The Secretary may, on request made within one year of December 18, 1971, by representative and responsible leaders of the Native associations listed in subsection (a), merge two or more of the twelve regions: Provided, That the twelve regions may not be reduced to less than seven, and there may be no fewer than seven Regional Corporations.
If a majority of all eligible Natives eighteen years of age or older who are not permanent residents of Alaska elect, pursuant to section 1604(c) of this title, to be enrolled in a thirteenth region for Natives who are non-residents of Alaska, the Secretary shall establish such a region for the benefit of the Natives who elected to be enrolled therein, and they may establish a Regional Corporation pursuant to this chapter.
Five incorporators within each region, named by the Native association in the region, shall incorporate under the laws of Alaska a Regional Corporation to conduct business for profit, which shall be eligible for the benefits of this chapter so long as it is organized and functions in accordance with this chapter. The articles of incorporation shall include provisions necessary to carry out the terms of this chapter.
The original articles of incorporation and bylaws shall be approved by the Secretary before they are filed, and they shall be submitted for approval within eighteen months after December 18, 1971. The articles of incorporation may not be amended during the Regional Corporation’s first five years without the approval of the Secretary. The Secretary may withhold approval under this section if in his judgment inequities among Native individuals or groups of Native individuals would be created.
The management of the Regional Corporation shall be vested in a board of directors, all of whom, with the exception of the initial board, shall be stockholders over the age of eighteen. The number, terms, and method of election of members of the board of directors shall be fixed in the articles of incorporation or bylaws of the Regional Corporation.
During the five years following December 18, 1971, not less than 10% of all corporate funds received by each of the twelve Regional Corporations under section 1605 of this title (Alaska Native Fund), and under subsection (i) (revenues from the timber resources and subsurface estate patented to it pursuant to this chapter), and all other net income, shall be distributed among the stockholders of the twelve Regional Corporations. Not less than 45% of funds from such sources during the first five-year period, and 50% thereafter, shall be distributed among the Village Corporations in the region and the class of stockholders who are not residents of those villages, as provided in subsection  to it. In the case of the thirteenth Regional Corporation, if organized, not less than 50% of all corporate funds received under section 1605 of this title shall be distributed to the stockholders.
Funds distributed among the Village Corporations shall be divided among them according to the ratio that the number of shares of stock registered on the books of the Regional Corporation in the names of residents of each village bears to the number of shares of stock registered in the names of residents in all villages.
Funds distributed to a Village Corporation may be withheld until the village has submitted a plan for the use of the money that is satisfactory to the Regional Corporation. The Regional Corporation may require a village plan to provide for joint ventures with other villages, and for joint financing of projects undertaken by the Regional Corporation that will benefit the region generally. In the event of disagreement over the provisions of the plan, the issues in disagreement shall be submitted to arbitration, as shall be provided for in the articles of incorporation of the Regional Corporation.
When funds are distributed among Village Corporations in a region, an amount computed as follows shall be distributed as dividends to the class of stockholders who are not residents of those villages: The amount distributed as dividends shall bear the same ratio to the amount distributed among the Village Corporations that the number of shares of stock registered on the books of the Regional Corporation in the names of nonresidents of villages bears to the number of shares of stock registered in the names of village residents: Provided, That an equitable portion of the amount distributed as dividends may be withheld and combined with Village Corporation funds to finance projects that will benefit the region generally.
The accounts of the Regional Corporation shall be audited annually in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards by independent certified public accountants or independent licensed public accountants, certified or licensed by a regulatory authority of the State or the United States. The audits shall be conducted at the place or places where the accounts of the Regional Corporation are normally kept. All books, accounts, financial records, reports, files, and other papers, things, or property belonging to or in use by the Regional Corporation and necessary to facilitate the audits shall be available to the person or persons conducting the audits; and full facilities for verifying transactions with the balances or securities held by depositories, fiscal agent, and custodians shall be afforded to such person or persons. Each audit report or a fair and reasonably detailed summary thereof shall be transmitted to each stockholder.
In the event of any conflict between the provisions of this section and the laws of the State of Alaska, the provisions of this section shall prevail.
The authority of a Native Corporation to provide benefits to its shareholders who are Natives or descendants of Natives or to its shareholders’ immediate family members who are Natives or descendants of Natives to promote the health, education, or welfare of such shareholders or family members is expressly authorized and confirmed. Eligibility for such benefits need not be based on share ownership in the Native Corporation and such benefits may be provided on a basis other than pro rata based on share ownership.