Legislature(2019 - 2020)CAPITOL 106

02/13/2020 08:00 AM TRIBAL AFFAIRS

Note: the audio and video recordings are distinct records and are obtained from different sources. As such there may be key differences between the two. The audio recordings are captured by our records offices as the official record of the meeting and will have more accurate timestamps. Use the icons to switch between them.

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as
Download Video part 1. <- Right click and save file as

Audio Topic
08:04:10 AM Start
08:04:52 AM HB221
09:42:36 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
-- Public & Invited Testimony --
               HB 221-STATE RECOGNITION OF TRIBES                                                                           
8:04:52 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR ZULKOSKY  announced that the  only order of  business would                                                               
be HOUSE  BILL NO. 221,  "An Act providing for  state recognition                                                               
of federally  recognized tribes;  and providing for  an effective                                                               
8:05:26 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP,  as prime sponsor, introduced  HB 221, which                                                               
would  provide  for  state recognition  of  federally  recognized                                                               
tribes in Alaska.                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP  imparted to  the committee that  the impetus                                                               
to pursue HB 221  came from his father, who had  been raised on a                                                               
mission  field  in China  and  had  survived the  [Second]  Sino-                                                               
Japanese War [1937-1945], when Japan  invaded China.  He said his                                                               
father experienced  what it  was like  to see  the hearts  of the                                                               
local people be  broken when their children were  brought back to                                                               
them a  year later, how  much the  children had changed  in their                                                               
thinking  and in  their values.   Representative  Kopp related  a                                                               
story his  father told in  which, during the time  their children                                                               
were away,  the parents would  save extra  rice so that  upon the                                                               
return of  their children they  could have a celebration.   Then,                                                               
when  the kids  did come  home, they  reported their  parents for                                                               
having the  extra rice  because it was  against the  rules, which                                                               
broke the hearts of the Chinese people.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  KOPP told  the  committee that  at  the time  his                                                               
father told him this story  they were living in Newhalen, Alaska,                                                               
on Lake Iliamna,  and that his father was  the only schoolteacher                                                               
in the village.  His father pointed  to this time in China as the                                                               
one time that  a people had no control of  the education of their                                                               
own youth, as  well as no ability  to exercise self-determination                                                               
in education.   According to Representative Kopp,  his father saw                                                               
the wound  in those spirits and  worked hard as a  "lone voice in                                                               
the  wilderness"  to  obtain  more  self-determination  and  more                                                               
control [for]  the local  people and for  the education  of their                                                               
youth.   He added that, growing  up in rural Alaska,  most of the                                                               
mentors in  his life  were adult, Native  men, and  that [through                                                               
their  eyes] he  began to  see  how Alaska  is interdependent  in                                                               
every way; that every relationship is not an island unto itself.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP  wrapped up  his introduction by  letting the                                                               
committee know that  HB 221 is a way of  honoring and recognizing                                                               
Alaska people who  have been in Alaska since time  immemorial;  a                                                               
step  to   reestablish  healing  and  brokenness   in  the  trust                                                               
relationship with  the first people  [in the United  States], and                                                               
to give honor  and respect for the same reason  it would be given                                                               
to  any self-determined  people.   He  then  referenced The  U.S.                                                               
Declaration of Independence:   "We hold these truths  to be self-                                                               
evident, that  all men are  created equal, that they  are endowed                                                               
by  their Creator  with certain  unalienable  Rights, that  among                                                               
these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."                                                                          
8:09:55 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP put  forth that HB 221 is an  attempt to help                                                               
live  up to  the ideal  [put forth  by our  forefathers]:   first                                                               
Alaskans  should not  be  invisible in  the  narrative of  Alaska                                                               
history, but  should be respected  first and foremost as  a proud                                                               
people.   He  added  that HB  221 would  cause  the committee  to                                                               
discuss concepts  such as sovereignty and  what it means:   it is                                                               
incorrect to  pretend tribes  do not  exist and  yet ask  them to                                                               
waive their sovereignty.   He imparted that  worldwide only eight                                                               
countries have  a larger land  mass than  Alaska, and that  it is                                                               
inconceivable  that  Alaska  can  solve  its  health  and  social                                                               
services  issues, its  public safety  issues,  and its  education                                                               
issues  unless   they  are  handled  through   collaboration  and                                                               
