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Governor’s Tribal Advisory Council Announced


May 05, 2016
Thursday PM

(SitNews) Anchorage, Alaska - Governor Bill Walker and Lt. Governor Byron Mallott announced the newly appointed members of the Governor’s Tribal Advisory Council today. The 11 member advisory council met with Governor Walker and Lt. Governor Mallott at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium in Anchorage to set goals and priorities for the group going forward.

“Each of these individuals brings a unique skill set and experiences that will benefit the administration as we address issues important to Alaska’s tribes,” said Governor Walker. “I have tasked this group with providing input on relevant topics and helping our administration to find opportunities for the state and tribes to work collaboratively.”

jpg Governor’s Tribal Advisory Council Announced

Governor announces the 11 members appointed to the Governor's Tribal Advisory Council: Chester Ballot of Kotzebue; Gerry Hope of Sitka; Guy Adams of Kotzebue; Harry Brower of Barrow; Jody Juneby Potts, Han Gwich’in Athabaskan of Fairbanks; Melanie Bahnke of Nome; Melissa Borton of Kodiak; Richard Peterson of Kasaan; Ralph Anderson of Dillingham; Victor Joseph is a tribal member of Tanana; and Tiffany Jackson of Sand Point.
Photo courtesy Office of the Governor

The Governor’s Tribal Advisory Council (GTAC) consists of 11 members representing tribes’ interests in wildlife and fisheries, transportation, housing, subsistence, public safety, justice, language and culture, economic development, energy and natural resources, healthcare, and education. Members were nominated by their tribes and appointed by Governor Walker.

Governor Walker signed Administrative Order 227 on October 14, 2015, establishing GTAC and beginning the process by which tribal members could be nominated to the council.

“This council provides a forum for open, respectful, and informed dialogue on a full range of issues facing Alaska’s tribes, and recommended actions by both the tribes and the state,” said Lt. Governor Mallott. “It is critical that the Governor and Lt. Governor have direct communication with tribes to meet the unique needs of Alaska’s first people.”

The Rural Governance Commission congratulated Governor Bill Walker, Lt. Governor Byron Mallott and their administration for creating the Tribal Advisory Council. The council's mission is to "identify areas of concern and opportunity shared by the State and the Tribes and to suggest policy, programs and other means and methods for solutions and progress."

According to the Rural Governance Commission, the state working directly with tribes is an exciting step. The Rural Governance Commission recognizes the challenges that lie ahead and appreciates this positive action in overcoming past acrimony.

The Rural Governance Commission was established in 1998 by then-Governor Tony Knowles. It formulated a comprehensive set of recommendations to reform the state government's official policy toward federally recognized tribes in Alaska in order to improve and empower rural Alaska governance systems and ensure that local people receive the maximum benefit from them.

Fifteen years after the first report, a group of concerned and committed Alaskans concluded that "rural governance is unfinished business" in Alaska and came together in December, 2013 to revisit the original commission's work. The reconvened commission concluded that no significant progress had been made in the past fifteen years and, in its report, offered recommendations very similar to those that were made in the original report in 1999.

By creating the Tribal Advisory Council, the Walker-Mallott administration has shown that it takes the Rural Governance Commission's recommendations seriously. The Rural Governance Commission praised the administration's commitment to working with key representatives of the tribal community. The Rural Governance Commission is looking forward to working with the council to make all of the tools available for helping rural Alaska attain a new level of vibrancy. The diversity of the people in this state, including Alaska's first people, is what makes Alaska great, stated the the Rural Governance Commission is a news release.

The following individuals were appointed to the Governor’s Tribal Advisory Council:

Wildlife & Fisheries: Chester Ballot of Kotzebue is an Administrative Officer with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Selawik National Wildlife Refuge, and previously worked at Maniilaq Association for 18 years. Mr. Ballot is a member of the Native Village of Kotzebue, a shareholder of Kikkiktagruk Inupiat Corporation and NANA Regional Corporation, and a Vietnam veteran.

