Category Archives: Author: alaskaindigenous

The Politics of Dispossession – Alaska Context

For the past 10 years I have closely read federal Indian law, from the Supreme Court “Marshall Trilogy” cases to the latest amendments made to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971.  I have even compared Aboriginal law and policies between Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.  There are many similarities between all of the former British colonies, or the indigenous peoples’ lands occupied by Euro-Americans.  The League of Nations, of which the Covenant was signed and entered into force in 1920, and the modern-day version United Nations, organized in 1945, would not recognize the unique rights of indigenous peoples across the globe until 2007, when the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was agreed to by the UN General Assembly.  Even then, the declaration is not legally-binding, and only provides guidelines or a framework for nation-states to “begin on the right foot” recognizing indigenous peoples’ relations within fluid laws and policies.  I say “fluid,” because the aim of many indigenous peoples – around the globe, not just in Alaska, not just in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and many countries elsewhere – is to further improve upon the accommodation of indigenous peoples within Western legal regimes.  In this modern day and age, should the Marshall Trilogy really be the pillar of US federal Indian law?  Should Native Americans across the US really allow themselves to continue to be characterized by racial and discriminatory stereotypes, like savages, hunter-gatherers, and plain uncivilized?

Simultaneously, the bilateral Treaty of Cession of 1867 between the US and the Russian Crown made a distinction between “civilized” and “uncivilized” Alaska Natives.  According to ourselves, as Alaska Natives, we were never less than civilized.  The Treaty of Cession also included brief mention of “creoles,” as a social and cultural class.  In the fall of 2006 I attended a doctoral dissertation lecture in anthropology by a young Russian lady from St. Petersburg, and her work only included those of “full-blooded” Russians in what is sometimes labelled Russian America.  After she gave her practiced lecture, I raised my hand and asked about Russian creoles or mix-bloods.  She commented it was an interesting question, and replied “I haven’t considered that.”  How can one spend an academic career examining Russian America history and not consider the implications of blood, social, and cultural creoles?  My paternal ancestral line descends from such a lineage.  I had never met nor heard of the young lady prior to her lecture, but how could I not be personally offended by the occlusion of Alaska Natives from such an in-depth, broad historical academic treatment of government and Russian America Company records?  I am still to this day nine years later incredulous and dumbfounded.

All of my grandparents, whom none were non-Native, were born before 1936, the year the Indian Reorganization Act was implemented in Alaska, creating “tribal governments” which the federal government would recognize and treat with on a government-to-government basis.  I imagine all of my grandparents were enrolled into one tribal government or another, even though they all moved from seasonal camp to seasonal camp and did not stay in one place for long.  I also imagine Bureau of Indian Affairs “Indian agents” also pushed on their parents, whom six out of eight were Koyukon Athabascan, to apply for Indian allotments from the 1898 congressional Dawes Act, where individual Native Americans could apply for and receive up to 140 acres of land within their home regions.  From these applications, my four grandparents inherited acreage and so too my parents.  I believe my father inherited a parceled allotment in Galena, and my mother her own parceled allotment in Tanana.  In 2008 I went to Tanana for the first time in twelve years since my grandmother Maudrey’s memorial potlatch in 1996.  I walked around and reminisced and visited with family friends whom were long lost to me, but they knew who I was and never left Tanana for a single day as far as they were concerned.  One of the elders reminded me to look into allotments my grandmother’s family had held and inherited over the years.  Apparently the deeds to several parcels were not accounted for, down the Yukon River from town, as she explained to me.  My cousin and I went for a boat ride down that way to take a look around for animals and stopped at grandma’s old camp to check it out.  Maybe that is where parcels are held in name, I’m not really sure.  I haven’t had the time, nor the expertise, to look into the record, but I imagine from time to time, when I get inheritance papers and identity verification and other such records on my desk, as is temporally required for all of us humans, I will have to look into the record and work with many others to set it straight.  It would only serve our ascendants right.

