Legislators Pre-file Bi-partisan Bill to Make Alaska Native Languages Official State Languages

 By Mark Gnadt | House Democratic Caucus 01/10/2014

Alaska Native News

On Thursday, Representative Charisse Millett (R-Anchorage), Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D-Sitka), Representative Benjamin Nageak (D-Barrow), and Representative Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham) announced they are pre-filing the Alaska Native Language Bill to make each of the Native languages in Alaska an official language of the state.

jan2014-screenshot.10_01_2014_07.32.35_589132879In current state law, English is Alaska’s only official language. This bill would expand 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.

“Losing a language is losing a way of understanding the world,” said Kreiss-Tomkins. “We hope this legislation will add even more momentum to the revitalization of Alaska Native languages.”

“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 preserving and revitalizing the rich and diverse cultural legacy inherent in Alaska Native languages,” said Edgmon, chairman of the House 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.”

“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.

Nageak continued, “Those of us who still speak and write our language want to make sure that all Native languages in the state of Alaska do not die off and want them passed on to the younger generation and the generations that will come in the near and distant future. The first words I ever spoke in my life were Iñupiaq words. My generation spoke only Iñupiaq when we were growing up and did not learn to speak English until the age of 6 years old when we started school as kindergartners. Our generation has struggled with and has been somewhat complicit in not speaking our languages when we became parents, therefore the majority of the generation we parented does not speak or write the different Native languages that were spoken entirely by Native people from generations past. We, as prime co-sponsors, feel that this bill is a start in making sure that future generations of Native speakers multiply until someday all of our Native people will once again be totally fluent in their own Native tongue with the added capability of speaking the English language.”

Making these languages official languages of the state of Alaska is a symbolic gesture to acknowledge their importance to Alaskans and the state’s heritage. 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.

The bill will be assigned a bill number and released on Friday, January 10. It will be read into the official record and assigned committees of referral on the first day of the upcoming legislative session, January 21, 2014.

Panel blasts ‘colonial model’ of justice in rural Alaska, backs Indian Country model

 A boy rides a four-wheeler through the rural Alaska community of Savoonga on Saint Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea. Loren Holmes photo
A boy rides a four-wheeler through the rural Alaska community of Savoonga on Saint Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea. Loren Holmes photo

By Alex DeMarban

Alaska Dispatch December 4, 2013

Members of a Congressionally-created panel that blasted the state’s justice system for Alaska Native villages arrived in Anchorage on Wednesday, where they took on a top state official and publicly pushed for reform to give Alaska tribes more local authority over criminal matters.

“It’s clear to us Alaska remains on the wrong track,” said Troy Eid, chairman of the Indian Law and Order Commission (ILOC), which issued its scathing report last month. “The problems tribes face in the Lower 48 are magnified in Alaska, which still relies on a colonial model (of justice) that results in more violent crime.”

The report, “A Roadmap for Making Native America Safer,” called for expanded tribal authority to address violence and crime in Indian Country and Alaska Native villages.

Recommending Indian Country in Alaska

Alaska Attorney General Michael Geraghty on Tuesday fired off a letter to Eid, taking issue with aspects of the report and acknowledging some of the problems in the state’s justice system. He said Alaska must work with tribes to improve public safety, and highlighted steps taken under Gov. Sean Parnell to make villages safer.

Ultimately, Geraghty opposed the report’s recommendation that Indian Country be created in Alaska as it is in the Lower 48, where tribes own land. That status means Lower 48 tribes enjoy rights not afforded Alaska Native tribes.

” … The state believes the commission was wide of the mark in recommending a return to Indian country as a means for solving the admittedly serious public safety issues facing our Native peoples,” reads the letter.

More than 200 Alaska Native villages suffer some of the nation’s highest rates of domestic violence, sexual assault, suicide and other problems.

Meanwhile, scores of villages lack police and quick access to courts and other basic services. Often, victims must wait for Alaska State Troopers based in other communities to fly in before crimes can be investigated, a process that can take days in stormy weather.

