Providing current news on Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska's
government, administrative, and program activities.
- FEBRUARY 2017 -
TRIBAL UPDATE
News in this Edition...
  • Tribal Court Selected to Participate in Project to Improve Outcomes for Abused and Neglected Children
  • Representative Les Gara Follows Up On Comments Received During Native Issues Forum
  • Alaska Regional Coalition Meets with Legislators
  • Matica Technologies Features Tribe in Case Study on Tribal ID Printing
  • Tribal Court Roundtable Sessions Held
  • Tribe Meets with Canadian Consul General to Discuss Transboundary Concerns
  • Tribe Submits FY19 Tribal Budget Priorities to BIA and White House
  • TFYS Director Participates in Review of State OCS' Strategic Plan
  • Navigators Program
  • Juneau Homeless Connect Event
  • Next Native Issues Forum to Discuss Criminal Justice Reform
  • New Session Dates for Fatherhood is Sacred® Program
GOVERNMENT ACTIVITIES
Tribal Court Selected to Participate in Project to Improve Outcomes for Abused and Neglected Children
The Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (Central Council) has been selected as one of six new courts to be a part of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges’ (NCJFCJ) Implementation Sites Project to improve outcomes for abused and neglected children and their families.

The project is funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to provide child abuse and neglect courts with training, technical assistance, and support to guide program improvement, sustainability, and performance.

Central Council’s Tribal Court has greatly expanded its judicial services since it was established ten years ago. Currently, the Tribal Court has subject matter jurisdiction over a large range of civil and criminal issues including adoptions, child custody, child support, child welfare, divorce, domestic violence protection orders, guardianship, marriage, and paternity.

“Building the infrastructure and capacity of our Tribal Court and ICWA team to keep our children safe, out of the State’s custody, and placed with Native families has been one of my top priorities,” said President Richard Peterson. “This project will help the Tribe move in the right direction of transferring more child welfare cases from the Alaska Court System to our Tribal Court.”

To read the full press release, click here.
Representative Les Gara Follows Up On Comments Received During Native Issues Forum
During the Native Issues Forum held on February 16th, Mique’l Dangeli, PhD Assistant Professor of Alaska Native Studies at the University of Alaska Southeast, provided public comment to Representatives Les Gara and Geran Tarr and referenced several studies that have shown how indigenous language revitalization efforts have been very effective at reducing the suicide rate (and other negative outcomes). Many of us have experienced or witnessed just how powerful reconnecting Alaska Native people with their languages has on the health and wellbeing of our villages and people. Drawing from her own person experience of loss from suicide, Dangeli asked the lawmakers to look to these language studies when addressing the issue of suicide among Alaska Native youth.

Since the State of Alaska formally recognized indigenous languages as the state’s official languages in 2014, President Peterson closed the forum by reminding lawmakers of their responsibility to take more than symbolic steps toward preserving Alaska’s Native languages and proposing the State require every Alaskan student to take a semester of indigenous language. “When we don’t know our language, we don’t know who we are,” said President Peterson.

After listening to the possible public health benefits of teaching Alaska Native languages, Representative Gara took the initiative to request copies of the studies cited by Dr. Dangeli and also requested a meeting with Department of Education Commissioner Michael Johnson, Representative Tarr, and community members (language warriors) to discuss the current state of indigenous language instruction in Alaskan schools and learn specifically: 
  1. What efforts have been made, or are planned, to promote Alaska Native languages at the K-12 school level in Alaska?
  2. How many schools are currently offering regional Alaska Native language courses?
  3. What can the Department do to expand the teaching of indigenous languages?
Alaska Regional Coalition Meets with Legislators
The Alaska Regional Coalition (ARC) met with key Alaska State legislators and commissioners February 8-9, 2017 to discuss the coalition’s legislative and budget priorities. Central Council has been a member of the ARC since it was formed three years ago. Other members of the coalition include four regional non-profits: Chugachmiut, Kawerak Inc., Maniilaq Association, and Tanana Chiefs Conference. The consortium was established to advocate on State legislative issues impacting Alaska tribes and non-profits, promote greater State recognition of Alaska tribes, and establish partnerships to advance state-tribal relations.

Legislative Priorities:
Budget Priorities:

There are many Alaska tribes and Native non-profits that provide services through contracts and grants with the State of Alaska. ARC is seeking to preserve state funding levels and contracts with the following State departments:
  • Behavioral Health
  • Department of Administration
  • Department of Education & Early Development
  • Department Health & Social Services
  • Department of Public Safety
  • Public Assistance
  • Public Health
Other Issues:
  • Criminal Justice Reform – ARC strongly advocates for the ability for tribal courts to provide culturally appropriate and alternative sentencing for low-level crimes. The coalition also supports expanding capacity in recidivism and tribal court efforts.
Matica Technologies Features Tribe in Case Study on Tribal ID Printing
Central Council was recently featured as a case study for Matica Technologies. The Tribe purchased two Matica XID8600 retransfer printers in 2016 to increase the security of Central Council’s Tribal ID cards which are issued to tribal citizens to authenticate tribal citizenship.

