I was sent this press release for an event I didn't know was going on, right here, this week. There are some huge issues they're putting on the table, and I will be very interested to see the outcomes of this meeting, who gets involved, and what they say. If you are attending, please let me know! I'd like to post your thoughts, what you see!
Mike Williams, Chairman of the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council announced today the convening of a special meeting of Alaska’s 229 federally recognized tribes on May 26-28, 2009 at Anchorage, Alaska to take up “issues that we can no longer ignore; issues that are undermining our governments, endangering our Way of Life, and putting in jeopardy the very future of our children and grandchildren.”
According to Williams, this gathering of Alaska’s tribes will “begin the necessary task of seeking the restoration of our hunting and fishing rights along with our rights to self-governance which have been compromised and rendered useless by adverse court decisions, hostile “riders” written into federal budgets, and executive orders without the input of Alaska’s federally recognized tribes.”
Williams said that the issues to be taken up include:
1.By Congressional act, the repeal of language in Section 4(b) of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act which purports to have “extinguished” Alaska Native hunting and fishing rights.
2.The imposition of a moratorium on Bering Sea trawler fishing until such time the impact of this activity is better understood by the scientific community, or, at the very least, the immediate lowering of the Yukon King Salmon by-catch by the trawler fleet to 20,000 or less of King Salmon.
3.By congressional action, the designation of village corporate lands as “Indian Country” under the jurisdiction of the tribes that created them through PL 92-203, vacating, in affect, the U.S. Supreme Court decision in ALASKA v. NATIVE VILLAGE OF VENETIE
4.By congressional act, the removal of Alaska as a PL-280 state as this designation hamstrings the tribes in their fight against crime, illegal alcohol and drug trafficking in their communities and nullifies their inherent responsibility to protect and care for their members and to enforce and adjudicate laws they may have enacted for the general good.
5.By congressional act, the return of the responsibility of educating Alaska Native children to the tribes and to the US Bureau of Indian Education.
Williams, further states that The Executive Council of AITC has decided that Alaska Natives have “a small window of opportunity made possible by the election of a US President who, more than any other previous President, would understand what it means to be discriminated against, marginalized, disenfranchised and as mired in poverty as Alaska Natives have become.” Williams says that “an opportunity like this may not come our way again to restore the birthright that has been lost to our children.” Williams further states that Alaska Natives “owes it to our nation to assist it in doing the “right thing” by its first citizens, of which we are the last.”
Willams says that the issues determined to be paramount for the continued viability of Alaska Native cultures, communities and governments will be brought to the mid-year convention of the National Congress of American Indians in June to enlist the support of America’s 500+ Indian tribes. He also says that the Inter-Tribal Council, “with the support and assistance of the National Congress of American Indians” will set up meetings with the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, the Alaska Congressional delegation and with President Barack Obama to enlist their support.
Williams says that what the Alaska Native tribes are hoping to achieve “will require unity, and no less an effort than the one that Alaska Natives put forth to secure title to their lands.” The tribal leaders summit, entitled “Protecting Sovereignty & Our Way of Life,” will be held at the Millennium Hotel in Anchorage, Alaska on May 26-28, 2009. All Alaska Native tribes and ANCSA corporations have been invited.
For information: call the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council at 563-9334