89th Annual Tribal Assembly Concludes

Photo provided by Tlingit and Haida

Juneau, Alaska (KINY) – The Central Council of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (Tlingit & Haida) concluded its 89th Annual Tribal Assembly on April 19, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska.

A highlight from the final day was the panoramic picture of Delegates, which occurs only on election years (every two years). This year, there were 120 Delegates present in person and online. The panorama captures the Tribe’s governing body, strength and community representation.

The final day included reports from outgoing Chief Justice Ka’illjuus, Lisa Lang, and Judiciary Committee Chair DonnaRae James, who shared information on the governance, structure and activities of Tlingit & Haida’s Tribal Court.

Outgoing Emerging Leader Lauryn Framke also provided a report that reflected on her term and the mentorship she received while working alongside the Executive Council. “I want to help our people, this is my heart work,” Framke shared during her report. “I have heard the call of upholding our traditions, tribal values, languages and artforms, and I intend to answer this call and continue to serve my people, whether it is as a language or art teacher, or eventually as a Delegate, and maybe even a Vice President.”

Reports were also heard from Sealaska, Tlingit Haida Regional Housing Authority, and SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium.

Near the close of Tribal Assembly, Delegates considered four resolutions not included on the consent calendar introduced on the first day of the Tribal Assembly.

The four resolutions called for support to expand the Tribe’s Foster Care Licensing program, reduce the 100% consent requirement on Native Allotment leases, declare the fentanyl crisis as the Tribe’s highest priority, and designate Portland, Oregon as a new Tlingit & Haida community. All resolutions were adopted with some incorporating final amendments and will be made available online in the coming week.

Resolution 24-12 declared Tlingit & Haida’s highest priority will be to address the fentanyl crisis and other deadly drugs, and identify barriers, such as long-term treatment, and gaps that hinder the Tribe’s ability to provide tribal citizens with culturally competent wrap-around services. Delegates spoke in support of the resolution and shared emotional stories of recovery and how their families and communities have been impacted by the epidemic.

Resolution 24-19, which was sponsored by the Seattle Tlingit & Haida Community Council, supported Portland to be designated as a Tlingit & Haida community. Of significance, this will be the first new community to be authorized to form since Tlingit & Haida was founded in 1935.

According to the Tribe’s Rules of Election, Tlingit & Haida can designate a new community if there are at least 200 tribal citizens who are eligible voters and reside in the community, and at least 25 tribal citizens sign a resolution. The Tribe’s Program Compliance Department reported there are 214 tribal citizens residing within a 100-mile radius of Portland and 30 tribal citizens of voting age signed a resolution requesting the formation of a Portland Tlingit & Haida community.

Wrangell Delegate Mike Hoyt was one of several Delegates who spoke in support of the resolution. “I was actually born and raised in Portland and when I saw this come up, it was something that really spoke to me,” said Hoyt. “I was in contact with a lot of my family still down there because this is an important issue. To me, when I think about growing up in Portland, it was kind of hard. I went to school with 800 kids and I knew only four Alaska Native kids in that entire school. Oftentimes, it was just a lonely place to be. So, when I saw this come up, I thought, this is going to be a great way for our people to start getting together, recognizing each other, and making those connections.”

The adoption of the resolution required a two-thirds majority vote of the total Delegates present at Tribal Assembly and passed with 83 Delegates voting in favor of the resolution. With approval to establish a Portland Tlingit & Haida community, tribal citizens in the Portland area now have the authority to organize and establish a constitution to set the groundwork for electing Delegates and Community Council members for Tlingit & Haida’s next General Election in 2026.

Following the adjournment of Tribal Assembly, Delegates attended the President’s Awards Banquet & Education Fundraiser held at the Centennial Hall, which recognized 11 incredible people throughout Southeast Alaska and beyond who have contributed greatly to our people, communities and culture. The event was webcast live and can be found on Tlingit & Haida’s YouTube channel.

Tlingit & Haida’s education initiatives were announced during President Peterson’s State of the Tribe Address on the first day of Tribal Assembly and include building an education campus in Juneau, Alaska and early education campuses on Prince of Wales Island. For those who would like to support the Tribe’s education initiatives, donations can be made online (click here) or mailed to Tlingit & Haida Finance Department at P.O. Box 25500, Juneau, AK 99802.