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

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of Sept. 18

Here’s what to expect this week.

A Lucas White (21) block buys Jarrell Williams (1) more room to work during a 49-32 win against Service High School. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Juneau cooks up a conference title

Huskies are back-to-back Cook Inlet Conference champs after lopsided win.

An Alaska judge has ruled that a state lawmaker affiliated with the Oath Keepers, Rep. David Eastman, shown in this February 2022 photo, may stay on the general election ballot in November even though he's likely ineligible to hold public office  (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Judge keeps Oath Keepers lawmaker on November ballot

Judge ordered delaying certifying the result of the race until a trial scheduled for December.

Jim Scheufelt, right, explains how his newly purchased Ford Mustang Mach-E operates to a couple of visitors at the ninth annual Juneau EV EBIKE Roundup on Saturday. He said he has always driven Fords because his father worked for the company, but decided this year to make the switch from gas to electric. He said his wife drives a similar model and their son an electric Ford Focus, making them “an all-EV household.” (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
EV owners rally ’round rain, resourcefulness and solar rays

Ninth annual event celebrates Juneau’s electric vehicle growth as one of fastest in U.S.

Water rushes down Front Street, just a half block from the Bering Sea, in Nome, Alaska, on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022 as the remnants of Typhoon Merbok moved into the region. It was a massive storm system — big enough to cover the mainland U.S. from the Pacific Ocean to Nebraska and from Canada to Texas. It influenced weather systems as far away as California, where a rare late-summer storm dropped rain on the northern part of the state, offering a measure of relief to wildfire crews but also complicating fire suppression efforts because of mud and loosened earth. (AP Photo / Peggy Fagerstrom)
Repair work begins in some Alaska towns slammed by storm

ANCHORAGE — There’s been significant damage to some roads and homes in… Continue reading

j
Sniffen indicted on sexual abuse counts

Sniffen will be arraigned Monday.

In this undated file photo the Trans-Alaska pipeline and pump station north of Fairbanks, Alaska is shown. (AP Photo / Al Grillo)
Oil price drop endangers plan to fund Alaska schools a year early

If oil prices fall, amount is automatically reduced to an amount the state can afford. At

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Juneau Police Department announces technology and reporting updates

Emergeny services and direct reporting will not be interrupted

Most Read