ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The Alaska Federation of Natives Convention returns to Anchorage next week, bringing three days of gathering, discussions on policy and politics, and focusing on innovation.
The convention – billed as the largest gathering of indigenous people in the country – kicks off Thursday morning and runs through Saturday at the Dena'ina Center. This year’s theme is Innovation in the Past, Present and Future.
The statewide gathering will include speeches from Gov. Bill Walker, Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, and members of President Trump’s administration, including a video presentation from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and Department of Interior officials from Alaska, Tara Sweeney, the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, and Joe Balash, the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management.
Each day’s events begin at or after 8 a.m., and discussion topics include making a difference in state engagement, the Governor’s Tribal Advisory Council, Innovation in leadership strategies, and challenges facing the Arctic, advancing subsistence laws, and utilizing emerging technologies with traditional values.
Friday afternoon includes a general election candidates’ forum, with U.S. House and Gubernatorial candidates.
Saturday, delegates will vote on resolutions, to give the AFN guidance on initiatives to undertake and policies to pursue.
The gathering isn’t all business, though. Each day Native artisans will showcase their wares at the customary art fair. Carvings, beadwork, knives, gloves, hats, and much, much more is on display. There’s even an Alaska Native food demonstration on Friday at the lunch break.
AFN is the end of a week’s worth of events for those looking to enrich their Alaska Native culture. To start the week, elders and young people will gather for the Statewide Elders and Youth Conference, hosted by the First Alaskans Institute. The 2018 theme for that gathering is “Na Ganiyaatgm, Na Lagm” (Our Ancestors, Our Fire).
Elders will share their experiences and guidance with youth between the ages of 13 and 18.
Participants will discuss the Governor’s recent declaration of a linguistic emergency, will talk about voting, resilience, technology, and living and loving cultures. They’ll also be able to watch the play production ALAXSXA/ALASKA, which delves into cross-cultural experiences.
The Elders & Youth Conference is held Monday- Wednesday, Oct. 15-17.