indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Stevens unapologetic in speech to Alaska Natives
Monday, October 27, 2003

Saying "sovereignty is not the answer" for Alaska's tribes, Sen. Ted Stevens (R) on Friday defended himself against accusations of racism before the largest gathering of Alaska Natives.

In a videotaped speech to the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN), the powerful chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee sought to counter controversy over remarks that have Native leaders fuming. Pointing to his record on Native issues, which includes telling white-owned businesses to take down their "No Natives Allowed" signs to bringing millions in federal dollars to the state, he said he was hurt by the criticism.

"To be called a 'racist' after more than 50 years of dedicated service to Alaskans, particularly Alaska Natives, is something I will not forget," Stevens said on the tape. "It is a stain on my soul."

But Alaska's senior senator was unapologetic over his push to change the way more than 220 tribes in the state receive federal funds. Stevens has authored legislation that would shift the money to the state and to regional Native entities, a move tribal leaders and their advocates see as an attack on their sovereign rights.

Stevens framed the debate a different way. Not only would exercising sovereignty create jurisdictional disputes, he told delegates that they wouldn't be able to make decisions affecting their own land "without Uncle Sam's permission" and said the Bureau of Indian Affairs would mismanage their assets.

"Tribal sovereignty is not the answer to the problems Alaska Natives face," he said. "It merely brings authority to some, power to others, and legal fees to advocates that bring incessant litigation."

Earlier this month, Stevens told the Alaska media that it was impossible to fund each and every village due to budget constraints. That explanation, while disputed by Native leaders, wasn't what got him in trouble. It was his statement that tribes threaten the state by exerting their sovereignty. A comment about the exploding Native population didn't help either.

Friday's speech to the AFN annual convention, held at the Egan Center in Anchorage, did little to quiet the controversy. Native leaders saw Stevens as overly defensive and weren't satisfied with the justification he gave for his campaign.

"The services that we provide currently are in jeopardy," Mike Williams, president of Alaska's Inter-Tribal Council, told KNBA FM, which provided continuous coverage of the AFN meeting. "Suggesting that the state of Alaska has a better answer to our problems. . . I disagree with that."

In a speech to delegates on Thursday, AFN president Julie Kitka said she was alarmed by Stevens' proposals. But she also said it was up to Alaska Natives to respond to some of the issues he has raised. She called on the creation of a "blue ribbon" federal commission to examine them.

On Saturday, AFN passed a resolution endorsing the "Commission on Fiscal and Governmental Relations." Composed of tribal, state and federal officials. it's task would be to provide recommendations on improving delivery of federal services to Alaska Natives.

Keeping the funding issue separate from tribal status is a critical one, Kitka said. But in his speech, Stevens traced the source of his concern to the Bureau of Indian Affairs' decision to recognize every Alaska tribe.

"It's a problem that developed because the former director of BIA, Ada Deer, decreed that every Alaska Native village was a tribe, leading many to assert there are now 231 Alaskan tribes," he told delegates.

In October 1993, the BIA placed Alaska's tribes on the list of federally recognized entities, ensuring them equal status with tribes in the lower 48 states. But Alaska tribes differ from their counterparts in important ways, including small membership and limited territorial jurisdiction.

Nevertheless, tribal leaders in the state have sought to assert their powers by establishing housing departments, court systems and law enforcement units, among other activities. The tribes provided critical services, particularly in rural areas where state dollars don't reach.

Through a rider in an appropriations bill, Stevens is cutting off federal funds for village courts and law enforcement. The language forces the Department of Justice to send the money to the state instead.

Separately, Stevens is considering another rider that would redirect federal housing funds to regional Native organizations. Some are affiliated with for-profit corporations that Stevens helped create with the passage of the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. The corporations are not tribes.

The AFN convention ended Saturday. An estimated 4,000 Natives from across the state attended three days of meetings, speeches and cultural events. A separate conference for youth and elders was held Monday through Wednesday.

