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Initiative recognizing Alaska Native tribes to appear on November ballot

An initiative that would formally recognize Alaska Native tribes has garnered enough signatures to qualify for the general election ballot in November.
Published: Mar. 3, 2022 at 12:00 PM AKST
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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - An initiative that would formally recognize Alaska Native tribes has garnered enough signatures to qualify for the general election ballot in November, according to Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer.

In a media release from the nonprofit Alaskans for Better Elections, the initiative required signatures from at least 10% of the number of voters that cast ballots in the most recent general election — in this case 36,140 — and signatures from voters in at least three-fourths of the House districts in the state, as well as at least 7% of voters in each house district from the previous general election.

Meyer said in the release that the Alaska Division of Elections verified 47,199 signatures that were submitted by Alaskans for Better Elections, as well as signatures from all 40 House districts. Alaska’s general election is Nov. 8, 2022.

“The ballot initiative presents a historic opportunity for Alaskans to honor the Native peoples and communities that have stewarded Alaska for thousands of years, and to create a stronger relationship between Tribes and the State,” the release said. “Recognition of the Tribes in statute will unlock our creative problem-solving potential, leveraging a clearer legal relationship between the two governments to bring the strength of both to bear on solving Alaska’s most entrenched issues like rural and public safety, education, and child welfare.”

The release added that Alaskan tribal groups bring in over $2 billion each year for health care and infrastructure services and projects.

A hearing for House Bill 123, a similar bill that would provide state recognition for tribes, was scheduled to take place Thursday, but was canceled. Wednesday’s release said that if HB 123 passes the Alaska Senate and is signed into law with “no substantial amendments,” the current initiative would not move forward.

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