indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
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...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
White House to host first-ever Native youth conference on July 9 (4/24)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne Tribe fires casino manager (4/24)
Lakota Country Times: Timothy Standing Soldier passes on at 54 (4/24)
Mark Trahant: Invest in our Native youth for long-term success (4/24)
James Giago Davies: True believerism and comic book solutions (4/24)
Brandon Ecoffey: Oglala Sioux Tribe must act on legal marijuana (4/24)
Ed Rice: Cleveland team comes up with excuse for racist mascot (4/24)
White House Blog: Recognizing tribal Climate Action Champions (4/24)
House subcommittee looks at poor conditions at Indian schools (4/24)
Navajo actress was put in darker makeup for Adam Sandler film (4/24)
Eastern Cherokee group plans lawsuit over tribal council raises (4/24)
Column: Commission takes on truth and reconciliation in Maine (4/24)
Senate votes to confirm Loretta Lynch as next attorney general (4/24)
ICT interview with confirmed NIGC Chairman Jonodev Chaudhuri (4/24)
Dave Palermo: Tribes in California assert right to Internet poker (4/24)
Pokagon Band casino remains a concern for Indiana lawmakers (4/24)
Pojoaque Pueblo places casino manager on administrative leave (4/24)
White Earth Nation promotes tribal members in casino positions (4/24)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux student vies for Miss Indian World (4/23)
Lakota Country Times: Tribal citizens named to education board (4/23)
Ivan Star: Struggling with the warrior heritage in Indian Country (4/23)
Dana Lone Elk: Lakota people still carry on fight of Crazy Horse (4/23)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee passes bill to renew NAHASDA (4/23)
BIA faces fire over latest reforms to federal recognition process (4/23)
Opinion: First Lady brings truth with remarks about Native youth (4/23)
Incoming leader of Navajo Nation stresses importance of youth (4/23)
Native actors storm off set of Adam Sandler film in New Mexico (4/23)
Marijuana seen as new frontier in tribal economic development (4/23)
Senate approves anti-trafficking measure with tribal provisions (4/23)
Interview with Gyasi Ross about spoken word release Isskootsik (4/23)
Blackfeet Nation launches campaign to ban drilling at sacred site (4/23)
Cherokee Nation celebrates births of first calves from bison herd (4/23)
Burns Paiute Tribe investigates fire that destroyed two bulidings (4/23)
Kaibab Paiute Tribe welcomes designation as 1st dark sky nation (4/23)
University of Minnesota sees surge in Native student enrollment (4/23)
Editorial: Minnesota tribes work together to address treaty rights (4/23)
Editorial: Maine governor fails to treat sovereign tribes as equals (4/23)
Brazil to host inaugural World Indigenous Games this September (4/23)
Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation probes woman's death at casino (4/23)
Tohono O'odham Nation vows defense for off-reservation casino (4/23)
Seminole Tribe talks with lawmakers about Class III casino deal (4/23)
Editorial: State needs assurances from Quapaw Tribe on gaming (4/23)
Native Sun News: Tribes take DOI to task over grizzly bear policy (4/22)
Native Sun News: Lakota rodeo legend Howard Hunter passes on (4/22)
Bill John Baker: Cherokee Nation language programs are working (4/22)
White House Blog: Improving the lives of Native American youth (4/22)
Bob Gough: Indigenous people most affected by climate change (4/22)
Duane Champagne: Indigenous accommodation for colonialism (4/22)
Audio from Senate Indian Affairs Committee on transportation (4/22)
Navajo Nation voters choose Russell Begaye as next president (4/22)
Appeals court sides with Indian inmate in religious rights case (4/22)
Kashia Band interested in timber not marijuana on new lands (4/22)
Kaw Nation to return to ancestral land in Kansas for ceremony (4/22)
Moapa Band to host Further Future music festival next month (4/22)
Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe runs into opposition to fish hatchery (4/22)
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.