“We are fighting for our lives here. We have the highest rates of almost all deplorable conditions known to mankind,” said Mary Ann Mills, tribal council chairperson for the Kenaitze Indian Tribe, in a question-and-answer session following presentations by Eid and the other ILOC commissioners at the Dena’ina Convention Center in Anchorage Wednesday morning. Mills was just one of several tribal representatives from around the state who came to listen to the commission’s findings, and who overwhelmingly expressed support for tribal sovereignty.

“The current system is broken,” said Eid. “You have 75 communities with no policing at all. And then you have 100 VPSOs (village public safety officers) who don’t carry firearms and can’t provide the full range of services that a state sworn officer can provide.”

The nine-person commission sunsets in January. Commissioners came to Alaska last year to conduct interviews for the report. Eid and two others returned this week to speak at the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ rural providers conference in Anchorage. Eid also planned to meet with Geraghty on Wednesday afternoon.

‘Not just an Alaska problem’

“This is not just an Alaska problem. But I know injustice when I see it,” Eid said at the conference.

“We’re not a bunch of radicals. We are not bomb throwers. We just think that self government should be the rule in Alaska,” he said, noting that he’s a lifelong Republican and was appointed by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. His point? The commissioners come from varied political backgrounds, yet they unanimously came to the same conclusion about the abysmal safety conditions in rural Alaska.

At the conference, commissioners and Alaskans renewed their calls for the creation of Indian Country in Alaska. The courts decided long ago that unlike the Lower 48, virtually no tribal lands existed in Alaska.

The distinction has limited the federal benefits that flow to Alaska tribes. A stark example of that disparity came earlier this year with the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act that granted new criminal jurisdiction to Lower 48 tribes, including the ability to issue civil protective orders to arrest and detain any person. Alaska tribes did not receive such powers.

On Tuesday, Geraghty had his letter delivered to Eid’s room at the Captain Cook Hotel, so Eid could understand the state’s views before the two met. Hotel staff placed the letter on Eid’s pillow for him to read when he arrived, “without the mint,” Eid joked.

Geraghty said the commission’s urgent challenge resonates with him. “The state of Alaska can, and should, be doing more to work collaboratively with local tribes to improve public safety,” he said.

He noted the Department of Law has drafted a plan that would allow tribes to address certain domestic violence, alcohol-related or misdemeanor offenses. The accused could choose civil remedies in tribal court instead of facing state criminal charges.

The state has also adopted a template memorandum of understanding for villages that have banned alcohol. A local council would issue “restorative justice remedies in lieu of citation for alcohol possession,” said Geraghty. He conceded that illegal possession “is an offense which is rarely prosecuted in small rural communities.”

Alaska’s rural police force doubled in size

Geraghty also noted that the state’s rural force of public safety officers has roughly doubled in recent years, to more than 100. Draft regulations to allow public safety officers to carry firearms is in a public-comment period. Arming officers was something another ILOC commissioner, Ted Quasala, said was as basic as it gets.

“There is no other law enforcement agency anywhere, outside of here, where you have unarmed officers who respond to very violent and volatile situations. There is no way you are going to send an unarmed officer to those situations alone, by themselves (in the rest of America),” said Quasala, who has law enforcement experience. He has previously worked as a tribal police chief and as director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Office of Law Enforcement Services.

In his letter, Geraghty also noted that Parnell has started annual marches to raise awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault in 160 communities.

“The fact is we will not solve this problem solely through arrest and prosecution — though that is obviously an important component. Instead we must also raise awareness and educate our kids,” the letter said.

But Geraghty’s letter also took issue with aspects of the report. The report had blasted the state’s support for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, despite the disparity it upheld for Alaska tribes. The report called the state’s support “unconscionable.”

Geraghty called that language “inappropriate. We have admittedly a long way to go to solve this problem but I think the commission does a disservice to the state when it paints with such a broad brush,” he said.

Eid said he was encouraged to see Geraghty express support for the report’s findings, but he added that establishing Indian Country in Alaska isn’t the only solution.

In fact, the report spells out numerous ways to improve rural justice, he said, including that the president, through executive order, allow the Bureau of Indian Affairs to provide funding for tribal police in Alaska, a benefit enjoyed by Lower 48 tribes, but not those in Alaska.

Tribes don’t actually have to own land to have more authority, Eid noted. One thing the state can do now is define boundaries where tribes can have increased criminal jurisdiction, even though they don’t own the land.

