State bill would make November Alaska Native Heritage Month

Published: Mar. 17, 2019 at 9:21 AM AKDT
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November would be permanently declared Alaska Native Heritage Month under legislation previously in the state Senate.

The bill’s sponsor, Anchorage Democratic Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson, says introducing such bills is a way to show communities that lawmakers care. Gray-Jackson has also proposed permanently making February Black History Month in Alaska.

The Juneau Empire reports that former Gov. Bill Walker issued proclamations declaring November as Alaska Native Heritage Month, but those declarations weren’t permanent.

Richard Peterson, president of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, says Walker’s actions were appreciated. But Peterson says a permanent, more formal recognition would be meaningful.

Gray-Jackson says it’s a priority for her to get monthly recognition such as this secured in state law.