A breeze lifts flags hanging outside of the Andrew Hope Building in downtown Juneau Monday afternoon. The Central Council of the Tlingit Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska announced Monday morning its withdrawal from the Alaska Federation of Natives. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

A breeze lifts flags hanging outside of the Andrew Hope Building in downtown Juneau Monday afternoon. The Central Council of the Tlingit Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska announced Monday morning its withdrawal from the Alaska Federation of Natives. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Tlingit and Haida withdraws from the Alaska Federation of Natives

The move goes into effect immediately, according to the tribe’s president.

This is a developing story.

Alaska’s largest federally recognized tribe, the Central Council of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, is withdrawing from the largest statewide Indigenous organization in Alaska, the Alaska Federation of Natives.

Monday afternoon, Tlingit and Haida announced in a news release its plans to withdraw its membership with the AFN, an organization originally formed in 1966 to settle land claims that now works as a cultural, economic and political advocacy group for more than 200 tribal entities across Alaska.

The withdrawal is immediate,Tlingit and Haida President Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson told the Empire in an interview Monday morning. The decision was made after the tribe’s executive council voted on May 1.

According to its website, the AFN currently represents more than 140,000 Indigenous people in Alaska. Now, that number is decreased by Tlingit and Haida’s more than 35,000 tribal citizens.

Peterson said the decision isn’t meant to be an “indemnification” of the AFN but rather was made as he and members of the executive council feel Tlingit and Haida are at a point now where the tribe can manage its relations without AFN assistance.

“I think the driving factor is that we have grown to a place where we’re pretty good at doing advocacy ourselves and can pursue our own priorities — this isn’t an anti-AFN move,” he said. “We still want to hold up the AFN and collaborate with them, and we don’t want to be leaving anybody behind — right now, we’re just looking at our own priorities.”

Peterson said it should be noted that AFN played a critical role for the tribe during the 1980s through the early 2000s, but in recent years he said Tlingit and Haida has been able to expand to the point where he thinks the tribe can adequately advocate for itself by itself.

Peterson said the tribe also pays an annual fee of around $65,000-$70,000 to the AFN to continue its membership each year. He said the change will allow Tlingit and Haida to reallocate those funds to other tribal priorities.

AFN officials did not immediately respond to multiple messages seeking additional information.

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651)-528-1807.

More in News

The Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Encore docks in Juneau in October, 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the Week of May 28

Here’s what to expect this week.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Three people found dead on boat anchored off Sandy Beach

Drug use a possible factor in deaths of one man and two women during three-day span

The Mendenhall Glacier and surrounding area is seen under an overcast sky on May 12. A federal order published Friday bans mineral extraction activities such as mining in an expanded area of land surrounding the glacier for the next 20 years. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Feds expand ban on mineral extraction near Mendenhall Glacier

20-year prohibition on mining, oil drilling applies to newly exposed land as ice continues retreat

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Thursday, June 1, 2023

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

Bulk food in Food Bank of Alaska’s Anchorage warehouse on April 21. (Photo by Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)
State roughly halves the number of Alaskans waiting on food aid, but more than 8,000 remain

By Claire Stremple, Alaska Beacon Mary Wood has been waiting for food… Continue reading

A white butterfly rests upon a fern Saturday at Prince of Wales Island. (Courtesy Photo / Marti Crutcher)
Wild Shots

Reader-submitted photos of Mother Nature in Southeast Alaska.

Photos by Lee House / Sitka Conservation Society
Aliyah Merculief focuses on her run while snowboarding at Snow Camp.
Resilient Peoples & Place: Bringing up a new generation of Indigenous snow shredders

“Yak’éi i yaada xwalgeiní” (“it is good to see your face”) reads… Continue reading

A polar bear feeds near a pile of whale bones north of Utqiaġvik. (Courtesy Photo /Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: Polar bears of the past survived warmth

In a recent paper, scientists wrote that a small population of polar… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Wednesday, May 31, 2023

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

Most Read