“We all agree the situation in Alaska is a problem, and that Alaska is out of step with the U.S.,” Eid said. “The way to address the problem is more local control and local decision making.”

Contact Alex DeMarban at alex(at)alaskadispatch.com. Reporter Jill Burke contributed to this story.

Chairman of law and order panel says Alaska should stop fighting tribal rights


Chair Troy Eid, right, addresses the audience as fellow commissioners Ted Quasula, left, and Carole Goldberg of the Indian Law and Order Commission review a section of their report at the 23rd Annual BIA Tribal Providers Conference on Wednesday, December 4, 2013, at the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center. ERIK HILL — Anchorage Daily New
Chair Troy Eid, right, addresses the audience as fellow commissioners Ted Quasula, left, and Carole Goldberg of the Indian Law and Order Commission review a section of their report at the 23rd Annual BIA Tribal Providers Conference on Wednesday, December 4, 2013, at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center. ERIK HILL — Anchorage Daily New

By RICHARD MAUER rmauer@adn.com

Anchorage Daily News December 4, 2013

In the three weeks since the U.S. Indian Law & Order Commission chastised Alaska for opposing Natives who want their own village cops and courts, chairman Troy Eid says he’s been called a radical and an outsider who shouldn’t be sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong.

Eid swept aside such criticism Wednesday when the commission officially presented its report in Anchorage. He declared that Alaska “was on the wrong track” and that public safety and security were so bad in rural Alaska, especially for women and children, that it had become a national disgrace.

“I don’t claim to be an Alaskan,” said Eid, the former U.S. Attorney for Colorado, “but I know injustice when I see it.”

Speaking to a crowded room of mainly Alaska tribal officials and Native rights advocates at the 23rd annual Bureau of Indian Affairs Tribal Providers Conference, Eid was interrupted by applause almost every time he called on the state to acknowledge sovereignty here.

“There ought to be a recognition of tribal sovereignty as THE force that will keep people safer — and why not?” Eid said. “It’s what we do everywhere else in the United States. We recognize local people should be able to govern themselves, make their own decisions, that they should not be fighting with their states.”

A life-long Republican, Eid said it wasn’t a matter of politics, though opponents of the report have tried to portray it that way. “I would hold my conservative credentials to (Attorney General Mike Geraghty’s) or the governor’s anytime,” he said.

The nine-member Indian Law & Order Commission was established by Congress in 2010 and directed to report back to Congress and the President on its findings after holding hearings and meetings around the country, including Alaska.

The report, released Nov. 12, was mainly about the successes and failures of reservation justice programs and recommendations on new policies and laws.

But the panel singled out Alaska in a special 30-page chapter. It accused the state of falling behind the rest of the country in providing a secure environment in Bush villages.

“What’s so shocking about Alaska is that you have the most rural state in the country and you have the most centralized law enforcement in terms of how the state provides — and fails to provide — services,” Eid said. “We cling to this model because we know it and because there’s a lot of perverse pleasure taken in controlling the lives of other people … The colonial model, which is alive and well in Alaska, does not work.”

Eid and panel members Carole Goldberg of the UCLA School of Law and Ted Quasula, a former BIA police officer from Arizona, said Alaska should recognize tribal authority, not fight it.

Tribal courts exist in Alaska, but they mainly handle adoption and other family matters. The state recognizes their jurisdiction over village members, but recently challenged a decision by the Minto tribal court that stripped a convicted wife beater of his parental rights, arguing that the court exceeded its authority because the man was enrolled in another village.

Eid and Goldberg had sharp criticism for the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, the law that paved the way for the trans-Alaska pipeline by settling Native land claims and establishing regional and village corporations in place of reservations. While supporters of the act, like the late Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, have described it as forward-looking legislation designed to integrate Alaska Natives into the dominant economy and culture, Goldberg said it was the “last gasp of termination policy” designed to separate Natives from their traditional lands.

Laws passed since then have recognized Native American tribal authority, though often, as in the Violence Against Women Act, Alaska was written out of the legislation, they said.

“Alaska has been left behind because of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act,” Goldberg said.