Next comes the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, which dates to my parents’ generation.  In 1971 only my grandmothers survived with their children.  My two younger brothers and I grew up with twenty-one aunts and uncles and countless first cousins.  I have decided I am nothing without my first cousins in the same town, Juneau, where I currently reside.  I tell people, besides law or graduate school, this is the first and only time I will ever live away from my first cousins.  I have decided we are that important to each other, in so many respects, for identity and support as all-too-brief examples.  Rewinding to ANCSA, my grandmothers and my parents and their siblings, in addition to tribal enrollment – my father in Louden Tribal Council and and mother in Tanana Tribal Council, all enrolled into Doyon, Inc, the regional corporation for Interior Athabascan peoples.  My dad and his siblings were enrolled into Gana-A ‘Yoo, Ltd, the village corporation for Galena, and my mother and her siblings enrolled into Tozitna, Ltd, the village corporation for Tanana.  Concurrently, my mother’s maternal uncle Morris Thompson was the Commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C.  Governor of Alaska and soon-after Department of Interior Secretary Wally Hickel and US Senator Ted Stevens at the time had a hand in appointing him to the national position of working with federally recognized tribal governments.  BIA was the federal agency that organized and footed the bill for public hearings on ANCSA and community referenda held across the State of Alaska and even in some Northwest states like Washington, Oregon, and California for Alaska Natives living out of state.  “Uncle Big” would then go on to lead Doyon, Ltd and sit in various statewide leadership positions like the University of Alaska Board of Regents.  I remember him well from my childhood, and would very much appreciate the benefit of his views and insights to this day on state and Native politics, as do many others around the state I’m sure.  I do not hear the label “tribal shareholders” very often, but it does ring a bell: it denotes the dual-recognition Alaska Natives receive from the federal and state governments, and also a sense of unity between ANCSA corporations and tribal governments, which in reality is not always the case.  Either way, many Alaska Natives are both tribal members and ANCSA corporation shareholders, and we all have the right to vote in either forms of elected leadership of our peoples.

Continuing on to my personal experiences and engagement in federal Indian laws and policies, I have worked for Doyon Drilling, Inc, a subsidiary of Doyon, Ltd, and also for the Tanana Chiefs Conference wildland firefighting crew.  Because I am a shareholder of Doyon, I receive a preference for hire in business enterprise like Doyon Drilling, Inc.  The Tanana Tribal Council is a consortia member of the Tanana Chiefs Conference, and since I am an enrolled member of the Tanana Tribal Council, I receive a “Native preference” for hire under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975, where tribal members are preferential ahead of non-Natives for hire in tribal governments and federal government agencies like BIA.  Uncle Big coordinated efforts on behalf of tribal governments around the country during the Congressional push for the ISDEAA, when he was BIA Commissioner.  I have worked for many other businesses around the state, and with many good people Native and non-Native, but the qualities of working for and with my fellow Native peoples is invaluable.  How easy it would have been for me as an impressionable young-twenty-something kid in the City and Municipality of Anchorage to make it in the non-Native world, not at all cognizant of “Native pride” or a sense of family history going back further – millennia – than “Western expansion.”  It sounds beyond cheesy, but if the preferential-hire programs did not exist, I would not be where I am today in my career, and prideful as I am of my family history.  At 21 years old going to work for Doyon Drilling put me next to people who have known my family for generations, and I now know and enjoy friendship with many of those people, even though I had grown up in Anchorage.  My first fire season in 2010 I was a member of an all Native squad of five members.  I never enjoyed working 16 hour days for two weeks straight than that experience with those four guys from a different region than I.  I can go to their villages at any given time and their friends and family would treat me as one of their own.

Recently, I was employed by a village corporation to process share transfers from the deceased to their named or by probate inheritors of stock. In the last decade the board of the village corporation decided on transferring whole shares to inheritors, to keep shares from becoming highly fractionated. Some shareholders hold stock up to three decimals, or essentially irrational amounts of shares, not to be equally divided until the shares return to the corporation itself. I was able to tabulate which classes of shares belonged to different age groups, and the board appreciated the work. We’re hoping the board can draft up new policies like creating a new class of shares for the “afterborns,” or descendants of original shareholders born after December 18th, 1971. Even with new enrollment of afterborns, much like fractionated Indian allotments from the 1898 Dawes Act, ANCSA shares are due to become just as complicated as the generations of shareholders age and new enrollees come into the fold. What is especially difficult is for an aged shareholder naming inheritors of their ANCSA stock, where some descendants might be favored and others left out. These are paradoxes concerning individual property vs. collective property.

