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

This photo shows the National Archives in the Sand Point neighborhood of Seattle that has about a million boxes of generally unique, original source documents and public records. In an announcement made Thursday, April 8, 2021, the Biden administration has halted the sale of the federal archives building in Seattle, following months of opposition from people across the Pacific Northwest and a lawsuit by the Washington Attorney General's Office. Among the records at the center are tribal, military, land, court, tax and census documents. (Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)
Biden halts sale of National Archives center in Seattle

Tribes and members of Congress pushed for the halt.

This photo shows Unangax̂ Gravesite at Funter Bay, the site where Aleut villagers forcibly relocated to the area during World War II are buried. A bill recently passed by the Alaska House of Representatives would make the area part of a neighboring state park. (Courtesy photo / Niko Sanguinetti, Juneau-Douglas City Museum) 
DO NOT REUSE THIS PHOTO WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM JUNEAU DOUGLAS CITY MUSEUM. -BEN HOHENSTATT
Bill to preserve Unangax̂ Gravesite passes House

Bill now heads to the state Senate.

After over 30 years at 3100 Channel Drive, the Juneau Empire offices are on the move. (Ben Hohenstatt /Juneau Empire File)
The Juneau Empire is on the move

Advertising and editorial staff are moving to Jordan Creek Center.

The state announced this week that studded tires will be allowed for longer than usual. In Southeast Alaska, studded tires will be allowed until May 1 instead of April 15. (Dana Zigmund / Juneau Empire)
State extends studded tire deadline

Prolonged wintry weather triggers the change.

COVID at a glance for Monday, April 12

The most recent state and local numbers.

Has it always been a police car. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Sunday, April 11, 2021

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

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Court sides with Dunleavy in appointments dispute

The court, in a brief order, reversed a ruling by a superior court judge.

The Juneau Police Department are seeking Brenda Jay Gallant, 40, after she was indicted recently for her alleged role in a 2021 vehicle arson. (Courtesy photo / JPD)
Police seeking woman indicted for arson

The indictment for the August fire came this March.

Most Read