaska," said NANA President and CEO Wayne Westlake. "He led the movement that solidified Indigenous inclusion in projects on Alaska-Native owned lands, which has defined NANA's model for responsible resource development."
After graduation, Hensley was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives and then served four full terms in the Alaska Senate and two further terms through an appointment by Gov. Steve Cowper. Hensley served as president of NANA and as a director of the Northwest Alaska Native corporation for 20 years as a director of NANA. He also led NANA Development Corp., a NANA subsidiary that manages the Native corporation extensive business portfolio.
Hensley’s distinguished career also includes playing a major role in the founding of the Alaska Federation of Natives, a statewide organization that aims to enhance the cultural, economic and political voice of the Alaska Native community. He has served as director, executive director, president and co-chair of AFN.
Hensley currently serves as chair of the First Alaskans Institute and is the Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Department of Business and Public Policy at the University of Alaska in Anchorage.
"We are honored and privileged to have Mr. Hensley serve on the company's board of directors,” said Trilogy Metals Chairman Gerry McConnell. “His experience and insights will be invaluable to the Company as we advance our projects in the Ambler Mining District.”
Trilogy Metals projects in the Ambler Mining District, collectively known as the Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects, are being advanced in partnership with NANA. The most advanced of these are Arctic, a high-grade copper-gold-zinc-lead-silver deposit on Alaska mining claims, and Bornite, a high-grade copper deposit on NANA lands.