What are Tribal Councils?
A Tribal Council is the Federally Recognized governing body of a Tribe. They are responsible for writing and enforcing a Tribal Constitution, governing policies such as financial plans and personnel roles, and acting as a liaison between the Tribe and the US Federal and State governments.
What does a Tribal Council member do?
A Council member is responsible for both the long term and day-to-day operations of the Tribe. They set policy, manage services, approve membership, manage finances, appoint tribal staff, etc., and can even serve on the Tribal Court. Council members are therefore representatives of the Tribal citizens.
How to get involved in a Tribal Council
- Most Tribal Councils hold elections each year for their various positions. Generally, a Tribal council will have a Chair, a Vice-Chair, a Treasurer, and a Secretary, as well as other general council members with equal voting power.
- Vote in your next Tribal Council election!
- Run for Tribal office!
What are Native Corporations?
The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA) was a new approach by Congress to federal Indian policy. ANCSA extinguished aboriginal land title in Alaska. It divided the state into twelve distinct regions and mandated the creation of twelve private, for-profit Alaska Native regional corporations and over 200 private, for-profit Alaska Native village corporations. ANCSA also mandated that both regional and village corporations be owned by enrolled Alaska Native shareholders.
What does an ANC Board member do?
The Board of Directors is the body that advises and leads the corporation as well as setting the policies that help to fulfill the mission and goals of the corporation.
How to get involved in your Corporation
- As a shareholder, you’re a part owner of the corporation. You have the responsibility to elect the Board. No matter how many shares you hold, your opinion counts when it comes to the decisions the corporation makes and the leaders we entrust.
- Attend Annual Meetings.
- Run for your Native Corporation Board!
What are local and state boards and commissions?
Boards and commissions act as advisory groups to an assembly/mayor, a city, a borough, or the Governor. Each board or commission focuses on a specific issue area or service. Some examples of local boards and commissions are the Haines Library Advisory Board, the Mat-Su Borough Health and Social Services Board, or the State of Alaska Board of Fisheries
How to get involved in a local or state board or commission
All Alaskans are eligible to sit on a board or commission. Some of these positions are by appointment, and some are by election. For State boards and commissions, applications for appointment can be submitted at any time, even if vacancies are not yet available.
- State of Alaska – open board and commission list
- State of Alaska – list of all boards and commissions
- Check out your city or borough’s website for other board and commission opportunities!
Why is it important to serve on a local or state board?
Serving on a board or commission is a way to provide your input on crucial issues in your community. Boards and commissions can set policies, or provide direct recommendations to lawmakers. Boards and commissions should be representative of the communities they serve! And are open to all to apply for. Make sure your values are represented in conversations you’re interested in.
What does it do?
- Chairperson: Runs each community council meeting and keeps the council on task
- Treasurer: Manages the finances of the community council
- Secretary: Organizes community council meeting by setting the agenda and taking notes
- At-large member: Attends community council meetings and provides input on topics discussed
Dates and deadlines for electionCommunity Councils generally meet on a monthly basis. Check out your local community council’s information for meeting times and details
How can you engageAnchorage: Find your community council and sign up for email updates (Federation of community councils)
- A city council is an elected group of people that locally governs a town, city, or municipality. Each city council member is elected by the residents of a set geographic area (a district) to represent their needs within the municipality. Each city council member is elected for a set period of time, ranging generally from 1 to 3 years. City councils can vary in size depending on the size of the city
What does a city council member do?
A city council is responsible for writing and enforcing the policies and laws of a city, as well as strategically planning for the city and implementing city projects. The council also sets annual budgets, distributes money to the various departments of a city government, appoints board members, manages elections, and holds public meetings to listen to citizen concerns.
Dates and deadlines for election:
Elections for city council members occur annually on the first Tuesday in October, although not every seat is up for election every year.
How can you engage?
- Vote in your local municipal election!
- Learn who your district representative is
- Attend City Council meetings – generally occur once a month and have been virtual, via Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Attend public meetings for the various city boards/departments. Most departments and committees sponsored by the City Council have monthly meetings. One example of this could be a public transit advisory board meeting, or a municipal parks department meeting. Check out your city’s municipal website for information on how to access these meetings
- Make your voice heard, share your views and personal experience – write, call or meet with you elected official, submit public comments when issues are being discussed and encourage friends, family and neighbors to join you.
- Run for your local district seat and represent your community!
