The current and future authority of Alaska’s tribal governments

The state and tribes have a relationship that is at times tense but there has been progress on some fronts. This week there was an announcement that the first joint tribal/state court would be starting up in Kenai as a partnership with the Kenaitze Indian tribe and the state. A tribal and state judge will sit side by side and preside together over a wellness court, dealing with substance-related criminal cases.

It was not many years ago that the state would not recognize tribal court adoption orders, so this is a move forward. And today we’re going to be discussing another potential avenue for increased recognition of tribal government authority and that is the ability of Alaska tribes to request having certain lands taken into trust by the Interior Secretary. The state is challenging that decision.

Listen Now:

HOST: Lori Townsend


  • Heather Kendall Miller, tribal rights attorney
  • Sarah Obed, Vice President of external affairs, Doyon

KSKA (FM 91.1) BROADCAST: Friday, Oct. 16, at 2:00 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 17, at 6:00 p.m.

Alaska Public Television BROADCAST: Friday, Oct. 16, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 17, at 6:00 p.m.

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Lori Townsend is the News Director for the Alaska Public Radio Network. She got her start in broadcasting at the age of 11 as the park announcer of the fast pitch baseball games in Deer Park, Wisconsin. She has worked in print and broadcast journalism for more than 24 years. She was the co-founder and former Editor of Northern Aspects, a magazine featuring northern Wisconsin writers and artists. She worked for 7 years at tribal station WOJB on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibway Reservation in Wisconsin, first as an on-air programmer and special projects producer and eventually News Director. In 1997 she co-hosted a continuing Saturday afternoon public affairs talk program on station KSTP in St. Paul, Minnesota. Radio brought her to Alaska where she worked as a broadcast trainer for Native fellowship students at Koahnic Broadcasting. Following her work there, she helped co-found the non-profit broadcast company Native Voice Communications. NVC created the award-winning Independent Native News as well as producing many other documentaries and productions. Townsend was NVC’s technical trainer and assistant producer of INN. Through her freelance work, she has produced news and feature stories nationally and internationally for Independent Native News, National Native News, NPR , Pacifica, Monitor Radio, Radio Netherlands and AIROS. Her print work and interviews have been published in News from Indian Country, Yakama Nation Review and other publications. Ms. Townsend has also worked as a broadcast trainer for the Native American Journalist’s Association and with NPR’s Doug Mitchell and as a freelance editor. Townsend is the recipient of numerous awards for her work from the Alaska Press Club, the Native American Journalists Association and a gold and a silver reel award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Townsend was the recipient of a Fellowship at the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting in Rhode Island as well as a fellowship at the Knight Digital Media Center in Berkeley. She is an avid reader, a rabid gardener and counts water skiing, training horses, diving and a welding certification among her past and current interests. ltownsend (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8452 | About Lori