This is how deep and important and vital Native identities are.  I carry around with me at all times my tribal enrollment card.  Because of the ID card, I can freely use Southeast Alaska Region Health Consortium healthcare services, an Indian Health Service “638” Self-Determination compacting and contracting consortia of Southeast Alaska tribes.  Despite all of this success, what is still at stake – and this is in closing – is subsistence.  ANCSA “extinguished” the exclusive subsistence, hunting and gathering rights of Alaska Natives.  It is our way of life, is in no way an understatement.  Federal lands, fish, and game management agencies recognize rural residency for subsistence harvesting, unless exclusive rights are explicit like the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Alaska Native rights to hunt seals and waterfowl.  State lands, fish, and game management, however, recognize no exclusive Alaska Native right to hunt and gather.  Some say state agency managers even work to stall and obstruct federal agency management of subsistence harvesting by Alaska Natives.  When Alaska Natives participate in state agency decision-making fora, we are forced to explain our subsistence practices to sport and commercial fisherman, who often view these practices as “poor,” or “wanting.”  Our way of life has never been poor or wanting, nor do we wish to take animals simply for sport.  The best intersection is commercial fishing between Native and non-Native.  The State of Alaska has one of the longest coast-lines in the world, and all of the regions practice commercial fishing in one form or another.  Even so, local fisherman need protections like the state “limited entry” program, where locals receive and enjoy exclusive commercial fishing rights to a region, and the federal Community Development Quota program, much like the state’s limited entry, but for three miles offshore and beyond to 225 miles in the US Exclusive Economic Zone.  The State of Alaska Board of Game, which manages big game hunting like moose, in the past three decades only allowed for exclusive Alaska Native subsistence harvesting for memorial potlatches in the Interior.  The State of Alaska Board of Fish only has one designated “subsistence” expert seat out of seven total.  The same interests carry their weight in the Federal Subsistence Board to integrate as much as possible state management laws and policies for federal lands like National Parks and Wildlife Refuges around the state.  The political, social, and cultural voices and participation of Alaska Natives have almost been reduced to nothing in the modern lands, fish, and wildlife management in the State of Alaska.  I think about this, a lot, just about on a daily basis.  I can go before the boards and state similarities between the US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia for subsistence harvesting, but I would only be patted on the head and be sent on my way.  There has to be a core, fundamental shift in how these boards operate and accommodate Alaska Native subsistence harvesting practices.  Maybe, just maybe, the unreachable ideological heights of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples can find some form of applicability in the State of Alaska when it comes to Alaska Native subsistence practices.  The guidelines have to come from somewhere.

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HB 216 Alaska State House Democrat Minority Party Press Release

http://www.akdemocrats.org/

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 21, 2014

 

Legislature Makes Alaska Native Languages Official State Languages

 

JUNEAU – Just after 3:00 a.m. this morning, the Alaska Legislature approved legislation (HB 216) making each of the Native languages in Alaska an official language of the state. The Alaska Senate voted 18-2 to approve the measure today in front of dozens of supporters. A spontaneous grassroots sit-in involving well over 100 people started at noon in the Capitol and lasted until 3 a.m. The measure has had tremendous public support throughout the process, including rare applause from supporters in both the Senate and House galleries and impromptu celebrations in the Capitol hallways as the bill moved through the committee process.

 

“In this late hour, on the night of Easter, we are excited to bear witness to the Alaska Senate passing this history-making bill to officially recognize our Alaska Native languages in the state they were birthed in,” said Elizabeth Medicine Crow, CEO of First Alaskans Institute.

 

“Today, we recognize Alaska Native languages as Alaska’s languages,” said Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins. “This is not my bill or any other legislator’s bill. This belongs to the Alaskans in the Capitol and across the state who gave their Easter Sunday to see HB 216 passed into law. This bill belongs to the people.”

 

“Through this long day, we stood in unity for our dearly departed, our grandchildren that are to come, our elders who give us strength, and one another,” said Lance Twitchell, a Native language professor at the University of Alaska Southeast. “We stood for our languages and equality, and at long last we succeeded.”

 

The bipartisan legislation is prime sponsored by Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D-Sitka), Representative Charisse Millett (R-Anchorage), Representative Benjamin Nageak (D-Barrow), Representative Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham), and Representative Bob Herron (D-Bethel), and has 18 other cosponsors in the House.

