Alaska Federation of Natives convention will go virtual for 2020

Bryce Edgmon, in a blue parkie,  stands at a podium
Bryce Edgmon provides an update on Alaska’s Bush caucus on October 17, 2019, during the annual convention of the Alaska Federation of Natives in Fairbanks. AFN announced that the 2020 convention would be entirely virtual out of concerns over the coronavirus. Edgmon will deliver the 2020 keynote address. (Photo by Tripp J Crouse/KNBA)

The 2020 annual convention of the Alaska Federation of Natives will go virtual because of COVID-19 health and safety concerns. AFN announced the decision Wednesday in a news release.

AFN president Julie Kitka said it was a tough decision, “but the health and safety of our delegates, participants, and attendees comes first.”

“The high risk factors of holding a large, indoor meeting, with lots of Elders and delegates coming in from across Alaska, far outweigh the benefits of gathering in person,” Kitka said in the news release.

The virtual convention will be held Oct. 15-16.

While there will be no in-person portion this year, the virtual convention will include live presentations and pre-recorded videos from Native leaders, and state and federal officials.

The theme for the 2020 convention is “Good Government, Alaskans Decide” — a nod toward Census 2020 and the upcoming elections.

“Never has the need for responsive, transparent governance been more apparent than this year, with the COVID-19 global pandemic continuing to impact all Alaska communities,” Kitka said.

First Alaskans Institute announced in July that the annual Elders and Youth conference will also be held virtually. Elders and Youth is usually held the Sunday through Wednesday before the AFN convention.

Disclosure: KNBA is a broadcast partner of the Alaska Federation of Natives.