interdependence with the Alaska people:   HB 221 is a step toward                                                               
acknowledging that.                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  KOPP   added  that   change  is  hard   work  and                                                               
encompasses both emotional and spiritual  healing, and that it is                                                               
his  belief  that  it  is time  to  acknowledge  Alaska's  tribal                                                               
citizens and "open the door to healing" and restoration.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  KOPP  pointed members  of  the  committee to  the                                                               
following  supporting materials  for HB  221:   President Richard                                                               
Nixon's Special  Message on  Indian Affairs  [July 8,  1970], the                                                             
1999  Alaska  Supreme Court  Case  Baker  v. John,  and  Attorney                                                               
General Jahna Lindemuth's  letter to Governor Bill  Walker on the                                                               
legal  status of  tribes in  Alaska.   He  referred to  President                                                               
Nixon's  address,  which he  described  as  a seminal  moment  in                                                               
American history,  when the U.S.  moved from the  termination era                                                               
for government  tribal relations to self-determination.   He drew                                                               
attention to an excerpt of the address, which read as follows:                                                                  
     The story  of the Indian  in America is  something more                                                                    
     than  the record  of white  man's frequent  aggression,                                                                    
     broken agreements, intermittent  remorse, and prolonged                                                                    
     failure.    This  record  is   also  one  of  survival,                                                                    
     endurance, adaptation,  and creativity  in the  face of                                                                    
     overwhelming  obstacles.   It is  a record  of enormous                                                                    
     contributions to this country,  to its art and culture,                                                                    
     to its  strength and  spirit, to  its sense  of history                                                                    
     and its sense of purpose.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP, as  someone who worked in  public safety and                                                               
as someone who  comes from a military background,  wrapped up his                                                               
presentation of  HB 221  by informing  the committee  that Alaska                                                               
Natives  have the  highest demographic  rate of  service [in  the                                                               
U.S.];  more than  two and  a half  times higher  than any  other                                                               
demographic group in Alaska.                                                                                                    
8:13:46 AM                                                                                                                    
KEN   TRUITT,   Staff,    Representative   Kopp,   Alaska   State                                                               
Legislature, said  the Baker  v. John  Alaska Supreme  Court case                                                               
helped signal  the moment  the Alaska courts  stopped the  era of                                                               
termination and  acknowledged tribes and  self-determination, and                                                               
Mr.  Lindemuth's  letter  signified  when  the  executive  branch                                                               
acknowledged  the  legal status  that  the  Alaska Supreme  Court                                                               
defined for  Alaskans.  Mr.  Truitt added  that HB 221  serves to                                                               
underscore the role  of the Alaska State Legislature  itself:  in                                                               
its  declaration  of  the  end  of the  termination  era  as  the                                                               
official  state   policy,  Alaska  will  no   longer  ignore  the                                                               
existence of tribes.                                                                                                            
MR. TRUITT  pointed committee members to  the operative provision                                                               
of HB  221:  first, it  is recognized that [state  recognition of                                                               
tribes]  is  a  federal  question.     The  words  "special"  and                                                               
"unique", also used by the Supreme  Court as well as by President                                                               
Nixon [in his  address], were chosen to  indicate the legislature                                                               
understands the special, unique nature  of the relationship.  The                                                               
second  sentence  incorporates  the federally  recognized  Tribal                                                               
List Act  and where  the Act  resides in U.S.  code.   Mr. Truitt                                                               
explained that the bill does  not create a state-only recognition                                                               
process,  but that  it  acknowledges and  defers  to the  federal                                                               
government  for the  recognition  of tribal  status.   The  third                                                               
sentence signifies that  the State of Alaska is not  to touch the                                                               
Federal  Trust Relationship  between the  federal government  and                                                               
tribes, "even with a ten-foot pole."                                                                                            
8:21:00 AM                                                                                                                    
The committee took a brief at-ease from 8:21 a.m. to 8:22 a.m.                                                                  
8:22:06 AM                                                                                                                    
JOY ANDERSON,  Association of Village Council  Presidents (AVCP),                                                               
introduced herself and  let the committee know that  she would be                                                               
giving a PowerPoint presentation with Natasha Singh.                                                                            
NATASHA  SINGH,   Tanana  Chiefs  Conference  (TCC),   began  the                                                               