Eid said he has heard the law described in almost reverential terms, as if it had been “set in stone” and handed down like tablets.

In fact, he said, the law has been amended 35 times since passage, and it should be changed again to bring “Indian country” — and Native sovereignty — to the thousands of acres of land owned by Alaska Natives, villages and other Native entities.

“Attitudes change, people can change, people can learn,” he said.

Eid said that when he arrived at his room in the Hotel Captain Cook Tuesday night, there was a six-page letter in an envelope on his pillow. It wasn’t a love note, but a hand-delivered defense of Alaska’s position by Geraghty, the state Attorney General.

Eid noted that Geraghty acknowledged that public safety was deficient in Alaska’s villages, but opinions diverged after that. Geraghty said that increasing the power of tribal courts and police, using the reservation model, would subject non-Natives to a justice system they had no power to affect democratically.

“The report does not explain how non-Native residents in these communities will participate in … tribal self-governance given that they have no right to vote on tribal laws or participate in electing tribal leaders,” Geraghty wrote. Since ANCSA’s passage, he said, “Alaskans have been free to reside in any Alaska community and expect to be governed by a uniform system of criminal laws.”

But Eid said that was no more relevant than he, as a voting resident of Colorado, being subject to Alaska criminal law while visiting here. If he broke the law, he said, he would expect Alaska courts to be fair to him even though he can’t vote here, just as he would expect tribal courts to fair with non-Natives in their villages.

Geraghty also referenced the Parnell administration’s secret plan to bring a measure of self-determination to some villages. As outlined by Gov. Sean Parnell to the Alaska Federation of Natives convention in October, the proposal would allow tribal courts to hear misdemeanors as civil, not criminal cases, with culturally attuned punishment or rehabilitation — but only if the defendant agreed.

Geraghty said in an November interview that he couldn’t provide a copy of the proposal he had given the Tanana Chiefs Conference because it was subject to negotiations.

“Has anyone seen this thing?” Eid asked the room Wednesday. No one had. He and Goldberg said the negotiations were doomed if the state didn’t treat the Interior villages as sovereign governments.

Reach Richard Mauer at rmauer@adn.com or 257-4345.

Alaska’s heat wave breaking records, killing salmon

John Upton, Grist

Something smells fishy about a record-breaking heat wave in Alaska.

It might be the piles of dead salmon.

The Land of the Midnight Sun has been sweating, relatively speaking, through a hot and sun-soaked summer. From the AP:

Anchorage has set a record for the most consecutive days over 70 degrees during this unusually warm summer, while Fairbanks is closing in on its own seasonal heat record.

The National Weather Service said Alaska’s largest city topped out at 70 degrees at 4 p.m. Tuesday, making it the 14th straight day the thermometer read 70 or higher. That breaks a record of 13 straight days set in 2004.

In Fairbanks, temperatures Monday reached 80 or higher for the 29th day this summer.

While most of the world is getting warmer, the 49th state appeared recently to be getting colder – the temporary effect of a long-term oceanic weather pattern known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Now the unusually toasty summer is raising questions about whether climate change is heating up the state, though some are arguing the heat wave could just be an anomaly.

What isn’t being questioned is the link between the hot weather and a die-off of 1,100 king salmon. The fish were returning to a hatchery south of Petersburg to spawn when they succumbed to hot water and low oxygen levels, perhaps worsened by low tides. From a weekend report by the AP:

Alaska Department of Fish and Game sportfish biologist Doug Fleming said he found the dead fish July 18 after last week’s warm weather, when temperatures were in the 80s.

He began monitoring water levels earlier in the week when it appeared temperatures were reaching dangerous levels.

“And so, getting through till Wednesday which appeared to be the hottest day, then on Thursday I was conducting an aerial survey just to get a grip on how many fish may have been killed by the warm water, not expecting to see a large die-off but some, and I was shocked to see the numbers of fish that we lost,” he said.

Salmon Porn: Watch Mighty Fish Spawn on Live-Feed Underwater Camera

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

The U.S. Forest Service is providing a live view of sockeye salmon returning to spawn in Steep Creek, Juneau, Alaska. This live, underwater view is near the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska.

