A new regional tribal government, new taxes, and a constitutional convention will be considered when theCalista-facilitated Regional Committee meets Monday in Anchorage.
The delegates will look at major changes to how the YK Delta is governed through four main resolutions under discussion. The first option being considered would strengthen the role of the Association of Village Council Presidents. Amendments include changing the name to the “Association of Sovereign Yupiit Villages,” providing for direct election of the President, and modifying the charter to allow the President to take executive action to carry out directives from the board.
The next option is to create a new borough government under Alaska state law, with the goal of strengthening the region’s political voice.
The third option is a constitutional convention to establish a regional tribal government with the intention of assessing taxes currently being paid by regional and village corporations to the United States and State Governments.
Willie Kasayulie is Chairman of the Calista board of Directors, as well as the Regional Committee and its steering committee.
“I think the strongest of the three options would be a regional tribal government format. In that concept we basically create a two house system, similar to the state and federal legislative structure. One side of the house would include tribal representation and tribal governments, the other house would be the house of organizations,” said Kasayulie.
A draft 12-page constitution lays out a regional tribal government, complete with three branches of government, power for law enforcement, and fish and game management. The resolution looks at capturing income taxes from native corporations and assessing taxes on regional lands and businesses.
The Regional Committee formed this February after the Calista board of directors voted to create the group to study problems with current legislation affecting Alaska Native people, tribal government, and corporations, and come up with a strategic plan. A 16-person steering committee has met several times since the spring. Calista’s website says more than 50 tribes have registered for the second full meeting in Anchorage.
Several regional organizations have passed resolutions opposing the Regional Committee and regional tribal governments, including the Bethel Native Corporation and Bethel’s tribe, ONC among others.
The Association of Village Council Presidents provided a list of 16 groups opposing an earlier AVCP resolution in support of a regional tribal government, or the Calista Regional Committee process. Myron Naneng is AVCP President.
“That has come up before but it has been rejected by tribal governments in the villages because they want to ensure they have their local tribal power. This happened 1986 and 2000. We’re kind of perplexed by the fact that Calista wants to move in this direction,” said Naneng.
A final option calls for no changes in governance and would terminate the regional committee. The meeting agenda includes a vote on whether to pursue any of the governance options.
The Regional Committee meets at the Egan Center in Anchorage Monday. Calista’s board approved 200-thousand dollars to run the committee process. Several corporate sponsors made it possible to fly in delegates to Anchorage for the meeting.
KYUK requested to broadcast the proceedings for both of this year’s full meetings, but Calista declined. When KYUK requested that a reporter attend the meeting, a spokesperson said the meeting was closed to the public and to the media. It’s open to shareholders and descendants, space permitting.
Resolutions and draft constitution are posted on Calista’s webpage.