In the last year, Central Council has successfully integrated the new printing system with custom holograms and 600 dpi high resolution printing for increased security.

To read the full case study, click here.

Tribal Court Roundtable Sessions Held
Central Council recently hosted Tribal Court Roundtable sessions with 12 Southeast tribes in Craig and Juneau, Alaska. The sessions, which were funded in part by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), were coordinated to assess the status and needs of the region's tribal courts and initiate discussions with local tribal government representatives on how to expand tribal courts in Southeast Alaska. President Peterson, Tribal Judges, and Judiciary Committee members all participated in the roundtable sessions. 

In 2016, the BIA Office of Tribal Justice allocated $10 million for tribal courts in Public Law 280 states, including Alaska. It’s anticipated the BIA will provide further funding to support the development of Alaska’s tribal courts. Increasing tribal court support to address the public safety needs of rural Alaska is a top priority of President Peterson. 

Through a BIA Office of Justice funded project to develop a regional intertribal appellate court, Central Council’s Tribal Court will continue to work closely with Southeast Alaska tribes and offer technical support to those tribes interested in developing the infrastructure and capacity for a tribal court.

Tribal courts not only improve community safety in rural Alaska, it’s the sovereign right of tribes to exercise jurisdiction over their tribal citizens. All community members will benefit from better mechanisms to address rural public safety. As President Peterson said during the roundtable sessions, "healthy tribes make healthy communities."

As a follow up to the roundtable discussions, a training session on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and how tribal courts can better protect women and children in rural communities, will be coordinated soon - dates and locations to be announced.
Tribe Meets with Canadian Consul General to Discuss Transboundary Concerns
On January 19, 2017, a meeting took place between tribal leaders and the Canadian Consul General to discuss tribal concerns related to transboundary mining development. The Canadian Consul is based in Seattle, Washington and is responsible for intergovernmental affairs for the northwest states and Alaska. The Canadian Consul was invited by Second Vice President Will Micklin to meet with Central Council and Douglas Indian Association in Juneau, Alaska. They also met with other tribal leaders in Ketchikan on January 20th. 

Tribal leaders advocated for the protection of tribal interests by pushing full tribal consultation and encouraging the use of best practices and collaboration on baseline environmental data collection. Some of the issues brought up in the Juneau meeting included shortcomings of the British Columbia (BC) government when it comes to permit enforcement and financial assurances, such as the 2014 Mt. Polley Mine tailings disaster and the ongoing acid mine drainage from the Tulsequah Chief Mine in the Taku watershed. There was also discussion about creating a mechanism for agreement between State/Provincial, Federal, and Tribal/First Nation governments.

Alaska’s Lt. Governor Byron Mallott also attended the meeting and discussed the Statement of Cooperation (SOC) between Alaska and BC. Canadian officials believe the SOC was a huge milestone and provides a more pragmatic structure to address transboundary concerns than federal intervention. President Peterson stated that the SOC, while a good starting point, is not the final answer. Central Council continues to advocate for a tribal seat at the table to ensure that our way of life is protected. 
Tribe Submits FY19 Tribal Budget Priorities to BIA and White House
Government Affairs Liaison Grace Singh recently traveled to Washington DC to meet with the White House Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Department of Interior. The DC visit provided an opportunity to submit Central Council’s top five budget priorities which were developed earlier in response to the BIA - Alaska Region's invitation to be a part of the Fiscal Year 2019 Tribal Budget Formulation process.

Budget Priorities
  • Indian Child Welfare: It is of the utmost importance to Central Council that every child has a safe home to grow, prosper, and become contributing citizens to our communities. Tribal governments cannot protect the needs of our children with the funding available for child welfare. Tribes receive only $29 thousand for positions that are often required to be full time, requiring tribes to allocate dollars to compensate for the program.
  • Office of Tribal Justice: Public safety in Rural Alaska has some of the most dangerous circumstances in the Nation. P.L. 280 tribes are not included in the tribal court funding from BIA’s Office of Tribal Justice. Last year, Congress appropriated $10 million to the BIA to increase tribal justice support to P.L. 280 states. The one-time funding does not provide Alaska tribes with the stability to address the serious issues of rural public safety.
  • Higher Education Funding: Central Council is required to fundraise and allocate tribal funds to provide scholarships to its tribal citizens. As the largest tribe in Alaska, we have more than 30,000 tribal citizens and many descendants that apply for higher education assistance. To hold up our people, we must provide every educational opportunity for the youth to develop their skills to contribute to our communities and local economies.
  • Welfare Assistance and 477: Tribal governments address the needs of rural impoverished communities throughout Alaska and the Nation. Welfare and Employment/Training programs are essential to elevating people out of poverty, growing contributing members of society, and providing families with healthy stable livelihoods. 
PROGRAM ACTIVITIES
TFYS Director Participates in Review of State OCS' Strategic Plan
Tribal Family & Youth Services (TFYS) Director Francine Eddy Jones, along with key tribal child welfare directors representing the five regions of Alaska, joined an executive team from the State of Alaska’s Office of Children Services (OCS), representatives from Casey Family Programs, and First Alaskans Institute staff on January 24-25, 2017 in Anchorage, Alaska to review the State’s 2016-2020 strategic plan, titled “Transforming Child Welfare Outcomes for Alaska Native Children.” The priorities of Governor Walker’s Administration seek to improve the health and safety outcomes of Alaskans, and Alaska Department of Health & Social Services Commissioner Valerie Davidson quickly identified child welfare as one of the top priorities of the Department.