Transportation: Gerry Hope of Sitka is the Transportation Director for the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, where he oversees the Tribal Transportation Program and “the RIDE”, a public transit fixed-route system in Sitka. Additionally, Mr. Hope is the President of the National Tribal Transportation Association, Vice President of the Alaska Tribal Transportation Working Group, an active member of the National Tribal Transportation Unity Caucus, and a member of the Alaska Marine Transportation Advisory Board.

Housing: Guy Adams of Kotzebue is the Executive Director of the Northwest Inupiat Housing Authority. He has worked for the Housing Authority for over 18 years, working to provide housing opportunities in the Northwest Arctic Borough and NANA region.

Subsistence: Harry Brower of Barrow is the Subsistence Research Coordinator and Deputy Director of the North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management. In addition to his work with the Borough, Mr. Brower is the Chairman of the North Slope Subsistence Regional Advisory Council, Chairman of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, and a member of the Alaska Beluga Whale Committee. He is the author of multiple publications and presentations on subsistence harvesting in Alaska.

Public Safety: Jody Juneby Potts, Han Gwich’in Athabaskan is originally from Eagle Village. She is a Sergeant Village Public Safety Officer and VPSO Program Coordinator for Tanana Chiefs Conference in Fairbanks. She has served Rural Alaska as a VPSO for 6 years. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Northern Arizona University. Jody was a recipient of the Doyon Limited Youth Shareholder of the Year award in 1999 and is a former Miss National Congress of American Indians. She enjoys hunting and fishing with her 3 children.

Justice: Melanie Bahnke of Nome is the President/CEO of Kawerak, Inc. in Nome and is an enrolled tribal member of the Native Village of Savoonga. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Rural Development from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Melanie currently serves as a member of the Alaska Federation of Natives Board of Directors and is co-chair of the AFN Council for Advancement of Alaska Natives.

Language & Culture: Melissa Borton of Kodiak is the Tribal Administrator for the Native Village of Afognak. With over 20 years of experience working in her community for the betterment of the Alutiiq people, Melissa brings a unique and diverse perspective to the Governor’s Tribal Advisory Council. In addition to her work with the Native Village of Afognak, she is also a member of the Alaska Federation of Natives Subsistence Committee and the former Subsistence Representative to the Kodiak Regional Aquaculture Association.

Economic Development: Richard Peterson of Kasaan is currently serving his second term as the President of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (Central Council) where he is responsible for the administration of all tribal operations and represents over 30,000 tribal citizens. He also serves as President of the Tlingit Haida Tribal Business Corporation and is a former member of the Southeast Conference Board of Directors. Prior to being elected as president of the Central Council, Richard served as Chief Executive Officer of Prince of Wales Tribal Enterprise Consortium, LLC (POWTEC), President of the Organized Village of Kasaan (OVK), and Mayor/city council member for the City of Kasaan.

Energy & Natural Resources: Ralph Anderson of Dillingham is the President and CEO of Bristol Bay Native Association, where he is responsible for coordinating and directing all organizational activities under the supervisory control of the BBNA Board of Directors. Prior to his role as President, Mr. Anderson was the Natural Resources Program Manager and then Deputy Director of Lands and Resources for BBNA. He is the Chairman of the Western Alaska Salmon Coalition and Chairman of the Bristol Bay Partnership.

Healthcare: Victor Joseph is a tribal member of Tanana. He started his career in the health field as behavioral health provider in 1988. In 1990 he began working for Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) and over the years held many positions in the Health Service Department, including the Health Director position from 2007 to 2014. Mr. Joseph was elected TCC President by the 42 tribes in March 2014. Additionally, Mr. Joseph serves on the Board of Directors for the Alaska Federation of Natives and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and serves as an alternate on the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Board of Directors.

Education: Tiffany Jackson of Sand Point is the Executive Director of the Qagan Tayagungin Tribe and formally served as the tribe’s finance director. She has also previously worked for Aleutia as the Operations Manager and as the Telemedicine Coordinator for the Eastern Aleutian Tribes. Ms. Jackson is the current President of the Association of Alaska School Boards, is a member of the National School Boards Association Board of Directors, and has served as a member of the Aleutians East Borough School Board since 2007.


Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


Source of News:

Office of Governor Bill Walker

Rural Governance Commission visit


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