Climate change, Alaska Native issues high profile during President Obama visit to Alaska

Alaska Native issues will be the subject of high-level international attention during President Obama’s three-day visit to Alaska that begins today [Monday]. The president has scheduled a listening session with Alaska Native leaders today to discuss climate change, and economic issues. He’s expected to announce a new initiative to help dozens of Native communities facing destruction by erosion and flooding due to the effects of climate change.

  Alaska's largest tribe is boycotting FedEx, a sponsor of the Washington, D.C. NFL team whose name and mascot many consider derogatory to Native Americans. The Juneau Empire reports the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska announced Thursday that it has told tribal employees use of FedEx services will be discontinued.  FedEx is one of the team's top sponsors and owns naming rights to the Washington D.C. stadium. 

Wayside closures will affect travelers on Glenn, Richardson and Tok Cutoff highways

Joaqlin Estus / KNBA

 Housing to increase access to health services for Alaska Natives

Tribal, federal, state, and private sector leaders Wednesday {may 20, 2015] kicked off construction of housing at the Alaska Native Medical Center saying it will improve services for Alaska Native and American Indian people who travel to Anchorage from across the state for health care. A state Senator who helped get the project financed says it will also save the state millions of dollars a year for years to come. 

The Alaska House and Senate are moving their work from Juneau to Anchorage. Legislative majority leaders made the announcement the same day the Governor warned state workers of massive layoffs if the Legislature doesn't approve a fully-funded budget. A quarter of the state's 16,000 employees work in Juneau. KTOO's Lisa Phu talked with some of them on their lunch hour at the State Office Building in Juneau.


Legislators debate states’ rights and constitutionality of a state law to seize federal lands

Monday, legislators voted on a controversial bill that would seize some 170 million acres of federal land in Alaska, excluding national parks and the military. Opponents said the bill is unconstitutional, and, with a fiscal crisis at hand, now is not the time to begin pointless litigation. But bill supporters said Alaskans should be able to fight for what is rightfully theirs. The bill passed 27 to 11 along caucus lines. It will now be sent to the Senate.

Tununak v state of Alaska is "potentially explosive"

Yesterday, the state Department of Law asked the Alaska Supreme Court for more time in a case tribes say will show whether Governor Bill Walker is serious about campaign pledges to work cooperatively with tribes, and determine how the Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA, will be implemented in Alaska.

Taxes, law enforcement, fish and game management up for discussion By Ben Matheson, KYUK Tribal representatives from the Yukon-Kuskokwim region are meeting today in Bethel to discuss whether to create a new regional tribal government or pursue changes to an existing non-profit like the Association of Village Council Presidents. They could also choose to make no changes. The regional for-profit corporation Calista facilitated the Governance Convention. Proponents of a new government say big changes are needed to unify the region.

Alaska Native advocates ask Walker to ensure the Indian Child Welfare Act is properly implemented in Alaska

The Alaska Federation of Natives, and all the regional Native nonprofit organizations in the state are asking Governor Bill Walker to change his position in a case involving the adoption of an Alaska Native child. They say the state’s position in the case Tununuk II vs. the state of Alaska erects barriers between tribal children and tribal homes. The state has said it’s only arguing for compliance with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Alaskan tribes allowed to exercise same rights as lower 48 tribes

Tribes in Alaska are celebrating a decision that allows them to apply to have lands placed into trust status with the federal government. The Department of Interior issued regulations settling a long-running dispute between Interior, the state of Alaska, and tribes over an interpretation of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA). 

Teams buoyed by hope, sense of new beginnings despite state's finances

This weekend, Walker-Mallott transition teams met at the University of Alaska Anchorage campus. Some 230 Alaskans were grouped by topics such as oil and gas, education, fisheries, fiscal policy and health care. Their task was to work toward consensus on goals, priorities, and recommended actions for incoming Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov.-elect Byron Mallott.