Supporters of tribal relations initiative turn in signatures

ANCHORAGE (AP) — Supporters of a proposed initiative that seeks to formalize government-to-government relationships between the state and federally recognized tribes in Alaska have submitted signatures aimed at getting the measure on this year’s ballot.

The campaign behind the measure needed to gather 36,140 signatures from across the state. It submitted 56,200 signatures to the state Division of Elections last month, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

The division must review and verify the signatures, and the campaign will be notified within 60 days of submitting the signatures if everything is in order to get the measure on this year’s ballot.

Under state law, the timing of when the Legislature adjourns affects which ballot initiatives appear on — either the August primary or the November general election ballot.

Barbara ’Wáahlaal Gidáak Blake, a cosponsor of the Alaskans for Better Government campaign, called the support for the effort so far “amazing.”

Supporters of the measure say formalizing Alaska’s recognition of tribal sovereignty will allow for more efficient, effective implementation of measures that benefit tribal members at the local level without substantially altering state laws.

“What this does is codify what’s already recognized by the federal government,” said state Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky, of Bethel.

Zulkosky has legislation with language nearly identical to the proposed initiative. The measure passed the House 35-4 last May but has not been taken up by the Senate.

Organizers of the initiative campaign are largely agnostic about whether the Legislature acts or the measure goes to a vote of the people.

The Alaska Federation of Natives, Sealaska Corp. and Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska are among the backers of the proposal.


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