presentation by bringing the committee's  attention to the second                                                               
slide  [of 18],  which  stated "Native  peoples  and Tribes  have                                                               
existed  in  the  Americas  from  time  immemorial."    She  then                                                               
referenced the following  quotation from Baker v.  John:  "Before                                                               
the  coming  of the  Europeans,  the  tribes were  self-governing                                                               
sovereign political communities."                                                                                               
MS. SINGH  pointed out to the  committee that the existence  of a                                                               
tribe or  tribal government does  not require a federal  or state                                                               
determination,  and that  tribal sovereignty  does not  originate                                                               
with the  federal or state government.   She went on  to say that                                                               
before  the U.S.  and before  Alaska there  were tribes,  and the                                                               
tribal form of government is  something not easily comprehensible                                                               
to most people, especially to  non-Native speakers, as notions of                                                               
government and  economy are fully  embedded in  Native languages.                                                               
Tribal governments were based on a  rule of law determined by the                                                               
Creator,  the land,  and  the animals,  Ms.  Singh imparted,  and                                                               
tribal leaders  created tribal governance in  reflection of these                                                               
MS. SINGH stated  that present-day tribes have  remnants of these                                                               
traditional  governments  despite  hundreds  of  years  aimed  at                                                               
extinguishing  tribes.   Chief Nancy  James of  Gwichyaa Zhee  in                                                               
Fort  Yukon, Alaska,  described  it  in this  way  to Ms.  Singh:                                                               
Tribal  leaders  are tasked  with  protecting  the land  and  the                                                               
8:25:17 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  ANDERSON  showed the  committee  the  slide "Federal  Indian                                                               
Policy Periods" [slide  5] in which the  "pathway" to recognition                                                               
of tribes  by the U.S.  is broken  down.  A  federally recognized                                                               
tribe is an  American Indian or Alaska Native  tribal entity that                                                               
has a  recognized government-to-government relationship  with the                                                               
U.S., Ms. Anderson  explained.  She added  that this relationship                                                               
is described as a "domestic dependent nation."                                                                                  
MS. ANDERSON  related that as  governments, tribes  have inherent                                                               
power  and authority  as  well as  the  right to  self-government                                                               
Self-government, Ms.  Anderson explained,  is a  tribe's decision                                                               
of  what form  of government  they will  have as  well as  who is                                                               
eligible to be  a tribal citizen or member.   Tribes exercise all                                                               
of their inherent  power, Ms. Anderson said,  unless those powers                                                               
have  been expressly  limited by  Congress.   Tribes have  always                                                               
existed, so they  have always had these powers, she  related.  As                                                               
part of  self-government, tribes  regulate matters  pertaining to                                                               
tribal  members,  which  are exemplified  in  taxation,  property                                                               
regulation,  and members'  conduct, such  as domestic  relations.                                                               
Tribes are  immune from  lawsuit.   Not states,  not part  of the                                                               
federal government,  not non-profits:   tribes are  distinct, Ms.                                                               
Anderson put forth.                                                                                                             
8:27:44 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  SINGH referenced  policy periods,  the  distinct periods  in                                                               
which the  U.S. government  dealt with  tribal governments.   She                                                               
read all  of the periods to  the committee:  the  colonial period                                                               
from  1492-1820;  the  removal/relocation period,  including  the                                                               
Trail  of  Tears,  from 1820-1850;  the  reservation  and  treaty                                                               
making period, from 1850-1887; the  allotment & assimilation era,                                                               
from  1887-1934;  Indian  self-government,  from  1934-1953;  the                                                               
termination era,  from 1953-1960; and  tribal self-determination,                                                               
from 1960-present.   Tribal self-determination, she  imparted, is                                                               
the only  policy that has been  successful in the history  of the                                                               
relationship between tribes and the  U.S.  She related that self-                                                               
determination has been the policy since the Indian Self-                                                                        
Determination and Education Assistance  Act (ISDEAA) of 1975, and                                                               
it has been successful since.                                                                                                   
8:30:05 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.   ANDERSON   turned   the  committee's   attention   to   the                                                               
removal/relocation period  [again slide 5].   From the beginning,                                                               
she imparted,  tribes were recognized as  being distinct entities                                                               
with power  and authority of individual  government, subject even                                                               
as  they  were  to  U.S.   authority.    Being  subject  to  U.S.                                                               
