Resolutions at annual convention focus on tribal sovereignty

Posted: Monday, October 28, 2002

ANCHORAGE - Delegates to the Alaska Federation of Natives annual convention voted over the weekend to approve resolutions to protect tribal sovereignty.

One of the resolutions getting the most attention directs delegates to implement the "Native Rights Protection Plan." The resolution says AFN and its member organizations will try to unify the Native community to:

• Achieve maximum self-determination for Alaska Natives.

• Respond effectively to state and Congressional threats to undermine and redefine Alaska Native policy.

• Solve the impasse over Alaska Native hunting and fishing rights.

A plan is needed because Alaska tribal recognition and rights are being attacked on the state and federal levels, according to the resolution. It says actions by the Justice Department if adopted by the Bush administration and the courts could jeopardize programs benefiting the social, economic and physical well-being of more than 100,000 Alaska Natives.

Two Native corporations pledged $25,000 each to help implement the resolution.

The resolution was one of several voted on by convention delegates that addressed the issue of tribal sovereignty.

The annual convention, which ended Saturday, brought together representatives from more than 200 Alaska tribes, as well as regional corporations and nonprofit groups.

Other resolutions concerning tribal sovereignty ask the federally funded Denali Commission to respect contracts negotiated by tribes; oppose efforts by the state to revoke the sovereign status of 229 tribes to restructure them into 13 regional tribal organizations; and oppose political efforts to terminate the federally recognized tribal status of Native villages.

On Friday, U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, an Alaska Republican, told delegates Alaska tribes should consider consolidating into regions. Stevens said federal funds are shrinking and current funding formulas aren't working.

AFN president Julie Kitka encouraged delegates to resist efforts to change their political status without their consent.

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