ONC Solicitation

To ONC tribal members, The Native Village of Bethel needs you, please seriously consider running for your tribal council. This is election year and 3 of 7 seats are up for consideration. To be eligible, you must be an ONC tribal member, 18 years or older and living in Bethel.

In my opinion, it would also help if individuals were not on the boards of organizations that could create a conflict of interest when making decisions that are in the best interests of our tribe. We need a unified, unconflicted council.

To be an effective tribal council member, it’s a matter of becoming knowledgeable on the basics of being a tribe. ONC can provide this information and training. Being aware of local, regional, statewide, national and even, international issues affecting and impacting Native People is important. Asking those hard questions is more critical now than ever before.

As the largest tribe in the state of Alaska, ONC has opportunities to develop cutting edge programs and services for our tribe. With a unified council, making informed decisions, the possibilities are limitless.

Oh, and the pay is pretty good too. $150 stipend for regular and special meetings and $75 for committee meetings. The stipend for representing the tribe at regional, statewide and national meetings is considerably higher. I especially encourage women to run for council. It is currently an all male council. We need some gender balance. If you are interested, you must file by March 21st. Quyana.

Gloria Simeon
Bethel, AK

A letter to the Dept. of the Interior

Deputy Secretary Connor,

Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) is a non-profit intertribal consortium of 39 federally recognized Tribes located in the Interior of Alaska charged with advancing sovereign tribal governments through the promotion of physical and mental wellness, education, socioeconomic development, and culture of the Interior Alaska Native People. We view the Secretarial Order (SO) 3342 announced by Secretary Jewell at the Annual Alaska Federation of Natives Conference in October of 2016 as a huge step forward in establishing partnerships between tribes and the US Government and extend our greatest appreciation for the work that her team accomplished.

Recently, the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN), requested a footnote to the Order that would define the term “Indian tribe” to include Alaska Native regional or village corporations. TCC strongly opposes AFN’s request to modify the SO without consulting with Alaska tribes first. Tanana Chiefs Conference asserts that the government-to-government relationship that is contemplated by the Secretary’s order is one that is meant to occur strictly between the federal agencies and Alaska’s tribes. While there is no denying the unique status of ANCSA corporations, having been created through an act of Congress to settle Alaska Native land rights, this does not including taking the place of tribes on tribal matters, unless the tribes specifically ask the corporation to do so.

As evidenced by the newly signed Ahtna Inter-tribal Resource Commission cooperative agreement, collaboration with ANCSA corporations is permissible and should be one of the options available to tribal governments. Self Determination allows a tribe to designate who will act on their behalf, but that right is sacred and should not be abridged. As the letter submitted to you from AFN suggests, the Bureau-specific authorities do permit that the Secretary may, in fact, enter into agreements with private parties. But to lump Alaska Native Corporations, for-profit businesses, into the actual definition of tribe, undermines the role of sovereign tribal governments.

The purpose of the SO 3342 is to encourage collaboration that will ultimately benefit tribes and Federal agencies. Certainly the inclusion of traditional and tribal knowledge will ensure a continued connection between tribes and Federal lands and waters, but that knowledge must come from the tribe, not the corporation. ANCSA corporations are mandated above all to seek a profit. Very often tribes and the respective ANCSA corporations of the region are aligned, but that is not always the case. Resource development can often be a controversial issue that is not easily resolved. To allow a corporation, without the approval of the tribes within its boundaries, to speak on behalf of tribal leaders, flies in the face of self-governance and could serve to further complicate an already divisive area. Historically there has been an intentional movement to subjugate tribes to the detriment of the wellness of the Alaska Native people. TCC has a unique non-profit committed to empowering tribes to fully implement self-determination tools as a means to overcome historical trauma and oppression. TCC and other Alaskan tribes have made great progress in this goal as demonstrated through the successes of the Alaska Native Health system.

This important Secretarial Order should reflect the sacred relationship with the United States and indigenous tribes, which is rooted in the Constitution. Tanana Chiefs Conference asks you to keep the secretarial order specific to federally recognized tribes and not expand the definition of tribes to include ANCSA corporations.


Tanana Chiefs Conference
Victor Joseph, President/Chief

Wrongful accusation

To be wrongfully accused of damaging a major building in the Bethel area and knowing that there was nothing on my part in this incident has angered me to the point of writing this small paper in my defense after all these months to find out that rumors were said to me today. That is one of the reasons (besides being a hard man) that I cannot find meaningful employment. I called a local lawyer who I trust very highly and was told they couldn’t help. This is my last resort to write this and say I am not at fault for this incident. Thank you.

Lloyd G. Nelson
Bethel, AK

Your Contributions Make Our Nation Stronger

At first, seeing taxes taken out of your paycheck can be a little disappointing. However, you can take pride in knowing that you are making an important impact each week when you contribute to Social Security. Understanding how important your contribution is takes some of the sting away because your taxes are helping millions of Americans — and protecting you and your family for life — as well as wounded warriors, the chronically ill, and the disabled.

By law, employers must withhold Social Security taxes from a worker’s paycheck. While usually referred to as “Social Security taxes” or “FICA” on an employee’s pay statement, “FICA” stands for Federal Insurance Contributions Act, a reference to the original Social Security Act. In some cases, you will see “OASDI” which stands for Old Age Survivors Disability Insurance.

The taxes you pay now translate into a lifetime of protection — for retirement in old age or in the event of a disability. In addition, when you die, your family (or future family) may be able to receive survivors benefits based on your work as well.

Because you may be a long way from retirement, you might have a tough time seeing the value of benefit payments that could be many decades in the future. However, keep in mind that the Social Security taxes you’re paying can provide valuable disability or survivors’ benefits now in the event the unexpected happens. Studies show that of today’s 20-year-olds, about one in four become disabled, and about one in eight will die, before reaching retirement.

Be warned: if an employer offers to pay you “under the table,” you should refuse. It is against the law. They may try to sell it as a benefit to you since you get a few extra dollars in your pay, but you’re really only allowing the employer to cheat you out of your Social Security credits.

If you’d like to learn a little more about Social Security and exactly what you’re building up for yourself by paying Social Security taxes, take a look at our online booklet, How You Earn Credits, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10072.html.

If you have a friend who lost a parent when they were a child, they probably got Social Security survivors benefits. Social Security helps by providing income for the families of workers who die. In fact, 98 of every 100 children could get benefits if a working parent dies. Social Security pays more benefits to children than any other federal program. You can learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov/survivors.

Do you prefer videos to reading? Check out webinar, “Social Security 101: What’s in it for me?” The webinar explains what you need to know about Social Security. You can find it at www.socialsecurity.gov/multimedia/webinars/social_security_101.html as well as on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hkLaBiavqQ

You can also learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov.

Robin Schmidt
Social Security Administration
Alaska Public Affairs Specialist