indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Native American Bank - Native people investing in Native communities
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...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Senate committee examines costs of substance abuse on tribes (7/30)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee delays action on land-into-trust (7/30)
Inmate charged with murdering Mississippi Choctaw man in jail (7/30)
Native Sun News: Keystone XL Pipeline protest draws big crowd (7/30)
James Giago Davies: Don't judge anyone's depth of Lakotaness (7/30)
Tara Houska: DC rally puts focus on threats to sacred Oak Flat (7/30)
Sarah Sunshine Manning: Native mother left to die in a jail cell (7/30)
Julian Brave NoiseCat: Native issues you aren't hearing about (7/30)
Peter d'Errico: Seeking action after apology from Pope Francis (7/30)
Suspect in custody over deadly shooting on Crow Reservation (7/30)
Shooting highlights racial tensions on Wind River Reservation (7/30)
Pueblo man goes on trial for brutal murder of Navajo woman (7/30)
Another sentence in Chippewa Cree Tribe corruption scandal (7/30)
Oglala Sioux Tribe on track to complete $16.5M nursing home (7/30)
Quapaw Tribe hosts relatives for annual language conference (7/30)
Former police chief for Swinomish Tribe pleads guilty to theft (7/30)
Winnebago Tribe seeks more time to remove old bank building (7/30)
Opinion: Eastern Cherokee leaders kick reporter out of meeting (7/30)
BIA allows two more New Mexico gaming deals to go into effect (7/30)
Former workers at Choctaw Nation casino plead guilty to theft (7/30)
Indian family in Washington still pursuing casino on trust land (7/30)
Red Lake Nation leader supports sales of liquor at two casinos (7/30)
Mohegan Tribe reports increase in profit from casino enterprise (7/30)
Sen. Barrasso introduces another version of land-into-trust fix (7/29)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe adopts banishment for drug dealers (7/29)
Native Sun News: Rapid City trial ends with no defense witnesses (7/29)
Lakota Country Times: Youth come to Pine Ridge for 'Exposures' (7/29)
Charles Trimble: Being mixed-race Indian and being proud of it (7/29)
Ivan Star: It's up to all of us to keep the Lakota language alive (7/29)
Congress fails to provide funds to help tribes comply with VAWA (7/29)
Suit alleges tribal leaders received kickbacks from lobbying firm (7/29)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe claims DOJ support for marijuana (7/29)
Community on Crow Reservation on lockdown due to shooting (7/29)
Former Chippewa Cree Tribe chair sentenced in corruption case (7/29)
Hillary Clinton refuses to answer questions about Keystone XL (7/29)
Judge upset with delay in drilling dispute affecting sacred land (7/29)
Tribal leaders scale back plans to regulate energy development (7/29)
Fort Belknap Indian Community awaits tests in deaths of bison (7/29)
Column: Northern Cheyenne Tribe took a final stand in Oklahoma (7/29)
Public school board in Indiana votes to eliminate 'Indian' mascot (7/29)
Opinion: Sioux tribes deserve a seat on university naming panel (7/29)
Study outlines impacts of tribal gaming on economy in Oklahoma (7/29)
Judge orders Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe to stop work on casino (7/29)
Fond du Lac Band prevails yet again in long-running casino feud (7/29)
Chukchansi Tribe hosts job fair amid hopes of reopening casino (7/29)
Cowlitz Tribe still working on design plans for contested casino (7/29)
Indian Health Service discusses LGBT issues in historic meeting (7/28)
Haskell students to study fracking on North Dakota reservation (7/28)
Erica Pinto makes history as first woman leader of Jamul Village (7/28)
Native Sun News: Young artist wins top award at Native market (7/28)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe hosts war pony races (7/28)
Steve Russell: The hypocrisy of race and Cherokee citizenship (7/28)
Terese Marie Mailhot: I was raised to be angry at White women (7/28)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Indian Country stuck with bad Republican (7/28)
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.