Opinion

Opinion: Governor's no-show at NCAI was embarrassing to Alaska






Cultural night at the recent National Congress of American Indians mid-year session in Anchorage, Alaska. June 10, 2014. Photo from Facebook

Professor Jenny Bell-Jones wonders why Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell (R) ignored the recent mid-year session of the National Congress of American Indians:
While arguments and insults are traded back and forth regarding Governor Sean Parnell’s absence at the National Congress of American Indians midterm conference, held in Anchorage June 8th through the 11th, the real problem lies in the shadows. The governor of the State of Alaska either declined to appear or failed to appear at an extremely important meeting. His failure to appear and the ramifications of this failure are far more important than where he was and whether he gave organizers any warning.

NCAI is not some kind of grass-roots social group. It is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization. Founded in 1944, it predates the existence of the State of Alaska by some 15 years. It maintains an embassy building in Washington D.C., where it regularly hosts meetings with international indigenous leaders and others. It is a well-respected organization that works hard to serve the interests of tribal communities and their governments. It maintains important partnerships with major foundations, the federal government, state governments, major business interests including prominent banking firms, and many individuals in addition to tribal governments around the United States.

The Anchorage conference was attended by tribal heads of state, members of Congress, representatives from the U.S. State Department, attorneys and business leaders from around the nation. There was a representative from the United Nations in attendance. The State of Utah considered the event sufficiently important to send the director of its Department of Indian Affairs, and I have no doubt that other states also sent representatives. Tribal leaders discussed, among other things, education, economic development, health-care, law-enforcement and water and fishing rights. All of these subjects are extremely important concerns in Alaska.

Get the Story:
Jenny Bell-Jones: Parnell should have sent state official to NCAI in his place (The Alaska Dispatch News 7/7)

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