Walker-Mallott Administration Establishes Tribal Advisory Council
October 18, 2015
“It was invaluable to hear directly from tribal leaders and village residents about their concerns and hopes,” Governor Walker said. “Tribes are struggling to hold on to their centuries-old way of life—on land where their ancestors have lived for thousands of years. They want to maintain and preserve that connection for their children and grandchildren. But the high cost of energy and lack of infrastructure in some cases are preventing them from thriving.”
Governor Walker said he hopes to form a partnership with GTAC to improve the lives of tribal members.
GTAC will be comprised of 11 council representatives, who represent Alaska’s federally recognized tribes’ interests in education, health care, subsistence, energy, public safety, justice, wildlife and fisheries, economic development, housing, language and culture, and transportation. The elected tribal leaders will be nominated by tribes and appointed by the governor.
“It is essential that the state’s highest office have direct communication with tribes to meet the unique needs of Alaska’s first people,” said Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott. “We are not a monolithic group, and I’m confident this formalized relationship will ensure the state and tribes can work together, government to government, to tackle the various issues facing Alaskans.”
During his trip to rural Alaska, Governor Walker learned the Chalkyitsik school is on the verge of closing, as it does not have the minimum of 10 students required for continued state funding. Village residents fear this will trigger out-migration.
“I have tasked members of my administration to look into ways to keep schools open, taking into consideration our limited funding, as they are often the heart of a community, especially in rural regions of the state,” Governor Walker said. “Ensuring a quality education for young people on land where they have ancestral roots maintains vital connection to their culture and traditional way of life.”
In the past decade, 20 schools around Alaska have closed because they did not have the required minimum student enrollment. There are currently 33 schools with 15 or fewer students.
A tribal member noted that Governor Walker is the first governor since Governor Jay Hammond to visit Chalkyitsik; another tribal member noted that Governor Walker is the first governor to ever visit Tuluksak.
Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
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