“Cutthroat trout and Dolly Varden (similar to Bull trout) are also in the creek. Dolly Varden consume any eggs that don’t make it into the redd,” the forest service says in the commentary. “You can also see Coho salmon fry from time to time.”

The fish cam is planted in about 18 inches of water by staff at Tongass National Forest.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/07/24/watch-secret-lives-salmon-unfold-alaska-underwater-camera-150554

Supreme Court won’t take up Alaskan tribe’s suit against Exxon Mobil

By Jeremy P. Jacobs, E&E, ClimateWire

The Supreme Court yesterday declined to review a large climate change lawsuit brought by a Native Alaskan village against major energy producers.

The Native Village of Kivalina had asked the justices to take up a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling last September that dismissed its lawsuit against Exxon Mobil Corp. and other producers.

Villagers had claimed that the companies’ operations were contributing to global warming, which in turn was eroding their land off the northwest coast of Alaska, about 70 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

Specifically, the villagers were seeking damages from the companies. The San Francisco-based 9th Circuit, however, ruled that the Clean Air Act and U.S. EPA regulations have jurisdiction over climate change issues.

The Village of Kivalina is a self-governing, federally recognized tribe of about 400 Inupiat Native Alaskans who live on a 6-mile barrier reef off the coast of Alaska.

In order to withstand winter storms and large waves, the village relies on sea ice that binds to its coastline. In recent years, villagers charged that the ice is forming later and melting sooner, leaving them exposed.

Further, the reef itself is eroding, and, in court documents, the village claimed its existence is deeply threatened.

The villagers attributed the change to global warming and pointed at greenhouse gases from energy production as the culprit. They sought damages under a common law nuisance claim.

Lower courts have ruled against the village on multiple occasions. A district court tossed out the case because the village couldn’t concretely detail how it had been harmed by the conduct of the companies.

Alaska fishermen flood Copper River for salmon season opener

The Copper River salmon season began at 7 a.m. Thursday, and gillnet fishermen will fish the Copper River Delta for 12 hours. The forecast initially called for gale-force winds, with gusts up to 45 mph by midday. But Mother Nature sided with the fishermen for the most part. Prince William Sound Marketing Assn.
The Copper River salmon season began at 7 a.m. Thursday, and gillnet fishermen will fish the Copper River Delta for 12 hours. The forecast initially called for gale-force winds, with gusts up to 45 mph by midday. But Mother Nature sided with the fishermen for the most part. Prince William Sound Marketing Assn.

By Jerzy Shedlock, Alaska Dispatch

The Copper River salmon season began early Thursday amid windy, dreary weather. But the gray skies didn’t stop Alaska’s commercial fishermen from crowding the waters to participate in one of the state’s most renown wild salmon runs, a highly prized stock of kings and reds famous in Alaska and the Lower 48.

Troll and drift gillnet fishing occurs earlier in May, generally in Southeast Alaska, but the Copper River represents the first big salmon run of the spring.

Restaurants race to be the first to get high-quality king and sockeye salmon to diners.

Gnarly weather subsides

The season began at 7 a.m. Thursday, and gillnet fishermen will fish the Copper River Delta for 12 hours. The forecast initially called for gale-force winds, with gusts up to 45 mph by midday. But Mother Nature sided with the fishermen for the most part. The National Weather Service is now predicting scattered rain and snow showers throughout the day, with winds possibly reaching about 30 mph.

Severe weather predictions didn’t prevent boat crews in Cordova from ramping up preparations Wednesday afternoon, with crews scrambling to set up their nets. They departed around 6 p.m., hoping to spend as little time as possible in the waters if the winds picked up, according to the Copper River Dock Talk blog, which is affiliated with the Copper River/Prince William Sound Marketing Association.

Marketing is essential to the fishery’s success, and help Copper River kings fetch a high price. The first salmon of the season may cost restaurants as much as $50 a pound, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Last year, the season began one day later, on May 17. And in 2012, the sockeye salmon harvested during the Copper River District gillnet fishery totaled 1.9 million fish, more than one-and-a-half times the previous 10-year average of 1.2 million sockeye salmon, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. While the red run boomed, the king return was awful. Just 12,000 of the big fish were harvested, not even half the 10-year average of 28,000.

