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 Alaska Public Media. She has worked in print and broadcast journalism for nearly 30 years. Radio brought her to Alaska, where she worked as a broadcast trainer for Native fellowship students at Koahnic Broadcasting before accepting a reporting/host position with APRN in 2003. APRN merged with Alaska Public Media a year later. 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. 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.