Local natives urged to renew memberships
Representatives from the WCA’s membership community are hoping for a big turnout this weekend.
A membership rally scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday could provide a needed boost to local tribal enrollment. The Wrangell tribe is moving toward photo identifications for its members, which will assist local members in applying for their exemption to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known colloquially as Obamacare, said Apryl Hutchinson, the membership committee chair. A representative from AICS may be on hand to answer questions about the Act and the exemption for Native Alaskans, Hutchinson said.
“The WCA’s ultimate goal is to have membership cards with pictures,” she said. “We’re not quite there yet.”
Officials from the larger Tlingit/Haida organization plan to attend the rally after an earlier visit to the Alaskan Native Sisterhood and Alaskan Native Brotherhood December Christmas party was cancelled because of weather, Hutchinson said.
Membership in various local tribal organizations is shown by tracing lineage from what is known as a “base roll,” a list of people submitted to the U.S. government in 1935 identifying the local tribal members, Hutchinson said.
“That’s not exactly what Wrangell requires,” she said.
The current push involves trying to update records for the information age. Existing records may include names, but often don’t include things like whether or not a member has a Facebook page or other social media.
Increasing membership rolls is crucial not only for maintaining cultural heritage, but also to allow the WCA to boost its eligibility for grants, which may hinge on the ability to show large membership, Hutchinson said.
The event will also include refreshments, door prize drawings and a 50-50 raffle to benefit the tribe, Hutchinson added.