indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Indian Law Online Master Degree - University of Tulsa College of Law
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Alaska Natives call for unity at annual convention
Friday, October 24, 2003

The largest gathering of Alaska Natives kicked off on Thursday with a rousing message to stay united in the face of challenges to Native rights.

The annual Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) convention has drawn thousands to Anchorage for three days of meetings at the Egan Center. On opening day, delegates heard from AFN President Julie Kitka, Gov. Frank Murkowski (R) and state and federal officials on the need to work together to solve common problems. Jobs, education and health were high on the agenda.

But it was an address from Jackie Johnson, the executive director of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), that drove the point home. Johnson, a member of Alaska's Tlingit Tribe, said she was speaking from the heart when she noted the state's indigenous people were deeply divided into two camps: traditional tribal governments and for-profit corporations.

"In recent years, we've been seeing the increasing friction between our tribal governments and corporations," she said. "But at the end of the day, these are merely two sides of our own selves, two elements that are absolutely critical to our survival, two structures that must have shared goals if we are to survive as distinct people."

As a former tribal council member and a sitting member of the board of directors of a regional corporation, Johnson acknowledged that tribes and corporations have "fundamentally different goals." "Yet let there be no mistake, we need both voices to fully protect the interest of our people," she said.

The remarks served to highlight a legislative proposal to change how Alaska's 220-plus tribes receive federal funds. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), the powerful chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, wants to redirect tribal money to the state or regional organizations -- perhaps the corporations -- because he says not every village can expect to have their own justice system or housing departments, particularly when times are tight.

The proposal, contained in riders to appropriations bills, has sparked concern among Native leaders and their advocates. It didn't help when Stevens, speaking to the Alaska media, said the Native sovereignty movement threatened the state.

"You are self-governing, self-determining peoples living in tribes throughout Alaska and that poses no threat to the state," said Myra Munson, an attorney whose work for Alaska Natives earned her this year's Denali Award, AFN's highest honor for non-Natives. "It poses no threat to the non-Native citizens of this state."

Many Natives feel the push to change how they receive services is an attack on their federal recognition. The Bush administration has been asked by Alaska Republicans to reconsider the status of each tribe. But Kitka said AFN would fight to keep the tribal question separate from the funding one.

"We cannot afford to have anyone sit on the sidelines because nobody can say it's a tribal problem, it's a non-profit problem, or it's this or that," she said. "We going to need everybody's help. The only way we're going to survive these challenges is if we pull together and have the most united Native community we have ever had."

The unity theme was echoed by Johnson, who called on Native leaders from the tribes and corporations to respond to the funding issue by developing solutions of their own. "If we let our tribal status be diminished or taken from us, if we let others control or shape our governmental structures and our relationship to the federal government," she told delegates, "I believe that every generation to come will look back to this time with regret and shame."

"Indecision is not an option," she added. If we do not decide, others will decide for us."

AFN runs through Saturday. KNBA 90.3 FM carries live audio converage through http://www.knba.org. Live video is also available through a link on the AFN web site at http://www.nativefederation.org/frames/2003convention.html.

Relevant Links:
Alaska Federation of Natives - http://www.nativefederation.org/flash.html

Related Stories:
Editorial: Alaska cannot afford full tribal sovereignty (10/23)
Stevens won't back away from Native funding issue (10/23)
Alaska Natives discuss village law enforcement (10/23)
Live coverage of AFN convention available (10/23)
Alaska Native: 'We became the other N-word' (10/21)
Alaska Natives meeting for annual conference (10/20)
Editorial: Stevens should apologize for remarks (10/13)
Murkowski won't offer opinion on Native riders (10/13)
Stevens blames sovereignty push on lower 48 group (10/9)
Stevens remarks on Alaska Natives draw fire (10/7)
Alaska Natives oppose limits to tribal court funding (09/23)
Alaska court hears suit on village law enforcement (09/18)
Bill cuts funds to Alaska tribal justice systems (09/10)
Alaska Natives debunk federal funding myths (05/07)
Stevens files Alaska Native gaming rider (01/24)
Alaska Natives press unity on sovereignty (10/25)
Stevens: Too many Alaska Native tribes (10/24)
AFN events kick off today in Anchorage (10/21)
GOP request has Alaska Natives fuming (1/28)
Stevens: 'Problem' with Alaska Natives (01/29)

