Jackie Arnaciar Boyer here with Native Peoples Action. We are excited to share with you all some information about a bill that would rectify the long overdue state recognition of tribes that doesn’t exist currently, what NPA is doing in regards to this bill, and how you can join us in advocating for this piece of legislation.
Alaska is home to over 10,000 years of traditional knowledge, 20 Indigenous languages, 229 federally recognized tribes and *ZERO* state recognized tribes. 11 other states in the US recognize 63 federally recognized tribes according to a National Conference of State Legislatures report, the NCSL report states that a common reason legislatures recognize tribes is to honor their historic and cultural contributions. Additionally, state recognition carries weight and legitimizes and normalizes Tribes in everyday conversations. I lost count of the number of times people have asked me what a Tribe is or thought Tribes and Native Corporations were the same thing, not to mention TSA being unfamiliar with Tribal IDs, thinking they aren’t a valid federal identification.
What does HB 123 do?
HB 123 will codify in Alaska law that federally recognized tribes are sovereign governments, it does not change any legal relationship.
What are tribes?
Tribes are distinct and inherently sovereign governments, they are not native or village corporations. The federal governments and courts have reaffirmed that Tribes are inherent, self governing domestic dependent nations. There are 229 federally recognized tribes in Alaska and 574 Tribes in the United States. Congress explicitly referencing Tribes in the constitution, however, Alaska makes no mention.
Why does the state need to recognize tribes?
Alaska has had a previous position of not recognizing and denying the status of Tribal Governments. State recognition serves as strengthening the government-to-government relationship that exists. The foundation of any relationship is first recognition.
Additional Information – Petition
For those who have seen a petition, likely in front of grocery stores -there is a group called Alaskans for Better Government working on making the issue of tribal recognition a ballot initiative for the November 2022 election. They have been collecting petition signatures and have enough to place the Tribal Recognition Act on the November 2022 ballot. This shows that the majority of people spoken to agree that Alaska’s 229 tribes should be formally recognized by the state. NPA would like to see HB 123 pass this session, so that the ballot measure doesn’t become necessary.
Where can I learn more about this?
http://www.akleg.gov/basis/Bill/Detail/32?Root=HB%20123 to read the bill and more information
How can I get involved?
HB 123 hearing happening in Senate State Affairs, TOMORROW Tuesday February 15th at 3:30pm
In person in Juneau: Alaska State Capitol, Room 205
In person at your LIO: please visit http://akleg.gov/lios.php to find your local LIO
From a Juneau-based phone number: 907-586-9085
From an Anchorage-based phone number: 907-563-9085
From a number based anywhere else: 844-586-9085
When you call, you will tell the operator that you wish to testify on the Tribal Recognition Bill in Senate State Affairs. You will most likely have 2 minutes to testify. You are an expert in your lived experiences – be sure to share it, decision makers need to hear from you about why you think this is important.
Email a letter of support
We know it can be difficult at times to reach out to elected officials, we drafted a template to help with the process: https://secure.ngpvan.com/uQloyO2870aoXHCPylD1xw2 you can edit any which way and send off – please note this email goes to your senator and representative, not the committee that is taking public testimony. You are also more than welcome to copy the language as a draft to email the committee.
Email the Committee directly
To watch: You can live stream at Akl.tv