Alaskans for Better Government pushes for tribal recognition

A stack of Cordova General Election ballots. (March 2, 2021) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

A group backing a statewide ballot initiative to have the state of Alaska formally recognize all 229 federally-recognized tribes in Alaska delivered over 55,000 signatures for certification on Wednesday, Jan. 12, to the Division of Elections office in Anchorage.

The ballot initiative would create a permanent government-to-government relationship between the state and the tribes.

According to the Alaskans for Better Government campaign the ballot initiative, if passed, would streamline service delivery, amplify federal and state funds for a sustainable and long-term impact, and tap into over 10,000 years of indigenous knowledge to enhance the lives of all Alaskans.

Since the federal government, Alaska Supreme Court and Attorney General of Alaska have already determined that tribes are sovereign nations, state recognition would be a critical step in allowing tribes to work with the state as equal partners, they said.

The initiative has been endorsed by the Copper River Native Association, Koniag Corp., Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and several other Alaska Native entities.