Q & A with Shareholder Employees

A Conversation with Harry Harvey, NDC Operations Planning Director and Tuuq Drilling President

This is part of a series of interviews with NANA’s shareholder-employees.

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Harry Harvey, a NANA shareholder originally from Noorvik, has two roles. He’s the President of Tuuq Drilling and the operations planning director for NANA Development Corporation. (Photo by Brian Adams, a NANA shareholder.)

 

What is your Iñupiaq name?

Aakataq. My namesake is the late Harry Brown who set up a trading post in Kobuk to supply gold miners. His wife, Mable Brown, was my mom’s aunt. The store is still open, operated by one of Harry and Mable’s granddaughters.

Where are you from originally?

I was born and raised in Noorvik and at our summer camp on the Kobuk River. My parents were the late Bert and Pauline Harvey.

Tell us about your parents.

My mother, Pauline, was born near Kobuk on the Salmon River. She spent her early years in Kiana during the Alaska Gold Rush, when many prospectors stampeded the region.

My father, Bert, was a reindeer herder—trained by Laplanders (Sami people) who brought reindeer to northwest Alaska in the 1890s.

After my parents met and married, they both became pastors for the Friends Church and ministered in many villages in the region. Before I was born, Mom taught school in Noorvik. Iñupiaq was their first language. My mother translated English into Iñupiaq, collaborating on several bilingual books, including Bible translations with linguist Wilfried Zibell.

In recognition for her volunteer work, including being a mid-wife to over 200 children, in 1981, my mother was honored by Governor Hammond’s wife, Bella, as the First Lady’s Volunteer of the Year. In 1984, Senator Ted Stevens invited Mom to Washington, D.C., as a senior citizen’s intern representative.

What was it like, growing up in Noorvik?

We lived a completely subsistence lifestyle. We spent early spring at fish camp, and summers in Kotzebue at “tent city” where people set nets, dried and smoked fish, and picked berries for the winter. I still like to fish, but now it’s all fly fishing for me.

Who has inspired you?

Besides my parents, I would have to say Robert (Aqqaluk) Newlin, Sr. I had a lot of respect for him and for all the roles he filled (NANA board chair, Noorvik store manager, city council member, mayor). He was enthusiastic about improving the quality of life for everyone in the NANA region. He was always very focused, positive and optimistic, despite all the early challenges. 

What was your first job?

During a summer break from school, I worked for the Noorvik Native Store. Robert (Newlin) was the store manager. He had a friendly smile and a jovial personality. The store was really more like a community center and a gathering place where men sat on boxes, smoked and visited until closing.

Robert extended store credit to many who had seasonal employment and, like most of us in the region, depended on subsistence hunting and fishing. My job was to update the accounts receivable ledger.

I don’t recall how much I was paid, but I probably spent my earnings on candy bars, so it was a wash.

What is your job today?

I have two roles.

I’m the president of Tuuq Drilling. I oversee all aspects of the business, along with Manager Mike Baker. Tuuq provides core and geotechnical drilling services in the NANA region, particularly at Red Dog Mine. We’re working on expanding our drilling services to other parts of Alaska and in the Lower 48, working with our partner, Ruen Drilling.

I also serve as NANA Development Corporation’s operations planning director. At Red Dog Mine, our agreement with Teck includes a provision for contract preference for NANA subsidiaries. We set up a process with Teck to ensure that we have the first opportunity to do the work. Mike Baker and I interact with Teck, and our subsidiaries, to make sure the work we do meets Teck’s expectations. Currently, eight of our companies provide services at the mine. We employ about 200 shareholders, full-time and seasonal, to support Red Dog.

How many years have you been with NANA?

I’ve been at NANA eight years. Prior to that, I worked at Alyeska Pipeline Company for 27 years—in financial planning and contract agreements. I was the CFO (chief financial officer) for Alaska Clean Seas (ACS), a subsidiary of the oil companies. (ACS provides oil spill response on the North Slope of Alaska.)

Have you had other jobs within NANA?

I was president of Ikun Energy, a NANA company that sold natural gas, primarily in the California market.

What is your first memory of NANA?

The initial organizational meetings started back when I was in high school. I was in college when the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) was passed. That’s when I enrolled as a NANA shareholder. At that time, I don’t think anyone could have anticipated the impact that ANCSA and the Native corporations would have on the villages and the state.

What has surprised you about working at NANA?

From its beginning, NANA has grown its financials exponentially. I would give credit for this rapid growth to the leadership and to the hard work of the board and staff.

What’s surprising is the wide range of our businesses—from federal, oil & gas, hotels, construction, engineering, real estate, etc.—at numerous locations around the world, and the large number of our employees.

What are important lessons that you have learned?

The NANA board’s focus on improving the quality of life of shareholders—creating jobs and preserving the culture—is commendable.

I have a better appreciation and understanding of the vision that NANA’s early leaders had, especially on business development in the region, which includes Red Dog Mine.

What do you like best about your job?

It’s been a privilege to work for NANA. I’m honored that I’ve been able to contribute to NANA’s success in meeting corporate and shareholder employment goals.

The economic benefits of the mine have been tremendous—for NANA, for the other corporations (through natural resources sharing provisions), and for shareholders (employment and training). Without Red Dog, the region would look very different.

Where did you study or train?

I graduated from Kotzebue High School. Then, I attended George Fox University in Oregon for a couple of years before I enlisted in the Air Force. After my military service, I received a degree in business administration and management from the University of Alaska Anchorage.

I’ve always liked numbers. My favorite subjects were calculus, math, and accounting.

Can you tell us about your time in the Air Force?

I enlisted in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. I served for four years as a communications liaison (primarily top secret), and was stationed in Texas, Illinois, Oregon, and Southeast Asia—in the Philippines, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.

What advice do you have for young shareholders?

NANA has many excellent employment opportunities, so get an education or pursue a trade. Create a better environment for yourself, your family, and the community.

My challenge to the younger generation is to embrace the same attitude that our ancestors lived by, and that my parents taught me: to respect the land and its people, animals, and the environment. Live with integrity, dignity and honor, while maintaining your sense of humor.   

What do you want people to know about NANA?

NANA is an excellent partner in the business world. We have a solid reputation and strong core values.

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Harry Harvey was interviewed by Carol Richards, Director of Brand Communications for NANA Development Corporation.