JUNEAU, AK – In a special meeting held Tuesday, the Central Council of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska’s (Tlingit & Haida) Executive Council unanimously voted to move the annual Tribal Assembly from an in-person event to a virtual format. Under the Tribe’s Constitution, the Executive Council is the governing body and has the authority to enact resolutions, regulations, and statutes to safeguard and promote the peace, health, safety and general welfare of the Tribe in conformance with applicable tribal or federal law.
The decision came on the heels of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) new mask guidance released today that recommends fully vaccinated individuals return to wearing a mask indoors in areas with high or substantial COVID-19 transmission. Citing new information about the Delta variant’s ability to spread among vaccinated people, the CDC also recommended that teachers, staff, students and visitors at schools nationwide wear masks regardless of vaccination status.
In the early spring of this year, as lock-downs and restrictions were easing up and vaccines became more readily available, it was the hope of the Executive Council that a deferment of Tribal Assembly from April to October would provide for a greater likelihood for Delegates to gather in-person to govern, conduct and manage the affairs and property of the Tribe.
Unfortunately, the highly contagious Delta variant has posed a significant risk and now accounts for more than 83% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to estimates released by the CDC.
“We have an obligation to maintain the health, safety and welfare of our tribal citizens, Delegates, Elders, families and communities,” shared Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson. “With COVID-19 cases on the rise in all 50 states from the Delta variant, this was a very easy decision for our Executive Council to make.”
The 86th Annual Tribal Assembly will convene on September 30, 2021 as previously scheduled and will include the election of a Delegate/Citizen of the Year, two Associate Justices and an Emerging Leader. For more information on the upcoming Tribal Assembly, please visit www.ccthita-nsn.gov.