 

“The passage of HB216 by Alaska’s Legislature is a timely victory for language preservation in our state—nineteen of our twenty Alaska Native languages have been identified as critically endangered of becoming extinct in our state, and the remaining one is listed as endangered.  It is critical that all Alaskans take proactive measures now to strengthen our indigenous languages. Through well-planned and implemented programs, we can reverse this declining trend together,” said Annette Evans Smith, President and CEO of the Alaska Native Heritage Center and chair of the Alaska Native Languages Preservation and Advisory Committee.

 

In current state law, English is Alaska’s only official language. This bill expands the list to include Iñupiaq, Siberian Yupik, Central Alaskan Yup’ik, Alutiiq, Unangax̂, Dena’ina, Deg Xinag, Holikachuk, Koyukon, Upper Kuskokwim, Gwich’in, Tanana, Upper Tanana, Tanacross, Hän, Ahtna, Eyak, Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian. Passage of the bill will not require public signs and documents to be printed in multiple languages, and it will create no additional costs to the state.

 

“Native culture enriches the lives of Alaskans in so many ways,” said Millett. “Naming Alaska’s twenty indigenous languages as official languages of the state of Alaska demonstrates our respect and admiration for their past, current, and future contributions to our state.”

 

“This legislation will highlight the importance of revitalizing the rich cultural legacy inherent in Alaska Native languages,” said Edgmon, chair of the Bush Caucus. “We recently celebrated our 50th year of statehood. In another 50 years I would like to see the many languages of our first Alaskans playing a vibrant role in the lives of people all over the state.”

 

“This vote recognizes the past, encourages the present, and secures the future of our earliest Alaska languages, said Herron.

 

“Uum alerquutem ikayurciqaakut tamanritlerkaaun yugtun qaneryararput [This law will help our future through the preservation of our languages], said Alaska Federation of Natives Co-Chair Ana Hoffman, first in Central Yup’ik.

 

“We are thrilled that this bill passed. Alaska Native languages are cornerstones of our cultures, and this bill recognizes their importance. Many thanks to the legislators who voted for this recognition, and also to the educators and culture bearers who championed the legislation,” said Julie Kitka, president of the Alaska Federation of Natives.

“We applaud Rep. Kreiss-Tomkins and the State Legislature in acting to reverse historical assimilation policies that have sought to suppress Native languages.  The legislation is further significant in that it is a clear statement of the state’s recognition of cultural and linguistic diversity that represent one of our state’s greatest resources and is a major boost to ongoing language revitalization efforts,” said Rosita Kaaháni Worl Ph.D., president of the Sealaska Heritage Institute.

“I want to thank Representative Kreiss-Tomkins for starting the process of the passage of this bill. We, the co-sponsors, feel this bill will be a positive and long overdue formal legislative recognition of all the Native languages still spoken in this great state of ours and the people who still speak their own language,” said Nageak.

 

“Aarigaa, uvluluataq uvlupak. Una Pitquraq aquqtugumaaqtaqput piqpagnaqtuq Alaskam Inuqqaanginnun. Iluqaisa ataullugit Inuqqaangisa Alaskam uqausingat  atugaisuli. Uvagut Atanauruagut Alaskam Govamangata tavra taamna pitquraq inilakkipput. [Very good, this is a good day. This bill we are considering is highly regarded to the First People of Alaska. All of the languages of the First People of Alaska used in our long history are still in use today.  We want to preserve that.  We in the House of Representatives will collaboratively pass this bill.], said Nageak, first in Inupiaq, of which he is a fluent speaker.

 

“It’s a great day for Alaska when our legislature makes this gesture of respect and appreciation for Alaska’s Native people and their languages, which are in need of our encouragement and support, since numbers of speakers are on the decline,” said Lawrence D. Kaplan, director, Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. “Our Native languages originated in Alaska and developed here along with the cultures that they represent.  These languages are truly, uniquely Alaskan, and we at the Alaska Native Language Center are happy to hear that they have been honored in this way.  It’s another first for Alaska, since with the exception of Hawaii, no state has seen fit to recognize their indigenous languages in this way.  A big vote of thanks goes to our legislature that gave up Easter Sunday to serve our state.”

 

The bill now goes to the governor for his signature.

 

 

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HB 216: Official Languages of the State Has Passed Into Alaska State Law April 21st 2014

Every Alaska Native language will now be recognized as official languages of the State of Alaska in addition to English.  The lone precedent is Hawai’i, which recognizes Hawai’ian as official in addition to English via constitutional convention in 1987.  Many, many people worked very hard to get this bill through the 28th Alaska State Legislature, which will adjourn today or very early tomorrow morning.