During last year’s first two 12-hour openers, Copper River fishermen harvested 373,959 sockeye salmon and 3,339 kings, according to Fish and Game.

And this year, Fish and Game expects 1.8 million salmon to return to the Copper River.

The river’s salmon are harvested using gillnets, a common salmon-harvesting method in Alaska. Gillnetting involves laying a net of up to 1,800 feet in the water, creating a wall of sorts in front of the fish. Reds and kings are ensnared in the mesh, the size of which is regulated to reduce unintentional catches.

It’s grueling work, but seafood connoisseurs in Anchorage and the Lower 48 shell out big bucks for early-season Copper River salmon entrees, and seafood markets take advance orders from customers who want them at any price.

Simon and Seafort’s stocking up

Simon and Seafort’s Saloon & Grill in Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, will have the Copper River salmon entrees Friday morning. And once they’re in the door, the fish fly off the grills and onto patrons’ tables. The restaurant is purchasing 140 pounds of salmon, which will last the restaurant about three days. Between 40 pounds and 60 pounds of salmon sells each night, said sous chef David Taylor. That’s a lot of business, some 150 portions, he said.

The dishes including Copper River salmon weren’t decided as of Thursday afternoon, but the back-to-basics “simply grilled” dish will be available. The salmon is grilled in olive oil with kosher salt and pepper, with roasted fingerlings and lemon vinaigrette-tossed asparagus. Customers pay up to $35 a meal, Taylor said.

Foodies flock to Simon & Seafort’s because of the fishes’ oil content, word-of-mouth popularity and nationwide hype, he said.

The nutritional benefits of salmon are widely recognized. A 3.5-once filet of wild Alaska salmon contains more vitamin D than a glass of milk — and plenty of omega 3 fatty acids, too. The fats give the sockeyes’ their tender texture, and they likely benefit consumers’ health in various ways, such as improving heart health and reducing the chance of developing several degenerative conditions.

Traditional Cultural Tourism Growing in Alaska

Source: Native News Network

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA – Alaska Native villages in the rural 49th state of Alaska are in pursuit to increase tourism. Their culture is an important component in their approach to attract tourists to the Alaska Native villages.

Chickaloon Native Village Ya Ne Dah Ah School

Chickaloon Native Village Ya Ne Dah Ah School students
with teachers Tina Farley and Daniel Harrison


American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association Executive Director Camille Ferguson gave a keynote presentation on growing cultural tourism in Indian Country at the Chickaloon Native Village Traditional Cultural Tourism Summit, held in her home state of Alaska on April 17 – 19.

“Alaska is making waves in the tourism industry, especially Alaska Native tourism,”

said Ferguson.

“Creating educational tourism summits, like the Chickaloon Native Village and Chickaloon Native Village Council have done here, demonstrates a commitment to growth and sustenance of American Indian and Alaska Native tourism.”

The Summit, “The Power of Place – Strength, Survival and Culture,” was held at the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage and presented by the Tene’ Ninicezet project under the Chickaloon Native Village Traditional Council’s Environmental Stewardship Department.

Ferguson was invited to present at the event, where she explained how the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association is working to grow cultural tourism across the six regions of Indian country.

Ferguson also educated attendees on how the international tourism market is bringing new opportunities for tourism growth to the United States and Indian country.

Summit sessions also addressed cultural program development, ways to offer culturally sensitive authentic experiences, how to develop cultural tourism businesses, cultural tourism training options and statewide cultural tourism opportunities.

To learn more about the Chickaloon Native Village and the Chickaloon Native Village Council visit www.chickaloon.com »

Tyonek People in Alaska Set Month of March to Be Friendly: It’s Time for the Ida’ina Gathering

Children are all smiles at the Ida'ina Gathering in 2012. All photos by Becky Pertrovich.
Children are all smiles at the Ida’ina Gathering in 2012. All photos by Becky Pertrovich.

Tish Leizens, Indian Country Today Media Network

What started two years ago in Anchorage, Alaska as a gathering of friends has become a major yearly event for the Tebughna, the Beach People, and it is drawing popular Native entertainers like Redbone and thousands of guests.

