Joaqlin Estus, KNBA - Anchorage
Joaqlin Estus is a reporter at KNBA in Anchorage.
Until recently, Governor Sean Parnell, like his two Republican predecessors, and Governor Wally Hickel before them, used lawsuits, legislative initiatives and policies to dispute or diminish tribal authorities on several fronts. The Parnell administration now is taking a step toward acknowledging tribal sovereignty.
Alaska has ranked among the top 10 states in several categories of illegal drug use in recent years. Last week, participants at the “Reclaim Alaska: 2014 Substance Abuse Summit” hosted by the Aleutian-Pribilof Islands Association talked about the problem and ways to address it. Participants were also cautioned that civil rights must not be trampled in the process of stemming the flow of illegal drugs.
Sunday, Aug. 31, is the deadline for comments to FEMA, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency, on a policy carrying out a law that would allow tribes to request emergency and major disaster declarations.
A $1.5 million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation will fund a five-year pilot project to help American Indian and Alaska Native college students achieve advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM subjects.
According to the recently released “Healthy Alaskans 2020,” – an assessment and strategic plan issued every decade, Alaskans aren’t all that healthy. A 15-page overview of Alaskans’ health status as of 2012 shows Alaskans are not doing as well as people in the U.S. overall in every category.
Senator Mark Begich last week visited the three lower Yukon River villages of Marshall, Alakanak, and Emmonak. He heard from dozens of people about infrastructure needs, and issues such as the importance of subsistence and the need for local law enforcement.
The August 19th primary is 15 days away, but voting opens Monday for early absentee, special needs and electronic transmission voting State Elections director Gail Fenumiai says the state has set up polling places across Alaska for registered voters.
Alaska has model job training and employment programs, according to the head of the U.S. Department of Labor. Earlier this week Secretary Tom Perez visited facilities in Fairbanks and Southcentral Alaska. He said the Alaska Job Corps Center in Palmer stands out. There, young people learn job skills in areas such as accounting, construction, and nursing.
Before the District Court’s ruling on Wednesday directing the state to translate all election materials into Native languages for voters with limited English skills, another effort to reach the same goal was in the works.
Dog owners know the challenges of dog training – first to get them housebroken, then to stop jumping on people or perhaps to pull on their harness on command. But police dogs have to meet a remarkable level of obedience. KNBA’s Joaqlin Estus recently met up with Aerie, a police dog with the Anchorage Police Department, and his handler in an Anchorage parking lot, and has this story.
On Saturday, two Athabascan men completed a 375-mile trek honoring their mother Katie John, and her cause – subsistence rights. Dozens of people joined them for the last few miles, and about 200 celebrated the walk’s end at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage.
A bill that would give tribes greater jurisdiction over substance abuse, domestic violence and other misdemeanors was passed out of the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee last week despite objections from the state.
The sponsor of the Safe Families and Villages Bill, U.S. Senator Mark Begich, said the bill encourages tribes to work with the state of Alaska to develop agreements on tribal court jurisdiction. But he said it also gives tribes a way to take on added responsibilities through an agreement with the federal government.
Robert Sanderson is first vice president of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes and was at the mining conference. He also is concerned that Alaskans don’t have legal standing to address Canadian mining.
It’s hard to use wind as a main power source because it fluctuates. But four small Alaskan villages have succeeded in creating an innovative wind-diesel system that works even in harsh, variable weather conditions.
State Attorney General Michael Geraghty testified before a legislative committee this week to respond to a national report that singles out Alaska for its high rates of violence against Alaska Natives, especially Native women. The Indian Law and Order Commission report was deeply critical of Alaska’s law enforcement and judicial system. But the state’s Geraghty says the Indian Law and Order Commission is trying to impose lower 48 solutions that won’t work in Alaska.
Under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, more than 200 village corporations were promised land in and around their communities. At a meeting of the Alaska Native Village CEOs Association in Anchorage this week, participants described the problems they’re encountering with the contaminated lands that were conveyed to them.
Tuesday, the State House Community and Regional Affairs Committee heard from several people about the sorry state of law and order for Alaska Natives. Legislators asked them why they think the state is the source of the problem, but the person in the best position to answer that question couldn’t make it to the hearing. The Attorney General had a scheduling conflict.