authority,   she  continued,   was  what   resulted  in   lasting                                                               
oppression.   In  1831,  a  few decades  before  Alaska become  a                                                               
territory, Ms.  Anderson informed  the committee, and  only about                                                               
50 years  after the  U.S. came into  existence, the  U.S. Supreme                                                               
Court under Chief Justice [John]  Marshall determined that Indian                                                               
tribes  were what  Marshall referred  to as  distinct independent                                                               
political communities under the control  of the U.S., or domestic                                                               
dependent nations.                                                                                                              
MS.  ANDERSON directed  the committee  to the  next slide,  which                                                               
read as follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                
     ...a weaker  power does not surrender  its independence                                                                    
     - its right to self-government  - by associating with a                                                                    
     stronger, and taking its protection.   A weak state, in                                                                    
     order  to  provide for  its  safety,  may place  itself                                                                    
     under  the protection  of  one  more powerful,  without                                                                    
     stripping  itself  of  the  right  of  government,  and                                                                    
     ceasing to be a state.                                                                                                     
MS. ANDERSON informed the committee  that the preceding quotation                                                               
was  taken from  what is  known  as the  Marshall Trilogy,  three                                                               
cases that form the basis of  Federal Indian law in the U.S., and                                                               
through   which   the   following  principles   were   conceived:                                                               
aboriginal  land  claims,  tribal authority,  and  Federal  Trust                                                               
Responsibility.   The  cases  are Johnson  v.  M'Intosh in  1823,                                                               
Cherokee Nation v.  Georgia in 1831, and Worcester  v. Georgia in                                                               
1832.   Ms. Anderson  offered an  explanation of  each principle.                                                               
Aboriginal  land  claims  refer   to  the  rights  of  aboriginal                                                               
peoples' right  to retain  use and occupancy  of land,  that only                                                               
the U.S. government  can settle aboriginal land  claims, and that                                                               
the U.S. has a legal duty  to protect aboriginal title until land                                                               
claims are officially settled.                                                                                                  
MS.  ANDERSON   also  explained  tribal  authority,   the  second                                                               
principle  in the  basis of  Federal Indian  Law in  the U.S.  as                                                               
broken down  by the  Marshall trilogy:   tribes are  nations with                                                               
the  authority  to govern  themselves,  and  the source  of  that                                                               
authority is inherent,  meaning it comes from  tribes being self-                                                               
governing  long  before  settlers   and  explorers  came  to  the                                                               
Americas.    Third,  she  explained   that  under  Federal  Trust                                                               
Responsibility, the  federal government  has a  responsibility to                                                               
protect  Indian lands  and resources,  and  to provide  essential                                                               
services to  Indian people.   This comes  from the fact  that the                                                               
federal government took  away the vast majority  of Indian lands,                                                               
Ms. Anderson  imparted, and in  return promised to  provide these                                                               
8:33:07 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. ANDERSON then  referenced The Alaska Purchase,  also known as                                                               
the  Treaty of  Cession:   in  1867, Russia  sold  its claims  to                                                               
Alaska to the  U.S.  She went on to  paraphrase the treaty, which                                                               
stated  that  Native people  were  uncivilized,  so the  colonial                                                               
government had the power to civilize  them with laws.  Because of                                                               
the wording  in the treaty,  tribes in  the U.S. fell  under U.S.                                                               
authority.     From  the  very   beginning  of   Alaska  entering                                                               
statehood,  Ms. Anderson  pointed  out, there  was the  awareness                                                               
that tribes existed in Alaska.                                                                                                  
8:34:12 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. SINGH related that the basis  of Federal Indian Law is in the                                                               
U.S. Constitution, [Article 1],  which states that Congress shall                                                               
have the  power to "regulate  commerce with foreign  nations, and                                                               
among the several states, and  with the Indian tribes" [slide 9].                                                               
This  article of  the Constitution  lays  out Congress's  plenary                                                               
power:   Congress has the final  word when it comes  to tribes in                                                               
the U.S.   The Alaska  Native Claims Settlement Act  [signed into                                                               
law in 1971], Ms. Singh related,  is an example of Congress using                                                               
its plenary power.  The  law extinguished Alaska Native rights to                                                               
over  360,000,000  acres  of land  including  [Native  Alaskans']                                                               
hunting and fishing rights to those lands.                                                                                      
MS. SINGH  spoke of the  passing of  the ISDEEA by  Congress, the                                                               
