Bill Signing Ceremony for HB 123 “State Recognition of Tribes”

ANCHORAGE, AK – The Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) is pleased to celebrate the signing of House Bill 123 – Providing for State Recognition of Tribes. This bill recognizes the status of Alaska Tribes and represents an important step forward to modernizing state policy toward Alaska Native Tribes.

At the bill signing on July 28, Alaska Governor Dunleavy will also be signing HB 184, “An Act relating to state participation in a tribal child welfare compact,” and SB 34, “An Act relating to a demonstration state-tribal education compact; relating to demonstration state-tribal education compact schools; and providing for an effective date.”

“This is an historic moment for all Alaska Tribes,” said AFN President Julie Kitka. “The acknowledgment of our 229 federally recognized Tribes by the State of Alaska is a step toward building a stronger relationship with our state government.”

The statute does not impact the existing legal status of Alaska Tribes, nor does it change the state’s responsibility or authority. However, it does recognize Alaska’s Indigenous people. This recognition will help unify our tribal governments with the state government.

Many tribes, tribal organizations, and Alaska Native Corporations formally submitted letters of support for this bill, introduced by Representative Tiffany Zulkosky of District 38. In her sponsor statement, Representative Zulkosky stated that this bill serves as a first step, formalizing in statute, that the State of Alaska will no longer deny Tribes’ existence.

“Tribes have existed since time immemorial and have served as government in its most local form long before statehood. Today, Tribes continue to thrive in Alaska, providing a wide range of essential services, advocacy, and support to Alaskans and families across our state,” said Representative Zulkosky. “I am proud that the state will at long last, for the first time in our state’s history, recognize its Tribal partners in statute. This recognition serves as a long overdue sign of respect and honor for Alaska’s First People. I hope the signing of HB 123 marks the beginning of a new chapter of collaboration and cooperation between the State of Alaska and our Tribes.”

The signing ceremony will be held on July 28, 2022, at 10 a.m. at the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage, AK. AFN is expecting up to 200 tribal leaders and members to attend, as well as law makers and state dignitaries.

Press is invited to the ceremony. Please email Ben Mallott at [email protected] if you have any questions or would like to attend the signing ceremony.