Regional Committee Votes to Hold Governance Convention

The Calista-sponsored Regional Committee voted Monday to hold a Governance Convention next year to pursue the possibility of a creating a regional tribal government or making changes to the Association of Village Council Presidents.

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A press release from Calista says there was unanimous support for making changes to regional governance. They say 76 percent of delegates agreed to look at establishing a constitutional government, while 58 percent voted to consider changing the role of a regional non-profit, such as AVCP.

The resolution put forward ideas such as changing the name to 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.

What the committee is calling a governance convention is tentatively scheduled for March 2015. There, delegates will make a decision on what direction to pursue.

The committee looked at four options, including the regional tribal government, changes to AVCP, establishing a borough government, and finally, disbanding the regional committee. There was evidently a lack of support for creating a borough government under state law.

Efforts to establish a regional tribal government have come up several times in past decades, and with pushback. AVCP supplied a list of 16 groups that in the past several months opposed an AVCP resolution promoting a regional government or the latest Calista-sponsored version.

A YKHC resolution says a regional tribal government would usurp the power of the 58 individual tribes they serve. AVCP President Myron Naneng told KYUK last week that tribal governments have rejected the idea in the past.

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. The November and February meetings were closed to the public and the media, but open to Calista shareholders and descendants.

A delegate from Napaimute, Devron Hellings, said in the press release that the goal was to let the native people of the region vote on establishing a regional tribal government by the end of next year.

Some 80 percent of the region’s tribes–45 of 56–were at the meeting, and 40 of 45 village corporations.

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Ben Matheson is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network.

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