first major  piece of legislation in  the self-determination era.                                                               
Self-determination  policy  has  worked,  she  related,  to  make                                                               
significant  progress in  reversing otherwise  distressed social,                                                               
cultural,  and economic  conditions  in  Native communities,  and                                                               
reflects a political equilibrium which  has held for four decades                                                               
and which  has withstood various  shifts in the party  control of                                                               
Congress and the White House.                                                                                                   
8:36:36 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. ANDERSON informed  the committee that an example  of the U.S.                                                               
recognition of  the government-to-government relationship  it has                                                               
with federally  recognized tribes is called  tribal consultation.                                                               
"Consultation  and Coordination  with Indian  Tribal Governments"                                                               
is  the title  of  Executive  Order 13175,  which  was issued  by                                                               
President Bill Clinton  on November 6, 2000 [slides  11-12].  Ms.                                                               
Anderson added that  on November 5, 2009,  President Barack Obama                                                               
issued  a memorandum  directing each  agency to  give a  detailed                                                               
plan of  action of how they  would implement the policies  of the                                                               
executive  order,  which   would  establish  regular,  meaningful                                                               
concentration and  collaboration with  tribes in  the development                                                               
of federal policies that have tribal implications.                                                                              
MS. ANDERSON added  that Executive Order 13175  also recognized a                                                               
trust  relationship  with  Indian  tribes, the  right  of  Indian                                                               
tribes   to   self-government,   tribal  authority,   and   self-                                                               
determination,  and  all  federal  agencies' respect  of  all  of                                                               
8:38:15 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  SINGH brought  members' attention  to Alaska  Administrative                                                               
Order 125 from  Governor [Walter J.] Hickel in 1991,  in which he                                                               
declared  "The  State  of  Alaska  opposes  expansion  of  tribal                                                               
governmental  powers  and the  creation  of  'Indian Country'  in                                                               
Alaska"  [slide  14].   The  history  between Alaska  and  tribes                                                               
"hasn't been  great," Ms. Singh  put forth, adding  that defining                                                               
what the new relationship between  the state and tribes will look                                                               
like has been harder than winning [recognition] in the courts.                                                                  
8:41:41 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. ANDERSON let  the committee know that the  U.S. Department of                                                               
the  Interior  (DOI) responded  "rather  quickly"  to the  Alaska                                                               
Supreme  Court's   position  by  issuing  a   list  of  federally                                                               
recognized tribes  in Alaska via the  Federally Recognized Indian                                                               
Tribe List  Act [1994],  which Congress  confirmed, and  which is                                                               
still published annually [slide 15].   She let the committee know                                                               
that  Congress even  overrode the  omission of  one tribe  in the                                                               
original  Act, hence  confirming  the DOI's  opinion that  tribes                                                               
existed in Alaska.                                                                                                              
8:42:47 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  ANDERSON  let  the  committee  know  that  initially  Alaska                                                               
challenged  [the  DOI's opinion],  but  in  1996, litigation  was                                                               
discontinued.  The  state attorney general [in  1996] also issued                                                               
an  opinion  that outlined  the  status  of federally  recognized                                                               
tribes.  This issuance contained  some inaccuracies; for example,                                                               
that  state  courts  could not  transfer  jurisdiction  of  child                                                               
protection cases to tribal courts.   In 1999, she continued, John                                                               
v. Baker  clearly recognized there  were tribes in  Alaska [slide                                                               
MS.  ANDERSON  informed  the committee  that  in  2018,  Governor                                                               
[Bill] Walker  [also recognized  tribes].   She pointed  out that                                                               
there  had  been  a  previous   administration  order  from  1990                                                               
recognizing tribes,  but it  had been overturned.   In  2018, she                                                               
continued,   Alaska   Administrative   Order  300   stated   that                                                               
government-to-government  relations with  Alaska tribes  would be                                                               
improved [slide 16].                                                                                                            
8:44:07 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. ANDERSON  reiterated that it  has been clearly stated  by the                                                               
Alaska Supreme Court as well  as by the state administration that                                                               
there are federally recognized tribes  in Alaska.  She added that                                                               
HB  221  would  effectively  move  the  legislature  out  of  the                                                               
termination era and into the era of self-determination.                                                                         
