Organizations Seek Alaska Federation of Natives Restructuring
FAIRBANKS – A handful of Native corporations and tribes, led by Fairbanks-based Doyon, Limited, are pushing for a restructuring of the Alaska Federation of Natives membership before its upcoming convention.
The move is tied to a resolution passed at the annual AFN convention in 2009 that required the organization to “review its representation and organizational structure.” But it has seen little progress in the years since, according to critics.
Officials with Doyon and other organizations didn’t provide details about their complaints but said the issue remains a controversy. AFN will hold its annual convention Oct. 18-20 in Anchorage.
The controversy briefly became public earlier this month when Doyon posted an item on its Facebook page stating that it and several other organizations were prepared to withhold their AFN dues unless the issue is resolved. The post has since been deleted.
Doyon spokeswoman Sharon McConnell said the Facebook post was meant for Doyon’s 18,500 shareholders, not the general public. She declined to elaborate on the message.
McConnell said the Doyon board has passed a resolution to withhold membership fees if the situation isn’t resolved but that Doyon and AFN officials are proceeding with talks on the matter.
“We are active in discussions on the issue,” McConnell said.
The 2009 resolution called for an evaluation of AFN membership “in order to ensure that it has the flexibility and resources to allow it to remain relevant and to represent the Alaska Native population of today,” among other issues.
It said the organization needs to strengthen and update the structure of AFN through the inclusion of more Alaska Native organizations that represent Native interests; align the AFN board; review the resolutions process; and strengthen, respect and empower tribal governments and nations.
CIRI spokesman Jim Jager described the inaction on the resolution as a “simmering issue” which which his Anchorage-based corporation is unhappy. Jager said the CIRI board is weighing its options, including the possibility of not joining AFN this year.
“Basically, [AFN] needs to adapt to a changing economic environment,” he said. “I think that’s what it’s about.”
A Tanana Chiefs Conference spokesman said TCC didn’t have a comment on the issue at this time.
NANA spokeswoman Shelly Wozniak said that Doyon’s Facebook post that initially linked NANA to the issue was an error and thanked Doyon for removing it. She said the corporation had no additional comment.
AFN President Julie Kitka didn’t respond to requests this week seeking a comment on the issue.
Contact Fairbanks Daily News-Miner staff writer Jeff Richardson at 907-459-7518.