by Mike Williams Sr.
Dear Chairman Jim,
Akiak Native Community is a Federally Recognized Tribe, one of 56 Tribal Governments in our region. Some of the YKHC Board members are from our neighboring Tribes of the Bristol Bay and Tanana Chiefs Conference regions. We have all provided an authorizing resolution to YKHC to provide healthcare articles under Title V of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, 25 U.S.C. SS 5301-5423 when we started.
Lacking a Unified Government in our region, our Tribes have been involved in researching Regional Governance for over 40 years, including Borough formation, Confederated and Federated Constitutional Government, and Home rule. It was our Elders/Leaders who directed us to form such a Government under the 56 Tribes.
AVCP Convention passed a resolution that YKHC, Kuskokwim Native Association, The Kuskokwim Corporation, Yupiit Nation, Qasiq Traditional Council, all convene to draft a constitutional framework in which the Regional Committee was established.
Mr. Carl Jack and Nelson Angapak facilitated the process for a year. It was an all-inclusive process. After the completion of the work, AVCP held a special convention, in which they failed to have a quorum by 2 villages due to weather, so it was postponed.
Prior to that special convention, over 70 delegates convened in Anchorage, and 44 Tribal Governments voted to establish a constitutional government for the region; this option was selected over all other alternatives, including forming a Borough, strengthening AVCP, or doing nothing.
The Constitution was drafted to have a strong unified voice to address all of the issues that affect our communities throughout the region. The leadership will be elected by the enrolled citizens of Tribes in a general election. This will make it the most democratic way to elect the leadership. It will not usurp the sovereignty of the individual 56 tribal governments. Each Tribe has the option to submit a resolution to form a government. Tribal Sovereignty is non-negotiable. We have existed here in our region from time immemorial.
YKHC is a 501(c)(3) state-chartered corporation under the laws of State of Alaska. The Regional Tribal Government will not operate to pass resolutions but to enact laws. All of the decisions by the government will go through a democratic process. The Unified Regional Government will NOT take away tribal authority from our communities, it will strengthen them.
In a unified fashion, the Tribes in our region will take action to move forward, taking care to respect the sovereignty of each Tribe. Regrettably, the recent decision by the YKHC Executive Board, passed without consultation from our 56 Tribes, disrespects and disregards the sovereignty of our Tribes.
We are planning to hold a governance meeting of all of the 56 Tribal Governments at the end of the pandemic, later in 2021, to finalize the constitution and unite our region. Out of respect for our Elders and early Leaders, I hope that the YKHC Executive Board will rescind its January 22nd resolution and endorse this effort.
Michael Williams, Sr., Chief – Akiak Native Community