Bill recognizing Alaska Native Tribes signed into law
Bill marks first official recognition of Alaska Native Peoples
Governor Mike Dunleavy signed House Bill 123 last Thursday, marking the first time the Alaska state government has officially recognized the state’s 229 federally recognized tribes. The bill does not affect the legal status of Alaskan tribes, but is the first official recognition of Alaskan Native Peoples.
Also signed into law on Thursday was a bill sponsored by Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, under which tribes can apply to establish a state-tribal compact school.
The signings were part of a four-hour series of speakers at Thursday’s event, hosted by the Federation of Alaska Natives at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. NPC President Julie Kitka called the “official recognition” of the law a “historic step” for a fruitful relationship with the state government.
“The cultural survival of our Indigenous peoples depends on our ability to uphold our values, practice our traditions, and maintain the freedom to live our lives well with dignity and respect for one another,” Kitka said in a statement. press Thursday.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy called the bill “an important step” for Alaska and called the lack of formal tribal recognition so far “an oblivion in history.”
“I’m glad it’s rectified today,” Dunleavy said.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky, D-Bethel, called the measure “long overdue” in a statement provided by the governor’s office.
“I hope today will be seen as the beginning of a new chapter of collaboration and partnership between the state and the tribes of Alaska,” Zulkosky, who is Yup’ik, said in a statement. released Thursday by the governor’s office.
First Lady Rose Dunleavy, who is Iñupiaq and from Noorvik, called Thursday’s signing “significant.”
“Today we recognize our whole person as Indigenous people,” said the first lady. “We recognize the important role that the tribes of Alaska play in our past, our present and our future. Our history and our culture are also the history and culture of Alaska.
Thursday’s full event can be streamed on the Federation of Alaska Natives Facebook page.
Contact reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at [email protected]