Kevin Paul of the Swinomish Indian Senate, sang at the close of the Elders and Youth conference in Anchorage today. The three-day event aims at strengthening cultural knowledge and indigenous identity, and takes place each year just ahead of the Alaska Federation of Natives convention.
Through simple voice votes, delegates passed all seven of the resolutions brought to the floor. Proposals included broad-ranging calls for equity in rural education, protecting subsistence fishing rights, and a commitment to inclusivity for LGBTQ Alaskans. There were more narrow, specific policy changes, such as adding an inflation adjustment to the $2,000 dividend tax-exemption first put into place under the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. From the stage, First Alaskans Institute President Liz Medicine Crow called for the vote.
“All of those in favor of this resolution signify it by saying aye.” Elders and Youth president Liz Medicine-Crow put to the crowd.
The crowd responded, “Aye!”
“All those opposed, same sign,” Medicine-Crow asked.
The crowd was silent.
“And again it passes with unanimous consent,” Medicine-Crow said.
The conference also passed a resolution that calls for a change in regulations over hunting sea otters. The animals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. That law requires that hunters meet a federally designated blood quantum and be at least a quarter Alaska Native. Supporters of the resolution say that disqualifies a growing number of potential hunters and providers, and ask that the eligibility be determined by tribal membership among direct descendants.
The seven resolutions will go for a vote before delegates at the full AFN convention held in the downtown Anchorage Dena’ina Convention Center this Thursday through Saturday.