Ed Thomas: A new tribal-state relationship needed for Alaska

Participants in the Rural Governance Commission. Photo from RGC

Citing the work of the Rural Governance Commission, Ed Thomas, president emeritus of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes, and consultant Veronica A. Slajer call for a new model of tribal-state relations in Alaska:
Rural governance is important unfinished business in the State of Alaska. The 1999 report by the Alaska Commission on Rural Governance and Empowerment charted pathways to remedy governance inequities between rural and urban Alaska. Fifteen years later, 51 Alaskans revisited the work of the original commission. The group (11 of the original commissioners and 40 individuals from all parts of the state) who gathered in December 2013 agreed that the original report to Alaska’s governor could have been drafted either 50 years ago, five years ago, or five weeks ago because little has changed.

Partnerships between Alaska and Alaska tribal governments was a top recommendation of both the original 1999 report and the 2013 report. Both identified encouraging, yet isolated, examples of partnerships between the state, local rural governments and Alaska tribes. One of the most recent and promising examples is a three-year Memorandum of Agreement signed in August by the State of Alaska and the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. The MOA provides for “a systematic review of issues and the programs offered by Central Council and the State of Alaska for opportunities to work together on issues of economic development, education, energy, jobs, public safety, transportation, (and) workforce training.” The MOA also calls for officials and representatives to be appointed to serve as principal points of liaison and to form working groups to share information, review significant issues and identify the specific opportunities.

The state and THCC have strengthened this historic MOA by partnering with Microsoft to provide valuable technical education and vocational training through both existing state and tribal programs, and plan to collaborate on an information technology annual conference, proving once again that partnering with tribes and tribal organizations can yield positive results for all involved.

Get the Story:
Edward K Thomas and Veronica A. Slajer: Rural Governance Commission calls for a new state, tribal relationship (The Juneau Empire 12/2)

Another Opinion:
Mara Kimmel and Karlin Itchoak: Action needed on rural governance (The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner 1/22)

Also Today:
Report: ‘Rural Governance Remains Unfinished in Alaska’ (APRN 11/20)

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