Final day of the 2017 AFN Convention in Anchorage
The 2017 Alaska Federation of Natives Convention wrapped up its final day at the Dena'ina Center Saturday afternoon. The 51st annual event drew over 5,000 Alaska Natives to Anchorage to debate policies and issues.
Over the three days, AFN delegates from all the state continued to make their political relationship with the federal government even stronger.
During the last few hours of the convention, voting on several dozen draft resolutions was the priority of the day. Native issues blogger and professor of journalism, Mark Trahant, called this year's AFN an extraordinary conference.
"I wish more communities had a mechanism for doing that," said Trahant. "We kind of rent out government to the professionals and this is a chance for everyone to participate and I think in that regard the AFN is a model for society."
Trahant said the convention bridges the differences between Native communities. One of the biggest issues raised and discussed this year is a new partnership between tribal organizations and the state, to allow the tribes to manage certain child welfare services.
It's an issue he says is important on a couple of levels.
"One, it puts tribal communities right at the center of the game and determining what's gonna happen to their children," said Trahant.
Alaska is now first in the nation to create this type of partnership, one Trahant says was long overdue.
"This will allow communities to shape it in a way that says what's best for the child and our family and in our community and do it in a way that's less formal and structured, but also one where the tribal interest is taken into consideration."
As for the rest of this year's convention, Trahant says, policy aside, there's also a strong sense of community that was built here.
"It brings so many people from a variety of life together in a way to debate policy, and if you think about citizens in government, this is it. This really allows people to have a say in their lives in ways you just don't often see in contemporary life."
Giving Alaska Natives more power over their destiny.
A representative of the Alaska Federation of Natives says they plan to release the results of Saturday's Resolution voting next Friday.