JUNEAU, AK (April 23, 2022) – For the third year, Delegates assembled virtually to govern and conduct the business of the Central Council of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (Tlingit & Haida). More than 100 Delegates from 21 communities gathered for the 87th Annual Tribal Assembly over three days to act on resolutions and proposed amendments to governing documents, hear reports, and complete elections.
The assembly commenced with the Southeast Alaska Native Veterans posting the colors, followed by the introduction of Tribal Host Fred Lauth Sr. of Washington and Tribal Hostess Millie Schoonover of Craig, Alaska who were both recognized for their many years of service to Tlingit & Haida and contributions to their community.
Welcome remarks were received from United States Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy, and Alaska Native Brotherhood & Sisterhood Grand Camp Presidents Marcello Quinto and Daphyne Albee.
President Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson delivered the State of the Tribe Address on the first day of Tribal Assembly. Much of his address highlighted the Tribe’s progress made this past year to increase services, office locations, and land acquisitions to better serve and meet tribal citizens where they are at. The Tribe recently opened an office in Anchorage, Alaska and is actively establishing Community Navigator positions throughout Southeast Alaska, Washington, California and Anchorage to provide resource support to tribal citizens. Following the purchase of two properties in the Aak’w Village District near downtown Juneau, Tlingit & Haida is also working toward building a centralized campus.
President Peterson’s address also shared information on the Tribe’s state and federal advocacy through consultation, testimony and letters of support. The Tribe has been actively supporting efforts to gain state recognition of Alaska tribes, expand and improve public safety in rural Alaska communities, address the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons, and advocate for the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2022, Alaska Native Vietnam-Era Veterans Land Allotment, and Unrecognized Southeast Alaska Native Communities Recognition and Compensation Act.
“Because the Biden Administration has committed to government-to-government consultation, we’ve had more opportunities to engage in high-level meetings which has led to two recent trips to the White House and an appointment to the PROGRESS Act Negotiated Rulemaking Committee,” President Peterson shared in his address.
Tlingit & Haida’s section chiefs reported on the Tribe’s financials (audit, trust fund and budgets), relief programs to support tribal citizens and small business owners impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, business enterprise activities, programs and services, and new endeavors to increase educational opportunities, broadband connectivity in rural communities, land stewardship, wellness and healing, and food security.
The theme for this year’s Tribal Assembly was “We Go Forward Together” which translates to “A shukáade yaa ntoo.át, wooch.een” (Lingít) and “Gu dánhl gwíi t’aláng íijaa” (Xaad Kíl). Kate Cherrington and Bentham Ohia of New Zealand, who are Indigenous Māori and owners of Puata Hou Ltd., delivered the keynote address which held up the Tribal Assembly’s theme. In their message, they shared that working together and creating intergenerational pathways of knowledge is a critical component for healing, advancing our people, improving the health and well-being of communities, and reclaiming and preserving our languages and traditions.
Reports were also heard from the Tlingit Haida Tribal Business Corporation, Holland & Knight, LLP, Emerging Leader, Youth Commission, Violence Against Women Task Force, Tribal Court, Bureau of Indian Affairs Alaska Regional Director, SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, Sealaska, Tlingit Haida Regional Housing Authority, Southeast Alaska Landless Corporation, and Tribal Assembly committees.
On the final day of Tribal Assembly, elections were held. President Peterson, who ran opposed this year, was reelected to serve a fifth term. He addressed the Delegates following his reelection.
“I look forward to another term working with the Executive Council to move our Tribe forward. I truly believe our people are the best in the world and we need to give them opportunities to be the best versions of themselves,” President Peterson said.
During elections, Delegates elected six Vice Presidents to serve on the Tribe’s Executive Council for a two-year term – 1st Vice President Jacqueline Pata (Juneau, AK), 2nd Vice President Rob Sanderson Jr. (Ketchikan, AK), 3rd Vice President Catherine Edwards (Washington), 4th Vice President Will Micklin (California), 5th Vice President Clinton Cook (Craig, AK), and 6th Vice President Delbert Kadake (Kake, AK).
Also seated were Marlis Boord (Sitka, AK) as Emerging Leader, Cheryl Demmert-Fairbanks (New Mexico) as Associate Justice, and David Light (Anchorage, AK) as Delegate/Citizen of the Year.
Delegates considered 18 resolutions during Tribal Assembly – 11 were adopted under the consent calendar and seven were referred to committees to review and make recommendations to the Tribal Assembly. Of the resolutions referred to committees, four were adopted.
One resolution adopted by the Tribal Assembly came forward from Tlingit & Haida’s Youth Commission. It calls upon Tlingit & Haida to mandate culturally safe workshops for all State of Alaska school educators in collaboration with respected tribes within each region as a solution to address systemic racism, the decline of student success rates, and inadequate implementation of community wellness.
Other adopted resolutions, in part, called for Tlingit & Haida to support the improvement of criminal laws and practices regarding sex crimes, cultural attire at graduation, investments in behavioral health infrastructure, participation in a public alert warning system, reduction of trawler bycatch, and efforts to amend to Public Law 116-9 to allow Alaska Native Veterans to draw lands from the Tongass National Forest. All adopted resolutions will be made available on Tlingit & Haida’s website: www.ccthita-nsn.gov/government/assembly/resolutions.
President Peterson closed out the Tribal Assembly by thanking Delegates for their time and attention during the virtual gathering.
“I look forward to when we’re together again in person. There’s nothing like us gathering together, the laughter, the accountability, the hard conversations, and the debate,” President Peterson shared.