Hezoonh.  It is good.

http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20140421/passionate-believers-native-heritage-prod-legislators-recognize-languages

http://www.ktoo.org/2014/04/21/alaska-native-languages-bill-passes-15-hour-sit/

http://www.adn.com/2014/04/20/3434157/natives-protest-lack-of-movement.html?sp=/99/100/&ihp=1

http://www.newsminer.com/news/politics/legislature-passes-bill-honoring-alaska-native-languages/article_e2823124-c95f-11e3-aa4e-001a4bcf6878.html

http://juneauempire.com/local/2014-04-21/waiting-it-out#.U1Vdkl4hGIY

 

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Alaska and Public Law 280 and its Upcoming 60th Anniversary

Background Report on Public Law 280 – Prepared at the request of Henry M. Jackson, Chairman, Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs United States Senate.  U.S. Government Printing Office Washington: March 18, 1975.

MEMORANDUM OF THE CHAIRMAN

To: Members of the Senate committee on Interior and Insular Affairs:

“During the 1950’s the national Indian policy sought to end or ‘terminate’ the Federal responsibility for, and special relationship with, Indian tribes.  The ultimate effect of this policy on Indian tribes would mean that all statutes pertaining to Indians would no longer be applicable; that the Federal programs and services provided to Indians solely on the basis of their status as Indians would cease; and that Federal protection would no longer be provided for Indian lands and other natural resources.

“It was during this era that Public Law 280 was adopted by the 83rd Congress and signed into law by President Eisenhower on August 15, 1953.  The express purpose of this public law was to grant broad discretionary authority to the States to assume civil and criminal jurisdiction over Indian reservations within their borders.  Prior to passage of Public Law 280, State jurisdiction over Indian reservations was prescribed by specific statutes approved by Congress or judicially recognized because of their involvement of non-Indians.  And jurisdiction over civil and criminal matters between Indians on their reservations was vested in either tribal governments or the Federal Government.

“The Public Law 280 legislation was approved by Congress in the face of strenuous Indian opposition and denied consent of the Indian tribes affected by the Act.  In its final form the statute gave five States civil and criminal jurisdiction over all but three tribes within those States, and gave the United States authority to grant similar jurisdiction to all other States.

“The Indian community viewed the passage of Public Law 280 as an added dimension to the dreaded termination policy.  Since the inception of its passage the statute has been criticized and opposed by tribal leaders throughout the Nation.  The Indians allege that the Act is deficient in that it failed to fund the States who assumed jurisdiction and as a result vacuums of law enforcement protection have occurred in certain Indian reservations and communities.  They contend further that the Act has resulted in complex jurisdictional problems for Federal, State and tribal governments.

“With this background the Committee requested the American Law Division of the Library of Congress to prepare a report on Public Law 280.  The Committee envisioned that the report would serve as an educational and informational document for the Indian community, Members of Congress and other interested individuals and organizations.  The Committee wishes to commend Mr. David M. Ackerman, legislative attorney, American Law Division, for his thorough legal research and preparation of the background paper.

“This report merits the study by all interested parties in this complex issue.  I am hopeful that it will stimulate fresh thinking and new approaches to the resolution of the many problems imposed on the Indian community, the States, and the Federal Government, by Public Law 280.

Henry M. Jackson, Chairman.”

“I have…signed it because its basic purpose represents still another step in granting complete political equality to all Indians in our Nation.

My objection to the bill arises because of the inclusion in it of sections 6 and 7.  These sections permit other States to impose on Indian tribes within their borders, the criminal and civil jurisdiction of the State, removing the Indians from Federal jurisdiction, and , in some instances, effective self-government.  The failure to include in these provisions a requirement of full consultation in order to ascertain the wishes and desires of the Indians and of final Federal approval, was unfortunate.  I recommend, therefore, that at the earliest possible time in the next session of the Congress, the act be amended to require such consultation with the tribes prior to the enactment of legislation subjecting them to State jurisdiction, as well as approval by the Federal Government before such legislation becomes effective.”

– President Dwight Eisenhower on signing Public Law 83-280 into law on August 18, 1953.

Public Law 280 would not be amended with some of President Eisenhower’s recommendations until 1968.  The 1968 amendments provide for retrocession of Public Law 280, which the state of Washington has recently done, allowing for tribes to re-assume civil and criminal jurisdiction after over 50 years of Public Law 280.

