2 tribal councils announce decision to withdraw from AFN

Tlingit and Haida tribal council to withdraw from AFN
Published: May. 9, 2023 at 7:28 AM AKDT|Updated: May. 9, 2023 at 10:22 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The largest federally recognized tribe in Alaska will no longer be part of the largest statewide Native organization.

The Central Council of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska announced Monday it will not be renewing its membership with the Alaska Federation of Natives.

In a separate announcement, the Tanana Chiefs Conference also said it would be leaving the federation, citing subsistence ways of life as a key point of contention between it and AFN.

“Over the past few years, over 40 resolutions were passed by the full board at AFN that support a subsistence way of life, but no significant action has been taken on those directives,” the Tanana Chiefs Conference said in a statement. “A lot of effort, time, and money goes toward participating in AFN and it is important that those resources be utilized to their maximum potential to advance TCC’s Tribal priorities.”

The Tanana Chiefs Conference bills itself as the largest nonprofit group in Interior Alaska, representing 39 villages and 37 federally recognized tribes over a region that covers 235,000 square miles.

According to a press release sent out by the Tlingit & Haida council, the organization’s executive council voted to end its membership with AFN during a meeting held on May 1.

With more than 35,000 tribal residents, the Tlingit and Haida council has been part of the federation for most of its 57-year history.

The council did not specify a reason for leaving the Federation of Natives, but said it will continue to collaborate with the federation where it is needed.

In a written statement, Tlingit and Haida President Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson said that the tribe has committed to advocating for its people.

“The truth of the matter is our Executive Council has diverse areas of expertise and this has been a true strength in the governance of our Tribe,” Peterson said. “We have also built up a Governmental Affairs team that supports our work on important legislation, federal/state tribal issues, budget priorities, and funding opportunities.”

The Alaska Federation of Natives is composed of over 200 tribes that are federally recognized and 10 regional corporations, according to the AFN website.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional information.