Legislation Passes Senate for State Recognition of Alaska Native Tribes

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Alaska State Senate Chambers. Image-Matt Howry

JUNEAU — In a unanimous vote, Rep. Zulkosky’s legislation codifying federal recognition of the Alaskan tribes into state law for the first time passed the Senate Friday morning.

Despite shared tribal and state values ​​that seek to ensure vibrant and healthy communities, Alaska was granted statehood at a time of federal Indian policy where the federal government sought to end its relationship of trust with the tribes, and as the federal government finally embraced the necessary change. , passing the Self-Determination and Educational Assistance Act in 1975, Alaska’s statutory policy toward tribes is still a vestige of the past.

House Bill 123 does not change the state’s relationship with the tribes but merely affirms their federally enumerated status.

“The tribes have been recognized by the federal government and by the executive and judicial branches of the Alaskan government, but we, the legislature, have failed to keep our end of the bargain and formally recognize the tribes in Alaska law. state,” Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky (D Bethel) said. “Regardless of that, the state looks to our tribal partners to leverage significant federal resources and provide a litany of essential services to Alaskans living in remote areas of the state.

HB 123 opens the door for us to simply affirm in the Alaska legal code the special and unique relationship that exists between the tribes and the federal government.

“Tribes play a very important role in the identity of the state of Alaska, and it’s critical that the state finally officially recognize that,” said Sen. Lyman Hoffman (D-Bethel).

With the approval of the House, HB 123 proceeds to the Governor for signature.

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