Public Law 280 would be amended in 1958 to include the Territory of Alaska, one year before statehood.  In 1970 Public Law 280 would be amended returning criminal jurisdiction to the Metlakatla Indian community, the only Indian Country in Alaska.

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Alaska Redistricting Board Meeting – Anchorage LIO

One could easily figure the Alaska Redistricting Board waiting for the recent SCOTUS decision on the Voting Rights Act to continue deliberating over new legislative districts.  Several groups and interested parties attempted to coerce the Board to continue working after the Alaska Supreme Court decided the previous districts were unconstitutional: the Alaska State Constitution.  One can only imagine the scope of new effects of the recent SCOTUS Voting Rights Act decision on US Constitution law.

First note of partisan politics sees the chair of the Redistricting Board is also the chair of the Board of Fish, the Honorable Mr. John Torgerson, a former state judge.

10:07AM – Meeting called to order.

10:09AM – Mr. Michael White, attorney for the Board, states for the record Section 4 and Section 5 of VRA as ruled unconstitutional does have direct effect to the proceedings of the work of the Board.  The Board will work without consideration of Section 4 and 5 of VRA.

Dozens of proposals hang on the wall, and have been provided in smaller formats for the public.  Most proposals have Tanana, Alaska (the one place in the world I consider myself from) consolidated with the rest of the middle Yukon River villages, unlike the presently existing districts.  Ruby, Alaska and Tanana (adjacent to each other on the Yukon River) are the only two middle Yukon villages, primarily Koyukon Athabascan, set with the primarily Upper Kuskokwim Athabascan and Yup’ik Eskimo villages in Southwest Alaska.  Out of all the public gripes of the presently existing districts, I found this fact most upsetting.

10:30AM – Alaskans For Fair and Equitable Redistricting has finely parsed several different proposals.  Former Alaska Republican Party chair Mr. Randy Reudrich is serving as chair for AFFER and has testified to an impressive array of details for the AFFER Revised proposal.  Out of all the proposals hanging on the walls, AFFER probably has the most balanced proposals.  I’m guessing politics will significantly alter AFFER proposals if and when the Redistricting Board begins to adopt final proposals.

11:15AM – Calista Corporation, the regional corporation for the Yup’ik peoples in Southwest Alaska has proposed several maps.  Calista cites using ANCSA boundaries for considering their proposals.  Further analyzing the placement of the Koyukon Athabascan people and middle Yukon villages, the population of these villages are comparatively sparse, and keep being split up between one district and the next proposal to proposal.  They are either paired with Upper Kuskokwim Athabascan, Bering Straights, Northwest Arctic, and North Slope Arctic.  In some cases, three of these historic ethnic groups out of the four are set into one district.  Calista has cited difficulty in sorting this dilemma out.

1:00PM – The room has nearly cleared out now that the meeting has switched over to public testimony, mostly via teleconference.

There is a lot of experience that has gone into the many different proposals, with some participation spanning decades.  Many regions and sub-regions fight to have their constituents generally together, while leaving the rest of the state to work itself out.  It is a complicated process, with an almost unlimited amount of criteria that could add together making a legislative district.  The Board has a standard set of criteria giving definition to the process, with many disparate parties suggesting non-standard criteria as basis for proposals.  From what I hear, it seems there is plenty of awareness and participation from the Alaska Native peoples from all regions around the state.  The majority non-Native population of the state may force some aspects of the proposal that is in the end unfriendly to the Alaska Native vote, but the Alaska Native peoples understand the implications of the recent SCOTUS Voting Rights Act decision and will more than likely have the voice of the Alaska Native voice heard leading up to and during the final decision making process of the redistricting work.

Signing off 1:18PM.

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On the Separation of IRA Tribal Government and Alaska Native Corporation

Title 43 United States Code, Section 1626(a) Continuing availability of otherwise available governmental programs

The payments and grants authorized under this chapter constitute compensation for the extinguishment of claims to the land, and shall not be deemed to substitute for any governmental programs otherwise available to the Native people of Alaska as citizens of the United States and the State of Alaska.

Title 43 United States Code, Section 1626(d) Federal Indian programs

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, Alaska Natives shall remain eligible for all Federal Indian programs on the same basis as other Native Americans.

