The Tlingit-Haida Central Council holds its 78th Annual Tribal Assembly in Juneau this week.
Delegates from around Southeast and a few other areas will hear reports from Sealaska Corporation, the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood, and other organizations.
Council President Ed Thomas says this year’s theme is “Hold Each Other Up.”
“We find that so often we spend a lot of time focusing on the negative. So we want to ask people to work together, lift each other up and try to have a positive way forward,” Thomas says.
Delegates also will discuss and vote on resolutions addressing a variety of issues.
They include elder housing, Native language instruction, the Sitka Sound sac roe fishery and sea otter harvests.
“We’re pretty much going to be dealing with the normal agenda. We have some constitutional amendments that I’m proposing and some statutes on tribal courts that will be strengthened,” Thomas says.
Delegates will meet through Saturday at the council’s Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall in downtown Juneau.
The president’s seat is not up for election this year. Thomas, 71, has announced he will retire in 2014, at the end of his term. He’s been in the post more than 25 years.
One issue before delegates is changing some of the rules for electing the council’s president.
- It aims to preserve Alaska Native culture by giving tribes and tribal organizations the ability to oversee local child welfare problems, rather than social workers coming in from outside their communities. That often results in children being removed from their communities.
- Dressed in full Gwich’in regalia, Potts recounted growing up in a modest dirt-floor hunting cabin in Eagle, losing someone close to suicide, and taking the conventions theme of strength in unity to get back to enjoying life again.
- The Juneau School District wants to consolidate its two high school football programs and cheer squads. Superintendent Dr. Mark Miller said at a press conference Thursday afternoon that the decision to send a formal request to the Alaska School Activities Association has been two years in the making.
- Three helmets, two hats, a headdress and a beaded shirt are from as far back as the 1600s to about 1890. They will be stored through the National Park Service, with access being granted to the Tlingit clans.