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
Health Coverage for American Indians and Alaska Natives
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:
Navajo Nation in shock after arrest made in 11-year-old girl's death (5/4)
Bureau of Indian Affairs updates list of federally recognized tribes (5/4)
Bureau of Indian Affairs finalizes rule for burial assistance program (5/4)
National Indian Gaming Commission selects first vice chair in years (5/4)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe assists vets with housing (5/4)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne Tribe pushed to hold election (5/4)
Jim Kent: Governor of South Dakota blissfully ignorant about tribes (5/4)
Ernestine Chasing Hawk: Who made the decision to kill Anna Mae? (5/4)
Suzan Shown Harjo: Delete 'off the reservation' from our discourse (5/4)
Simon Moya-Smith: Donald Trump sees Indian people going 'wild' (5/4)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Native issues are afterthought for candidates (5/4)
Blackfeet Nation to see $107M from Cobell land buy-back program (5/4)
Democrat Bernie Sanders staying in race as last Republicans quit (5/4)
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community fails to sell governor on casino (5/4)
Editorial: Work with Cloverdale Rancheria rather than fight casino (5/4)
Lakota Country Times: Governor lectures tribe about sacred lands (5/3)
Native Sun News: Navajo Nation chapter sues tribe over water deal (5/3)
Vi Waln: Rosebud Sioux Reservation plagued by abuse and assault (5/3)
James Giago Davies: Propaganda machine protects racist mascot (5/3)
Cronkite News: Sports teams turn to tribes for naming rights deals (5/3)
Steven Newcomb: Tricking the original nations into reconciliation (5/3)
Rosebud man selected as leader of South Dakota State University (5/3)
Klamath Tribes report results of election for leadership positions (5/3)
Leaders of Louisiana tribes in conflict over $48M relocation grant (5/3)
Choctaw Nation ordered to pay $11M for casino bus crash deaths (5/3)
Arizona reports 5.1 percent decline in casino revenue from tribes (5/3)
Timbisha Shoshone Tribe casino up for discussion at city meeting (5/3)
Schaghticoke Tribal Nation hoping to keep gaming lawsuit going (5/3)
Blackfeet Nation welcomes Interior Secretary Jewell to homeland (5/2)
Native Sun News: Family confronts man linked to woman's death (5/2)
Lakota Country Times: State shows cards in fight over sacred site (5/2)
Clara Caufield: Living in a state of emergency on my reservation (5/2)
Mark Trahant: Native newspapers and presidential endorsements (5/2)
Mark Charles: Politicians haven't learned from our genocidal past (5/2)
Kevin Washburn: Land buy-back program benefits Indian Country (5/2)
Ruth Hopkins: Tell indigenous youth that their lives really matter (5/2)
Peter d'Errico: Suicides are outcome of intergenerational trauma (5/2)
Indian Health Service reaches agreements for troubled facilities (5/2)
Native girl survives night alone in forest with help of three dogs (5/2)
Gathering of Nations wraps up with crowning of Miss Indian World (5/2)
University leader doesn't see seal that excludes Natives as racist (5/2)
New bill takes aim at casinos opposed by rival tribes in California (5/2)
Cloverdale Rancheria wins approval of casino land-into-trust bid (5/2)
Mashpee Wampanaog Tribe overcomes hurdles with casino plan (5/2)
Cowlitz Tribe aims to hire locals as casino construction continues (5/2)
Gathering scheduled in June at site of former BIA insane asylum (4/29)
Native Sun News: Tribal college student overcomes challenges (4/29)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Ancestors are gone but language lives on (4/29)
Mike Rounds: Eliminate 'hateful' and 'paternalistic' federal laws (4/29)
Harlan McKosato: White privilege fuels Donald Trump's fanbase (4/29)
Indian Health Service faulted for lengthy waits for patient care (4/29)
Mescalero Apache woman to compete for Miss United States (4/29)
Environmental Protection Agency pays little to tribes for spill (4/29)
Measure to declare bison as official mammal ready for Obama (4/29)
John Wayne's negative views about tribes resurface in debate (4/29)
Chumash Tribe picks Kenneth Kahn as first new leader in years (4/29)
Mille Lacs Band announces upgrades as casino marks 25 years (4/29)
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.