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Assembly to consider a formal relationship with Native Village of Eklutna

The Anchorage Assembly gathers for a continued meeting on Aug. 26, 2020.
The Anchorage Assembly gathers for a continued meeting on Aug. 26, 2020.(KTUU)
Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 6:53 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - An upcoming ordinance with the Anchorage Assembly seeks to establish a formal government to government relationship between the municipality and the Native Village of Eklutna.

The ordinance follows a 2019 resolution from the assembly seeking to establish the relationship and lays out a process for Eklutna’s tribal government to provide input to municipal processes. One of the first things it would do is set up regular meetings between the assembly and Eklutna.

“The assembly and school board meet four times yearly in public meetings, so we follow these conventions… and direct the assembly and the Eklutna Village to meet at least two times yearly,” said Assistant Municipal Attorney Jessica Willoughby at an assembly work session Friday.

From there, the ordinance would direct the municipality to develop policies with the village identifying programs and projects that affect the village of Eklutna, as well as the people behind those programs and projects. The exact details of those policies aren’t clearly defined by the ordinance, but one of its sponsors, Assembly Member Christopher Constant said Friday that this lays out the path to write them with the village’s input.

“There are discussions about trainings and implementation of policy across the administration, that will be implemented by the mayor and the mayor’s team on the eighth floor,” Constant said. “There will be some policies that the assembly will contemplate and move forward with in the future, and those will be on us and the clerk to administer and implement.”

The 2019 resolution that sparked this ordinance saw some opposition during its passage because of Eklutna’s efforts to build a gaming hall on their land, but at the work session the village’s president, Aaron Leggett, explained those conversations are happening with the federal government.

“At that level, it’s government-to-government, between our tribal government and the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Department of the Interior,” Leggett said.

While this ordinance is between Anchorage and Eklutna, discussion at Friday’s work session touched on the possibility of expanding this concept to apply to other tribal governments around the state. For now, though, this ordinance is set for a public hearing and a vote at the Assembly’s Tuesday meeting.

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