With this strategic plan, members of the planning group are excited and hopeful about the future of Alaska’s child welfare system. The plan reflects a paradigm shift in the approach to child welfare as it relates to Alaska Native children, based on the understanding that “Tribes know what is best for their children and have for centuries.” This philosophy will be evident throughout the objectives and action items of the plan, and will respect the inherent authority and sovereignty of tribal governments for the welfare of Alaska Native children.

Strategic Priorities & Goals
  • Respectful Government-to-Government Collaboration & Partnership. Achieve formal, friendly, and forever recognition of Tribes by the State.
  • Self-Governance. Tribes self-govern the welfare of their children and have the resources to do so.
  • Embrace & Implement the Spirit of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Embrace the spirit and values of ICWA to ensure Alaska Native children are with their families and community.
  • State Government Alignment. Ensure state government systems are aligned and services are provided based on the values and spirit of ICWA.
  • Community Engagement. Alaska’s child welfare system operates as a partnership among the community, Tribes, State, and Federal governments to keep Alaska Native children with their family and culture.
  • Continuum of Culturally Specific Services. Provide a continuum of culturally specific supports that ensure the safety, permanency, and wellbeing of Alaska Native children.
Under the Self Governance priority, tribal entities made a goal to raise a total of $50,000 which is needed to begin the negotiation process for OCS to Compact Child Welfare Services with tribes.

To read the full 2016-2020 Strategic Plan, click here.
Navigators Program
The Healing to Wellness program, now known as  Navigators, has launched with printed materials distributed in Juneau schools. Navigators currently has six youth applicants, two of which have already begun receiving services, including paid on-the-job training and academic tutoring. The program’s primary focus is on youth that are dropping out or not excelling in school, and those that are in out of home, non-relative placement. Case plans are being developed and we continue to secure tutors and mentors to help our youth achieve their goals. Navigators’ case management uses a team approach including family members with internal and external partners. Collaboration and community support is vital to the success of the program.

For more information on the Navigators program, contact Tina DeAsis-Wright at 907.463.7755 or tdeasiswright@ccthita-nsn.gov.

Juneau Homeless Connect Event
Several staff from Central Council participated in the Juneau Homeless Connect event held on January 25th. The event was a great opportunity for Central Council to share information on its programs and services and network with other community resources. Over 100 sleeping bags, along with wool blankets, gloves, hats, hand warmers, and socks, were distributed to our local homeless community. Approximately 170 attendees stopped by Central Council's  table to receive information and applications.

Central Council is a proud member of the Juneau Homeless Coalition, a partnership of local agencies and non-governmental organizations who serve Juneau's most vulnerable residents – the homeless and those most affected by limited and high cost housing.

Gunalchéesh, Háw’aa to the following departments and programs for representing Central Council at the Juneau Homeless Connect event:

  • Employment & Training
  • Navigators Program
  • Second Chance Re-entry
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
  • Tribal Child Support Unit
  • Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation
UPCOMING EVENTS
Next Native Issues Forum to Discuss Criminal Justice Reform
Date: March 2, 2017
Time: Noon - 1:00 PM
Location:  Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall (320 West Willoughby Avenue - Juneau, AK)

Don’t miss Central Council’s next Native Issues Forum! Criminal justice reform will be discussed with guest speakers Senator John Coghill (SB91 Sponsor) and Central Council Public Safety Manager Jason Wilson. The forums are a great opportunity to hear reports on a wide range of topics important to our Native community. If you’re unable to attend in person, all forums are webcast live at www.livestream.com/accounts/507620. We hope you can join us in person or by webcast!

For more information, please contact Grace Singh at 907.463.7103 or gsingh@ccthita-nsn.gov.
New Session Dates for  Fatherhood is Sacred Program®
Dates:  Tuesday Evenings (Feb. 21 - May 23)
Time:  5:30 - 7:30 PM
Location: TANF and Child Care Office (3075 Vintage Boulevard, Suite 200 - Juneau, AK)

The Fatherhood is Sacred® program invites all fathers to participate in their current 12-week session that began on February 21, 2017. The program brings fathers (married, widowed, single, or divorced) together to participate in fun activities that focus on the sacredness of being a father, and the importance of Alaska Native/Native American heritage and how it applies to each father in the past, present, and future. 

Dinner and child care are provided. For more information or to register, please contact Ian Petershoare at ipetershoare@ccthita-nsn.gov or 907.463.7737.
  Our Mission
“Preserving our sovereignty, enhancing our economic and cultural resources, and promoting self-sufficiency and self-governance for our citizens through collaboration, service, and advocacy.”