Commentary:

Notice the absence of any explicit term referring to IRA tribal government in Alaska, or any term referring to the sovereignty of IRA tribal governments in Alaska (section a only refers to Alaska Natives as citizens of Alaska or the U.S.).  The broad language perhaps allows for the non-profit arms of the corporations to contract and compact with the federal agencies under the guise of IRA tribal governments.  The non-profit arms of the corporations have since been expedited into “tribal consortiums”.  The legal definition of tribal consortium follows below:

Title 25 United States Code, Section 458aaa (5) Inter-tribal consortium

The term “inter-tribal consortium” means a coalition of two or more separate Indian tribes that join together for the purpose of participating in self-governance, including tribal organizations.

The confusion becomes worse since several non-profit tribal consortiums participate fully in the Alaska Federation of Natives, the organization made of and concerning mainly the Alaska Native Corporations.

It is difficult to firmly delineate IRA tribal governments and Alaska Native Corporations, especially considering tribal consortiums serving as non-profit human services organizations began pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, which gave birth to Alaska Native Corporations.  Does this focus onto ANCSA by way of legal language take away human capital from IRA tribal governments in Alaska?

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“Can International Law Support Changes to Federal Indian Law?” 1PM-530PM 19 April 2013

1:03PM: Professor S. James Anaya, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is introduced by Bob Clinton, professor of law, Indian Legal Program Sandra Day O’Connor at ASU.

1:08PM: Professor Anaya speaks to the conference as Keynote.

“There are several [U.S. domestic] doctrinal devices that limit implementation from the courts.”

Concepts within UNDRIP are derived and supported by domestic obligations, e.g. self-determination, consultation, etc.

“[UNDRIP] can be seen to constitute customary international law.”

“I think we need to take that as a given and move forward…I think that question has already been settled.”

1:28PM:  “How can the declaration be implemented?  How can the declaration, abstract concepts, be implemented in reality?”

Visited 13 countries in role as UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the U.S.  Cites U.S. report as given to the UN Human Rights Council in the fall of 2012.

“Perhaps the [domestic] political will isn’t there, but it can be.”

1:41PM:  “I met with 12-15 executives of federal agencies [during U.S. mission], and I was surprised about the level of ignorance of the declaration.”

“There needs to be an executive campaign for recognition of the declaration…and to raise awareness.”

1:44PM:  Only Senator Inouye was present during Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing on UNDRIP in summer 2012.  “I think there needs to be another hearing, where congressmen are confronted with problems of the declaration.”

“I think Congress needs to pass a resolution…to cement the declaration as a centerpiece in its future deliberations.”

1:48PM:  Speaking of the federal Judiciary.

“The courts should now discard such colonial era doctrines, and adopt the human rights doctrines which the United States has now adopted…it should now look to international law for the implementation of the declaration.”

“It is high time to bring the law in line with contemporary human rights law.”

1:51PM: The state governors as well as the legislators take stock of the declaration.

The indigenous peoples themselves must take responsibility to educate and to utilize the rights enjoyed.

“I encourage everyone in the room to be optimists.”

1:52PM: Questions posed from audience.

1:59PM: “Can the declaration be used by the traditional leadership to be used to protect themselves from the current tribal government?” – Wide laughter from the audience.

2:01PM: Off the sound-system question, stopping Professor Anaya away from the mic, from the Hopi poet Simon J. Ortiz, concerning the sale of sacred Hopi items in France.

The Special Rapporteur can only monitor issues, and cannot attempt to influence domestic legal instruments and functions.

The Special Rapporteur can receive petitions, which be can used to monitor domestic situations.

2:05PM: Another off the sound-system question, petitioning the Special Rapporteur to address a Native American freedom of religion issue.

2:08PM: New panel moderated by Mr. G. William Rice, joined by Leonard Gorman, Chief J. Wilton Littlechild, Philip S. Deloria, and Rebecca Tsosie.

2:12PM: Leonard Gorman speaks to the conference.

Consulted with the Department of Agriculture on the subject of sacred places or sacred sites to the Navajo Nation, to be managed differently from other public lands, over the span of several years.

Petitioned the State of Arizona over redistricting issues and the federal Voting Rights Act, and how international laws and norms can assist the Navajo Nation.

Working with the Department of State, Department of Justice on an MOU for implementation of UNDRIP within the Navajo Nation.