Relevant Documents:
Transcript: Sen. Stevens to Alaska Federation of Natives (October 24, 2003)

Relevant Links:
Alaska Federation of Natives - http://www.nativefederation.org/flash.html
Sen. Ted Stevens - http://stevens.senate.gov

Related Stories:
Stevens rider would benefit Native corporation (10/24)
Native leader disputes 'phantom' tribe label (10/24)
Murkowski, now governor, addresses AFN (10/24)
Murkowski, now governor, addresses AFN (10/24)
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...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Police officers who shot Indian teen get medals (8/28)
Cara Cowan Watts: Laying the groundwork for college scholarship (8/28)
Rudolph Ryser: Indigenous nations need leverage to bring change (8/28)
DOI extends $100M in Cobell buy-back offers on two reservations (8/28)
Cobell buy-backs could return over 38K acres to tribe in Montana (8/28)
Five-year-old Navajo boy sent home from school for his long hair (8/28)
Three charged with murder for death of Mississippi Choctaw man (8/28)
Lummi Nation seeks cooperation after ruling in treaty rights case (8/28)
Artist Gregg Deal takes on Indian mascots for performance piece (8/28)
Sports announcer won't use Washington NFL team's name on air (8/28)
Recruiter from Spokane Tribe's college selected for Peirone Prize (8/28)
Southern Ute Tribe invests $2B in big energy production system (8/28)
County hires lobbying firm to oppose federal recognition reforms (8/28)
Tohono O'odham Nation breaks ground for off-reservation casino (8/28)
Cherokee Nation starts construction on casino at Indian allotment (8/28)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe responds to opponents in casino suit (8/28)
Jamul Band continues work on $360M casino after victory in court (8/28)
Nebraska Supreme Court hears arguments over gaming initiative (8/28)
Tim Giago: Greedy lawyers and government ruin Cobell settlement (8/27)
Native Sun News: Facility in Montana set to house Indian inmates (8/27)
Gerald Gipp: National strategy needed to reform Indian education (8/27)
9th Circuit won't stop repatriation of Kumeyaay Nation ancestors (8/27)
Bill John Baker: Cherokee Nation puts youth to work for summer (8/27)
Gabe Galanda: Academia won't tackle tribal disenrollment issue (8/27)
Misty Lynn Ellingburg: 'Four Winds' is a literary magazine for us (8/27)
Declination rates for Indian Country crime steady for third year (8/27)
DOJ awards grants to address violence in Bakken energy region (8/27)
Another pipeline spills saltwater on reservation in North Dakota (8/27)
Navajo voters oust incumbent president Ben Shelly in primary (8/27)
Once rival factions of Chukchansi Tribe agree to 2015 election (8/27)
Three brothers on the ballot for Passamaquoddy Tribe election (8/27)
Daily Beast: Border Patrol runs free on Tohono O'odham Nation (8/27)
KTOO: Cook Inlet Tribe turns to video game to represent culture (8/27)
Former IHS information security officer convicted for child porn (8/27)
Crow Reservation murder defendant to make court appearance (8/27)
Texas authorities seek information about skull at Goodwill store (8/27)
Cherokee Nation police find man who disappeared 37 years ago (8/27)
9th Circuit sets oral arguments in Big Lagoon Rancheria dispute (8/27)
Forest County Potawatomi Tribe cuts gaming payment to state (8/27)
State raises concerns about Chumash Tribe's casino expansion (8/27)
Cowlitz Tribe sees setback in infrastructure plan for casino site (8/27)
Native Sun News: Tribes take on Air Force over expansion plan (8/26)
Charles Trimble: Pine Ridge -- the Hollywood of Indian Country (8/26)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Iroquois on both sides for War of 1812 (8/26)
Heather Kendall-Miller: GOP candidate a threat to Native rights (8/26)
Fired Oglala Sioux Tribe police officer indicted for taser incident (8/26)
Sen. Jon Tester to hold session on trafficking in Indian Country (8/26)
Hoopa Valley Tribe takes action due to large number of arsons (8/26)
Non-recognized tribe in Texas hails ruling in eagle feather case (8/26)
Jodi Lee Spotted Bear: Supporting Native language immersion (8/26)
Proposal filed for Wampanoag language public charter school (8/26)
Gila River Indian Community mourns loss of first female leader (8/26)
Jose Barreiro: Indigenous leaders hold historic meeting in Cuba (8/26)
Tribes use reservations to restore rare and endangered species (8/26)
Rival factions unite in takeover attempt within Chukchansi Tribe (8/26)
Darlene Miller seeks to be first female Seneca Nation president (8/26)
7th Circuit bars tribal jurisdiction in Indian payday loan dispute (8/26)
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.