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Arctic Slope Regional Corporation votes to leave Alaska Federation of Natives

Dancers perform at the 2018 AFN conference
Dancers perform at the 2018 AFN conference(KTUU)
Published: Dec. 13, 2019 at 5:57 PM AKST
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The Arctic Slope Regional Corporation voted unanimously to drop its membership from the Alaska Federation of Natives, the group announced in a release sent out Friday.

The decision takes effect Dec. 31, 2019.

In the release, the corporation writes that it will focus on development within the region "where there is an increased degree of alignment as well as additional efficiencies related to shared geography and other interests."

Julie Kitka, the president of the Alaska Federation of Natives, the largest statewide Native organization, downplayed the significance to the political clout of the group.

"I think we just respect them for focusing on local concerns and challenges, and I expect that we'll continue to work with them whether they're in AFN or not," she said.

The decision comes after the Alaska Federation of Natives voted to

at its annual conference in Fairbanks this October.

At the time, Crawford Paktokak, chairman of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation board of directors, argued forcefully that environmentalists were using climate regulations to tell Alaska Natives how to hunt and to halt resource development.

However, neither Kitka nor ASRC said that the tension over climate change was the cause of the decision to leave. Kitka said that ASRC had been heading in the direction of more local control and direction for years. She pointed to its incorporation into a borough and forming the Voice of the Arctic, an advocacy group of North Slope Inupiat formed in 2015.

"There's not a specific issue, and I think there will be still working together on things, so I'm viewing it from a positive point of view," Kitka said.

Still, she acknowledged that the decision was tough. She said that there wouldn't be any major financial implications for AFN, but that having ASRC in discussions is helpful.

"Well, clearly there is a negative. We'd like them in the room in all of our meetings on that, but I do still expect we'll work with them on many things," she said.

Meanwhile, she said, AFN would focus on its other board-set priorities, including climate change.

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