The Yees Ku Oo’, Woosh.ji.een and All Nation’s Children dance groups from Juneau perform on the closing day of the Alaska Federation of Natives Annual Convention in this October 2014 photo. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

The Yees Ku Oo’, Woosh.ji.een and All Nation’s Children dance groups from Juneau perform on the closing day of the Alaska Federation of Natives Annual Convention in this October 2014 photo. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

An agenda every Alaskan would find interesting

Alaska Federation of Natives Convention blends politics, economics, culture and more

Government is taking center stage at the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention.

The annual convention hosted by the statewide Native organization starts Thursday in Fairbanks with the theme, “Good Government, Alaska Driven.”

“Good governance means there’s a platform for everyone to have a voice,” said Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson, President of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, in an interview.

Peterson, who is among the people from Southeast Alaska who made the trip for the conference, said an example of that came this past year when public engagement seemed to have a demonstrable effect on Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed budget cuts.

“We all encourage people to be informed and engaged and involved, and it worked,” Peterson said. “I think that’s why you saw a rollback on some of the cuts. “

He said Southeast attendance tends to dip slightly in years the convention, which runs through Saturday, is held in Fairbanks, but he hopes people will stay informed of what’s discussed.

The agenda includes many prominent politicians such as Dunleavy; U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan; U.S. Rep. Don Young; U.S. Attorney General William Barr, Alaska Rep. Bryce Edgmon; Sen. Cathy Giessel; Sen. Lyman Hoffman.

“You have to keep up on issues, you have to be involved, and most importantly we have to get out and vote,” Peterson said.

[Juneauite turns the page with a new book]

Jeff Silverman, communications director for AFN, said the convention’s theme and an agenda that includes discussion of the state’s finances and public safety was specifically made with the interests of both Native and non-Native Alaska residents.

“We’re really thinking there’s parts to the agenda that every Alaskan will find interesting,” Silverman said.

Those who aren’t in attendance will be able to watch the day’s events through a livestream through nativefederation.org. Silverman said people talking about the event on social media are encouraged to use #goodgovernment, #alaskandriven and #2019AFN.

In addition to the elected officials and policy talk, the AFN Convention will feature dance performances, arts displays, consideration of resolutions and remarks from Native corporation leaders.

Sealaska Heritage Institute President Rosita Worl, who the inspiration for this year’s convention graphic, is scheduled to share her thoughts on leadership at 3:30 p.m. Friday.

“I tried to exemplify what good leadership is by highlighting several good leaders I’ve worked with from around the state,” Worl said in an interview.

She said leaders like former State Sen. Eben Hopson, former State Rep. and Lt. Gov. Willie Hensley and former State Sen. Georgianna Lincoln among others all had common traits that made them good leaders.

[Alaska prisoners to be sent out of state]

Worl said all great leaders before they held a role with a corporation or elected office, valued hard work and sought to gain and protect Native rights. Plus, Worl said they were able to put differences aside and work together.

“They were able to work together on these common causes,” Worl said.

She said unity is one of the most important aspects of the annual AFN convention and the AFN in general.

“These Native leaders realized the importance of having a statewide organization where we could speak with one voice,” Worl said. “When we went to D.C. and said this is what we want for the settlement of our aboriginal land claims, we spoke with one voice. AFN is really important.”


• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.


More in News

Aurora Forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Feb. 5

Folks at the Alaska State Capitol openly admit to plenty of fish tales, but to a large degree in ways intended to benefit residents and sometimes even the fish. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
The bizarre bills other state legislatures are considering

Alaska’s Legislature isn’t mulling the headline-grabbers some statehouses have in the works.

This photo shows snow-covered hills in the Porcupine River Tundra in the Yukon Territories, Canada. In July 1997, a hunter contacted troopers in Fairbanks, Alaska, and reported finding a human skull along the Porcupine River, around 8 miles (13 kilometers) from the Canadian border. Investigators used genetic genealogy to help identify the remains as those of Gary Frank Sotherden, according to a statement Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, from Alaska State Troopers. (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)
Skull found in ‘97 in Interior belongs to New York man

A skull found in a remote part of Alaska’s Interior in 1997… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Officer William Hicks stands with JPD Chief Ed Mercer and Deputy Chief David Campbell during a swearing in ceremony for Hicks on Thursday at the JPD station in Lemon Creek. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
New officer joins JPD’s ranks

The Juneau Police Department welcomed a new officer to its ranks Thursday… Continue reading

These photos show Nova, a 3-year-old golden retriever, and the illegally placed body hold trap, commonly referred to as a Conibear trap, that caught her while walking near Outer Point Trail last week. (Courtesy / Jessica Davis)
Dog narrowly survives rare illegally placed trap in Juneau

State wildlife officials outlined what to do if found in similar situation

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Public defender agency to refuse some cases, citing staffing

ANCHORAGE — A state agency that represents Alaskans who cannot afford their… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police: Gift card scam connected to hoax Fred Meyer threats

This article has been moved in front of the Empire’s paywall. A… Continue reading

This is a concept design drawing that was included in the request for proposal sent out by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities seeking outside engineering and design services to determine whether it’s feasible to build a new ferry terminal facility in Juneau at Cascade Point. (Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities)
DOT takes steps toward potential Cascade Point ferry terminal facility

It would accommodate the Tazlina and or Hubbard, shorten trips to Haines and Skagway

Most Read