The Alaska State Commission for Human Rights has scheduled a public hearing for a complaint regarding the use of tribal IDs at a Juneau grocery store.
The issue relates to a 2020 incident when a sign posted at Juneau’s Fred Meyer stated that tribal IDs would not be accepted for tobacco sales. Another sign allegedly posted around the same time said customers would be required to show “valid identification when purchasing alcohol or tobacco.”
Jamiann S’eiltin Hasselquist filed the complaint after an elder called her and told her about the signs.
“He was really shook up and said that it reminded him of those days when signs were posted,” Hasselquist said.
She said the elder was referring to the period before Alaska passed the Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945, when Juneau businesses would post signs that said “No Natives allowed,” “No Dogs, No Natives” and “We cater to white trade only.”
City and Borough of Juneau Assemby member ‘Wáahlaal Gíidaak Barbara Blake said that tribal IDs should be valid for any purpose that any other government-issued identification can be used for.
“People don’t understand that the tribes are a sovereign entity, that they actually have governing authority,” Blake said. “Their inherent authority predates the United States of America, predates the state of Alaska, or any Constitution for the state or for the United States of America.”
Fred Meyer staff eventually took the signs down.
But Hasselquist said the store’s action caused harm to the community, so she submitted a complaint to the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights. She says she wants to make sure that Fred Meyer will offer education and training to make sure this won’t happen again.
“They have to integrate civil rights and anti-discrimination into their policy to teach their employees that it is not okay to hang signs like that,” she said. “That it’s discrimination.”
She wants that education to include Elizabeth Peratrovich and the history of Alaska’s own anti-discrimination movements.
The Central Council of Tlingit and Haida issues IDs for tribal members. Their website lays out what the cards can be used for and gives advice for what people should do if their ID is rejected.
The state Office of Administrative Hearings has scheduled the hearing for Oct. 9. Neither Fred Meyer nor its parent company, Kroger, responded to requests for comment.