What is a school board?
A school board is a group of elected individuals in charge of governing a city or town’s school district. This means that they set curriculum guidelines and determine how to administer the school district’s funding.. A school board can vary in size, but each board member represents a certain geographic area, and has a set term that is open for election generally every 1 to 3 years.
What does a school board member do?
A school board member is elected to set the operating policies and procedures of a school. Boards are responsible for outline the goals, standards, and principles for the school district, and each board member represents the wants of a community in that process.
Dates and deadlines for election:
School board seats are elected during municipal elections, which take place annually, generally on the first Tuesday of October.
How to engage
- School board meetings are public and can be attended by all residents of a community. Most School Boards meet once or twice a month, and have additional meetings for each committee (such as a Budget committee or Policy committee). Most School Board meetings are now taking place virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic. Check out your school district’s website for information on how to access these meetings
- Vote for your school board representative in the next municipal election!
- Run for school board!
What are Utility boards?
- Utility Boards are an elected group of individuals responsible for managing the public or cooperatively owned utilities of a municipality or state. Electricity, gas, internet, water, and sewer are all examples of Utilities. A Utility board can operate one utility, or a combination of city utilities
What does a utility board member do?
Utility Board members are responsible for managing the services of a given utility. This means setting the prices for services, setting procedures for utility operations, and inspecting utility facilities. Utility Board members for municipalities are elected for a set term.
How to engage
- Utility board members are elected for designated terms. If you receive a bill for a utility, then you are more than likely to be able to vote in board elections!
- Run for your local utility board!
- The Alaska Center Utility Board Election information
What is a Legislator?
A state legislator is a person who writes and passes law, helps to address issues within the community they represent and the state of Alaska. A member of the House of Representatives is elected and serves for a two year term, and a State Senator serves a four year term. In the Alaska Legislature there are 40 Representatives and 20 Senators – each person in Alaska has one state Senator and one state Representative. Find your legislator here and you can also check out the interactive district map.
Dates and deadlines for election
State Legislators are elected during state elections, the primary election is held on the third Tuesday in August in even number years and the general election is held following the primary on the first Tuesday of November. For more information on election dates check out the Alaska Division of Elections website.
How to engage
- The Legislature meets each year for a 90 day session from January through April. The committee meetings and floor sessions are open to the public and can be live streamed on akl.tv and are also shown on local tv stations and streamed through 360 North. Check out the Alaska State Legislature website for information on how to access these meetings.
- Write, call and meet with your elected officials. They are elected by you and your community and are there representing you. It is important they hear from you.
- Submit public testimony either in writing, over the phone or in person for legislation being considered. Each bill is required to have hearings in committees in both the State House and State Senate, during these hearings there is an opportunity for public comment. You can also reach out to the sponsor of the bill, your legislator, and all legislators anytime to share your thoughts, ideas, concerns and any other feedback.
- Vote for your Representative and Senator in every state election!
- Run for Alaska State Legislature!
Each of these statewide positions are elected by residents of Alaska during the State Primary and General Elections, just like our state legislature.
- The Governor is elected to a four year term and responsibilities include running and managing the Executive Branch of Government, signing bills into law, and is the commander-in-chief of the National Guard.
- The Lt. Governor is also elected to a four year term and responsibilities include supervising the Division of Elections and its related duties and functions, and working on state history, regulations, workforce and supervising citizen ballot initiatives.
- Alaska has one US Representative who runs every two years and is a member of the US House of Representatives which includes 435 voting members, and is one part of the federal government legislative bodies. Among other duties, representatives introduce bills and resolutions, offer amendments, and serve on committees. To find out more about the US House of Representatives check out The House Explained.
- Each state elects two US Senators to serve a six year term in the United States Senate, the other half of the federal government’s legislative body. The Senate takes action on bills, resolutions, amendments, and treating by voting. For more information about the US Senate check out their website.
How to Engage
- Make your voice heard! Just like other elected officials, it is important that they hear from you. Our elected officials are making decisions every day that impact our lives – including regulations on hunting and fishing, economy, education, transportation, and much more. Each elected official has staff to help answer questions and provide information to Alaskans. Be sure to call, email and personally meet with your elected officials to discuss issues that are important to you.
- Be sure to Vote! This is one of the most important ways to use your voice is to vote in every election as these individuals have the responsibility of representing all Alaskans in their elected positions.
- Run for a statewide office position!