Alaska governor to sign tribal recognition bill

July 22, 2022 GMT

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy is expected next week to sign legislation to formally recognize tribes in the state.

The Alaska Federation of Natives announced the bill signing would take place Thursday. Shannon Mason, a Dunleavy spokesperson, confirmed the timing.

The measure, from Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky, a Bethel Democrat, passed the Legislature in May.

Supporters of the bill have called it an overdue step that would create opportunities for the state and tribes to work together.

The Alaska Federation of Natives said the measure “does not impact the existing legal status of Alaska Tribes, nor does it change the state’s responsibility or authority. However, it does recognize Alaska’s Indigenous people. This recognition will help unify our tribal governments with the state government.”

“The acknowledgment of our 229 federally recognized Tribes by the State of Alaska is a step toward building a stronger relationship with our state government,” the group’s president, Julie Kitka, said in a statement.

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The measure is similar to an initiative that was slated to go before voters later this year. Initiatives that qualify for the ballot can be bumped if the Legislature passes substantially similar legislation first.

Mason by email said the bill “would eliminate the need for the ballot initiative.”