ANCHORAGE - Thousands of Alaska Natives from around the state are in Anchorage for their largest gathering of the year.
Thursday was the official opening of the annual Alaska Federation of Natives Convention.
This year's theme is "Success Beyond Barriers,” which include social issues like suicide and the economics of rural life.
This is a big convention and everyone involved has the same goal: thriving Native communities.
One work session held Thursday afternoon focused on the high cost of energy in rural Alaska.
Remember, people in these small communities are paying three to five times what we here in Anchorage pay in heat and utilities. And the cost of groceries can also be astronomically higher.
Deborah Vo, who led a work session in rural energy, said solutions can often be found by just one person who wants to make a difference
“So empowering local communities... finding that local champion who's going to take that effort and carry it on to a regional level – let's hear the solutions from rural Alaska. You know the challenges. We'd like to hear the solutions,” she said.
The delegate from Chenega Bay agreed that a local advocate is important.
Pete Kompkoff talked about the improvements his community has seen over the past few years.
“We're doing pretty good in Chenega. We've tried to lower our cost of fuel. We've got a hydroelectric plant scheduled to go in.The generators are already set up for it and we got our dam was rebuilt this year and redone.”
The convention continues Friday and Saturday.