Copyright 2000-2003 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: A ride-along with a South Dakota county sheriff (4/17)
Lakota Country Times: Sen. Tester pushes for tribal college funds (4/17)
Native Sun News: Walk hits uranium mining sites on reservations (4/17)
Brandon Ecoffey: Vincent Brewer was a family man and a cowboy (4/17)
Delphine Red Shirt: Restoring our sacred peak to its original name (4/17)
Clara Caufield: A faithful servant to the Northern Cheyenne Tribe (4/17)
Steve Russell: Shocking students with the truth about US history (4/17)
Sunnie Clahchischiligi: Get on board with Ho-Chunk Nation player (4/17)
Navajo Nation candidates enter final stretch of bumpy campaign (4/17)
Man from Tulalip Tribes enters not guilty plea to firearms charge (4/17)
Colorado lawmaker continues tradition of bolo ties on Capitol Hill (4/17)
Editorial: End discrimination against Native Americans in Michigan (4/17)
Editorial: Virginia's tribes need federal recognition from Congress (4/17)
Indiana lawmakers not so welcoming to Pokagon Band casino bid (4/17)
Arizona agency threatens to block Tohono O'odham Nation casino (4/17)
Kansas seeks injunction to stop Quapaw Tribe gaming expansion (4/17)
Mohegan Tribe's casino enterprise named one of best employers (4/17)
Native Sun News: Senate field hearing focuses on tribes and coal (4/16)
Lakota Country Times: Program brings healthy food to Pine Ridge (4/16)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Death rituals among the Mohawk people (4/16)
James Giago Davies: Just another crazy breed Lakota in the IHS (4/16)
Karin Eagle: UNITY media summit draws people to reservation (4/16)
Walt Lamar: Addicts in Indian Country turning to spiked heroin (4/16)
Congress passes renewal of Indian Country diabetes program (4/16)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee takes up tribal labor measure (4/16)
Sen. Barrasso highlights 100 days of work on Indian legislation (4/16)
Alaska to make changes to Indian Child Welfare Act procedures (4/16)
Lower Brule Sioux Tribe council meeting ends in shouting match (4/16)
Manitoba agrees to pay funeral bill for murdered Native woman (4/16)
New York City approves marker where Indian slaves were sold (4/16)
President of Rosebud Sioux Tribe removed after ethics hearing (4/16)
Colorado House approves bill to restrict use of Indian mascots (4/16)
Lumbee Tribe remains in long quest to gain federal recognition (4/16)
Senate votes to confirm Jonodev Chaudhuri as leader of NIGC (4/16)
Letter raises legal issues for new tribal casinos in Connecticut (4/16)
Mohegan Tribe went to South Korea to discuss potential casino (4/16)
Quapaw Tribe faces opposition over possible casino in Arkansas (4/16)
Colville Tribes plan ceremonial debut of $68M casino next month (4/16)
Rincon Band contributes $9.5M to highway projects near casino (4/16)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux district endorses marijuana (4/15)
Native Sun News: Candidates to debate on tribal college campus (4/15)
Native Sun News: Former police chief runs for Rapid City mayor (4/15)
Mark Trahant: Millions of Native Americans wait on health care (4/15)
Dana Lone Elk: Francis Pumpkin Seed always had a bright smile (4/15)
Stephen Pevar: Tribes and families fight back with ICWA lawsuit (4/15)
Paul Moorehead: Tribes need greater control of their own lands (4/15)
Obama to visit city near Sisseton Wahpeton Reservation in May (4/15)
Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribes host honoring for Suzan Shown Harjo (4/15)
DOI issues $10.5M in offers on Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation (4/15)
Navajo Nation signs buy-back cooperative agreement with DOI (4/15)
Indian arts organization seeks replacement for top executive (4/15)
National Park Service releases eight grants for NAGPRA efforts (4/15)
Bill introduced in Senate to support placing woman on $20 bill (4/15)
Judge Judy chooses reservation school for graduation speech (4/15)
Museum named after famed Pueblo woman artist closes doors (4/15)
Quick justice for assault of woman on Chitimacha Reservation (4/15)
WBUR: Reporter discusses youth suicide in Oglala Sioux Tribe (4/15)
Editorial: Agua Caliente Band can help ease tensions over land (4/15)
BIA hears from public on Pokagon Band gaming plan in Indiana (4/15)
Fond du Lac Band spars with city over services for urban casino (4/15)
Seminole Tribe faces complaints over business deals at casino (4/15)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.