8:44:49 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  SINGH added  that while  "some dark  times" have  been seen,                                                               
there has  also been a kind  of awakening to an  understanding of                                                               
Native history.   Alaska has  been looked  down upon in  the past                                                               
decade over  its treatment of  tribes, she continued,  but Alaska                                                               
also has the  potential to lead the nation into  what will be the                                                               
next era.                                                                                                                       
8:46:29 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  EDGMON said  that  he thought  about  all of  the                                                               
years that Alaska  tribes have not been  properly recognized, and                                                               
that  he thought  HB 221  seemed to  be lacking  a preamble  that                                                               
talks about  the transition from one  era to the next.   He added                                                               
that he  has heard many  times that tribes  are not an  entity in                                                               
Alaska because they are not  in the Alaska Constitution, but only                                                               
recognized in the U.S. Constitution.   He opined that the journey                                                               
that  is taking  place and  the progress  taking place  should be                                                               
documented for posterity's sake.                                                                                                
8:49:09 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP responded that it  was important to step over                                                               
the threshold, and HB 221 is  narrowly structured so as to not to                                                               
"poke  anyone in  the eye"  while still  stating the  obvious. He                                                               
added that  HB 221 couldn't be  made any clearer. He  said he was                                                               
still  amenable  to a  legislative  intent  section; however,  he                                                               
acknowledged  that the  goal was  to keep  HB 221  as concise  as                                                               
possible  to strictly  address the  policy of  no longer  denying                                                               
that tribes exist in Alaska and to  open the door of a new era of                                                               
collaboration  with  tribes  on  every issue  with  which  Alaska                                                               
desperately needs help.                                                                                                         
8:51:14 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. TRUITT  mentioned that codifying  the preamble would  need to                                                               
be  a conversation  with Legislative  Legal Services.   He  added                                                               
that on the  first draft of HB 221 the  first and third sentences                                                               
had   been  removed   because  they   were  thought   to  signify                                                               
legislative intent,  leaving only  the second  sentence.   It was                                                               
insisted by the sponsor that  the first and third sentence remain                                                               
in  HB 221  primarily  for  the reasons  being  spoken about  [by                                                               
Representative   Edgmon]  and  for the  importance  of the  legal                                                               
doctrine of the Federal Trust Responsibility.                                                                                   
8:53:04 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   VANCE   mentioned   that   from   a   non-Native                                                               
perspective it  was difficult to  understand the fullness  of the                                                               
intergovernmental relationships  with tribes.  She  added that it                                                               
is  particularly   challenging  when  the  question   "Why  can't                                                               
[everyone]  just be  all Alaskan?"  is raised.   She  offered her                                                               
understanding  that the  perception in  many non-Native  minds is                                                               
that recognition  of tribes elevates tribes  over other Alaskans.                                                               
She added  that she would  like to  have a conversation  in which                                                               
"uncomfortable things"  were discussed, which would  in turn help                                                               
shift the way Alaskans create understanding.                                                                                    
8:55:38 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP replied that a  good foundation had been laid                                                               
throughout the past  year regarding tribes being  recognized.  He                                                               
explained that the state government  was "not caught up" to where                                                               
the  federal   government  was  going,   and  then   the  federal                                                               
government officially  changed positions under  President Nixon's                                                               
address.  While  the context of what  self-determination means is                                                               
"always  being  determined  in  the  courts,"  it  is  now  known                                                               
conclusively,  as  he pointed  out,  that  child custody  issues,                                                               
welfare  issues,  adoption  issues, and  lower-level  misdemeanor                                                               
criminal law  issues are  now recognized by  the courts  as being                                                               
solidly within tribal self-determination.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP  referenced Mr. Lindemuth's  factual analysis                                                               
that  the  law   is  evolving,  and  that  the   scope  of  self-                                                               
determination in  Alaska continues  to be  refined.   Designed to                                                               
"step  out of  the shadow,"  HB 221  would further  elucidate the                                                               
concept of  self-determination to the  point that it  will become                                                               
noticeable that lack of recognition  earlier has contributed to a                                                               
lot   of    the   societal   breakdown   such    as   depression,                                                               