The Tebughna Foundation, the sponsor, has set the Ida’ina Gathering for March 29 to 31, at the Dena’ina Civic & Convention Center (for details, click here). The three-day family affair is packed with activities and serves as the main attraction, with several events leading up to it.

“We started this gathering in March 2011. Ida’ina means friends—friendship,” said Emil McCord, executive director of the foundation, adding that they invite all tribes from Alaska and those who just want to enjoy the festivities.

The Tebughna Foundation is supported by Anchorage-based defense manufacturing company Tyonek Native Corporation. Tebughna is the name given to the Tyonek people, who live in Anchorage and in the Village of Tyonek, 40 air miles away.

The first pow wow was an immediate hit, said McCord. “The first year, we got lots of feedback after the gathering. They love the entertainment and atmosphere.”

“We attract about 6,000 people in three days. People come from South Dakota, Wisconsin, Tennessee, North Carolina and Canada,” he said.

“This year, we expect a little more because we have  popular groups coming,” said McCord referring to Rebone and the Barrow Dancers, whose members are Inupiaq. In all, he said, there are 40 group dancers performing.

Among the performers on the list are drums featuring Alaska Nativedancers: Tyonek Traditional Dancers, Ida’Ina Dance Group, Cordova Ikumat Aluttiq Dancers and Ahtna Heritage Dance Group.

Drum groups Namawochi Tribe from North Carolina and Braveheart from South Dakota will also perform as well as a hoop dancer still to be determined.

Headlining the Benefit Concert on the second day is Redbone, a Native American rock group that hit the music charts with the single “Come and Get Your Love,” in 1974, and Medicine Dream, an intertribal First Nations group that perform contemporary Native American music.

Chief Lil Wolf, also known as DJ Braun, 17, who set up his own recording studio in his bedroom and writes his own music will also perform live before his home crowd for the first time.

The run-up to the pow wow are crowd pleasers on their own. On February 8 a sponsor mixer was held where the entertainers and sponsors meet and greet in a food and dance gathering.

On March 12 to 16 the first annual Ida’ina basketball tournament will be be held at the Wendler Middle School. Some 18 adult teams are competing in the tournament.

For the teens, the competition to be Miss Ida’ina ends on March 15, the deadline for Alaska Natives, ages 16 to 25, to write an essay on how they’ve helped their communities and why they should be the next Miss Ida’Ina. The winner gets a $500 scholarship.

Returning this year is the Native Style Runway, where talented artists are given a chance at the Gathering to show their individually designed regalias.

McCord said there is an effort to bring the dates closer. “We started the basketball tournament this year, but the city of Anchorage did not have gym space available close in time to the Gathering. Next year, we want to have it leading up to the Gathering so that visiting teams can attend the Gathering if they chose to.”


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/03/03/tyonek-people-alaska-set-month-march-be-friendly-its-time-idaina-gathering-147971

States want to arm Teachers

By Monica Brown, Tulalip News staff

In light of the mass shootings having taken place many states are taking action. States are either reviewing gun control policies or choosing more proactive ways to protect themselves. While Oregon, the location of the Clackamas Town Center shooting, is divided on whether or not they are pro-gun and Washington has recently offered a Gun buyback program part of a gun safety initiative in order to reduce gun violence, Alaska is definitely pro-gun.

As stated in the Anchorage Daily News, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich stated that he had no current interest in a ban on sales of assault weapons in this country. Begich said decision-makers can’t “jump to the clamor of emotion” and create legislation that they think will be the “magic solution” to gun violence. He says there’s a broader issue of violence and a need for improved mental health services that need to be looked at.

The Alaska State Legislature will consider House Bill 55 sponsored by Republican Rep. Bob Lynn,

“An Act allowing school districts and private schools to adopt a policy authorizing one or more permanent employees to possess one or more firearms on school grounds under certain conditions.”

Alaska is not the only state mulling around the idea of arming their teachers, other states such as Texas, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Alabama are also taking to the idea of arming teachers and school personnel.

Seattle’s first buyback will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26 in downtown Seattle in the parking lot underneath Interstate 5 between Cherry and James Streets. The Seattle Police Department will monitor the buyback.


Read more here: http://www.adn.com/2013/01/10/2748491/begich-warns-against-knee-jerk.html#storylink=cpy