Alaska Federation of Natives meeting draws big political crowd

A scene from the Alaska Federation of Natives annual convention in October 2014. Photo from Facebook

The Alaska Federation of Natives is holding a routine board meeting next week but the event has managed to attract a slew of federal and state officials.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, Gov. Bill Walker (I), Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott (D), who is Native, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) and Rep. Don Young (R) are all scheduled to speak at the February 17 winter retreat in Kotzebue, a small city known as the gateway to the Arctic. A number of state lawmakers are also slated to attend.

Jewell's presence appears to have heightened interest in the meeting. State officials want to talk to her about the Obama administration's plan to designate the entire Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness, a move that would bar energy development.

State officials are also interested in the new land-into-trust rule for Alaska that was finalized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Walker's administration has asked a federal appeals court to delay proceedings while they develop a position on the matter.

Get the Story:
Visit by Interior's Sally Jewell to Kotzebue is magnet for Alaska politicians (The Alaska Dispatch News 2/6)

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