AFN picks Anchorage for 2006 convention

Native federation to convene in Fairbanks the following year

Posted: Friday, December 09, 2005

FAIRBANKS - The Alaska Federation of Natives convention will return to Fairbanks, but not next year.

AFN directors voted Wednesday to schedule their 2006 convention in Anchorage and return to Fairbanks in 2007.

Fairbanks hosted the convention in October for only the second time since 1966. The other year was 1988.

"The Fairbanks people should be commended for their good, hard work," said state Sen. Albert Kookesh, D-Angoon, an AFN board co-chairman. "That we're coming back is a testimony to it."

"Hey, that's good news," Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Jim Whitaker said. "I think they made a good reasoned decision that was certainly advantageous to us."

"We're disappointed they aren't coming in '06 but glad they're coming in '07," Fairbanks Mayor Steve Thompson said.

Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich was happy the convention would move south for 2006. He had worked to make the move permanent.

"This is a great compromise," he said. "Competition between the two cities creates great conventions."

Begich attended the Fairbanks convention in October and left with ideas to develop for Anchorage. He liked the Golden Heart Greeters, a Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau program that had 90 volunteers greeting people as they arrived by plane in Fairbanks.

AFN shocked Anchorage leaders in 2004 by announcing its decision to move the 2005 convention to Fairbanks. The change was suggested by Interior Alaska Native leaders.

At the time, many delegates and board members said Anchorage businesses seemed to take them for granted. AFN leaders said they wanted to change locations to attract villagers who had not had an opportunity to attend the gathering in Anchorage.

The nearly 3,000 delegates have an estimated economic impact of almost $5 million for the weeklong events.

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