More than two dozen resolutions pass at AFN with minimal debate or disagreement

A member of the Alaska Native Sisterhood Grand Camp leads a crowd at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention in a closing prayer on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

This year, Alaska Federation of Natives members were aligned on a resolution that calls for congressional action to take immediate action to permanently protect subsistence hunting and fishing in the state’s navigable waters.

The proposal focuses on Indigenous rights, but Myron Naneng, a delegate representing Hooper Bay’s Sea Lion Corp., proposed an amendment to include the word “aboriginal” in resolution language. 

“The reason why we’re adding aboriginal is because back in 1997, when we were negotiating the migratory bird treaty and we tried to use ‘Indigenous’, but the people that we negotiated with said ‘Indigenous’ is all inclusive of everyone that lives in rural Alaska, but we were talking about Alaska Native aboriginal fishing and hunting rights,” he said.

AFN also unanimously passed a resolution in favor of Alaska’s ranked choice voting process.

Matthew Nicholai, who is originally from Kwethluk, spoke in opposition of Alaskans for Honest Elections, an initiative working to repeal Alaska’s ranked choice voting system.

“It’s very important our Native people to stand up and show up to the elections to fight this saying it’s ‘honest and fair.’ It’s not,” he said.

A resolution promoting a health initiative that leverages the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race to increase awareness around health and wellbeing was not considered. It was submitted after a deadline and AFN members declined a motion to suspend the rules to include it in proceedings. Regional caucuses that opposed moving that resolution forward said they wanted to maintain the integrity of the parliamentary procedures AFN follows.

In prior years, rules suspensions have caused tension among AFN members.

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