2:28PM: Chief J. Wilton Littlechild of the Canadian Ermineskin Cree Nation speaks to the conference.  Chief Littlechild served in the Canadian Parliament previously.

Summarized several instances where UNDRIP has been implemented domestically in Canada.

Brought forth to the conference: House of Commons of Canada 2012 Bill Proposal C-469 – “An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

2:40PM:  “Treaty rights are human rights.”

2:50PM: Philip S. Deloria speaks to the conference.

“Begging the question.”  Indigenous peoples very much beg the question of the truth of Federal Indian law.

Many concepts making up the declaration are not uniform concepts.

3:01PM: “International law and domestic implementation is not a guarantee.  We have to be careful.”

3:05PM: A lot of humor, lifting the serious atmosphere.

3:10PM: Legally defending human rights cannot be abused if we are to advance UNDRIP.

3:14PM:  Rebecca Tsosie speaks to the conference.

3:23PM: “The U.S. Constitution does not include the human rights we are talking about today,” – based on research of racial discrimination in the past during the formation of the U.S.

3:30PM: Present wave of colonization: “Colonization of Consciousness – issues of identity, self-determination, autonomy, spiritual rights – things that barely anyone can understand.”

3:51PM: After a 20 minute break, Professor Tsosie moderates a panel including Dion Killsback, Senior Counselor to Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs and Norther Cheyenne of Montana, Professor Robert Miller, and Professor G. William Rice, and Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee.

3:56PM: Dion Killsback speaks to the conference.

“As the only ‘Fed’ in the room, my remarks reflect the views of the Department of Interior.” – Wide laughter from the audience.

Summarizes specific instances of favorable developments in Indian Country handled in part or in whole by Interior.

4:15PM: MOUs are centerpieces for administrating laws, policies, and regulations on a government-to-government relationship with tribal governments.

4:17PM: Professor Robert Miller, of the Lewis & Clark Law School, speaks to the conference.

Analyzes the consent and consultation principles of UNDRIP.  Historically consent used in treaty and statutory language.  Consultation utilized during self-determination era.

4:20PM: “Tribes have very few substantive rights when it comes to consultations.”

“There is a higher responsibility when it comes to consultation with tribal governments, with a fiduciary responsibility.”

4:31PM: “35 different [federal] agencies have gotten serious about consultation.”

Senior agency officials should be negotiating directly with tribes during consultations.

4:37PM: “Article 19 the primary reason the four countries voted no.” – Free, Prior, and Informed Consent principle.

4:39PM: Professor Bill Rice speaks to the conference.

4:43PM: The most important participants of implementing UNDRIP are the tribal governments and peoples themselves.  The federal government is going to listen to tribal governments and peoples when it does come to implementation.

“If we don’t understand the UNDRIP, if we don’t make the UNDRIP a priority and a way of life and a way of doing things, if we don’t take measures to implement UNDRIP, it won’t ever be implemented.”

4:51PM: “It’s time for another comprehensive review of Federal Indian law.”

4:56PM: Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee speaks to the conference, from a perspective as a member of a non-recognized Indian tribe in Louisiana.

UNDRIP provides opportunities for non-recognized tribal groups to petition governing entities for recognition.

5:06PM: An interesting situation with the BP Oil Spill: Since Professor Ferguson-Bohnee’s tribe is not a recognized tribe, the federal agencies involved with administrating the clean-up and reparations has eventually left out her tribe in the process.  They are however continuing to petition the governing entities to continue involvement after initially consulting with the non-recognized tribe.

5:12PM: Professor Tsosie invites questions from the audience.

Question about a Pueblo suit against the US for Mr. Killsback.

Question from Alan Parker addressed to Mr. Killsback about a statement from Jodi Gillette, Special Assistant to the President on Native American Affairs, that the President would attend a future World Council on Indigenous Peoples gathering.

Follow-up question about the Self-Determination principle of UNDRIP, and the U.S. Self-Determination Act Public Law 93-638.

Question to Professor Ferguson-Bohnee about descendants who have parents as members of federally recognized tribes, but who are not officially registered on membership rolls.  [This is very common in Alaska, with confusion between tribal governments and Alaska Native Corporations].

Professor Wiessner from this morning further addressed the question of descendants who are not registered on membership rolls.

5:29PM: Professor Bill Rice will close out the conference with an impromptu round of last thoughts from panel participants.

5:32PM: The last thoughts are chaotic and are generally not-followable!  I am signing out.

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