intergenerational trauma  which leads  to suicide,  and substance                                                               
abuse.    Representative  Kopp  continued  by  adding  that  this                                                               
"hurdle" must  be overcome,  and tribal  citizens may  be honored                                                               
for who they are.                                                                                                               
8:59:07 AM                                                                                                                    
The committee took an at-ease from 8:59 a.m. to 9:01 a.m.                                                                       
9:01:35 AM                                                                                                                    
HOLLY HANDLER,  Alaska Legal  Services Corporation,  informed the                                                               
committee that  for eight  years she litigated  a single  case to                                                               
recognize  tribal child  support  orders in  Alaska.   Since  the                                                               
Alaska Purchase  in 1867,  state recognition  of tribes  has been                                                               
the norm.   She went on  to say that  what HB 221 proposes  to do                                                               
has  been the  accepted truth  in Alaska,  and it's  only been  a                                                               
recent  development  that  there  is a  battle  over  recognizing                                                               
Alaska tribes.                                                                                                                  
MS.  HANDLER imparted  to the  committee that  a large  amount of                                                               
time, money,  and resources has  been expended  "fighting against                                                               
truth," and it has been a  failed investment.  Ms. Handler echoed                                                               
Ms. Anderson  and Ms.  Singh's assertion that  HB 221  really has                                                               
its roots in  the Alaska Purchase, but she added  that the 50,000                                                               
indigenous  residents didn't  agree  to said  purchase but  would                                                               
instead think of it as dealing  in stolen property.  In 1867, she                                                               
continued,   tribes  were   referred  to   as  sovereign   Native                                                               
governments, and it was uncontroversial  that that tribes existed                                                               
in Alaska and have for 10,000 years.                                                                                            
9:05:40 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  HANDLER continued  by explaining  that dual  citizenship had                                                               
been created,  and this  was uncontroversial.   The U.S.  did not                                                               
recognize  indigenous   people  as   citizens  until   1924,  she                                                               
continued,  under  the Alaska  Citizenship  Act  in 1915,  Native                                                               
Alaskans  had to  apply for  Alaska citizenship,  and could  only                                                               
apply  if  they  got  certification  from  at  least  five  white                                                               
citizens   that  they   had  severed   all   tribal  customs   or                                                               
relationships.     Ms.  Handler  added  that   the  legal  status                                                               
recognizing tribes has been uncontroversial,  but "that is not to                                                               
paper over" the racism  and institutionalized discrimination that                                                               
has taken place for the last 150 years.                                                                                         
MS.  HANDLER  imparted  that  tribes  not  only  exist  but  have                                                               
authority, something that  can be traced back to  the early 1900s                                                               
with laws enacting  federal reserves for Alaska  Native tribes as                                                               
well as allotments and townsites  having been reserved for tribal                                                               
citizens in  Alaska.   In the 1930s,  she continued,  the federal                                                               
government recognized  that tribal governments could  enact their                                                               
own  laws of  marriage.   In  the 1930s,  she  added, the  Indian                                                               
Reorganization Act also recognized Alaska tribes in the state.                                                                  
In  the 1970s,  a  series of  legislation,  including the  Indian                                                               
Child Welfare Act of 1971,  specifically recognized the existence                                                               
of tribes in Alaska.                                                                                                            
9:08:53 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  HANDLER  explained  that   anti-tribal  advocates  tried  to                                                               
"twist"  Public   Law  280  [1953]   to  say  that   tribes  were                                                               
extinguished in  Alaska.  Between  1986 and 1992,  she continued,                                                               
several lawsuits  took place including tribes  using authority to                                                               
protect abused  and neglected tribal  children.  In  these cases,                                                               
she added,  anti-tribal advocates  asked the  court to  find that                                                               
tribes  lost their  sovereignty with  the passage  of the  Alaska                                                               
Native Claims  Settlement Act  (ANCSA) in  1971, and  they argued                                                               
that without land tribes couldn't govern their own citizens.                                                                    
9:10:57 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. HANDLER echoed  Ms. Anderson and Ms. Singh,  who had informed                                                               
the  committee that  when  Baker  v. John  was  litigated to  the                                                               
Alaska Supreme  Court in  1999, tribes  and tribal  advocates had                                                               
100 years  of history  to prove  that anti-tribal  advocates were                                                               
"off base"  in trying to  create new  law in Alaska  [that tribes                                                               
had been extinguished by ANCSA].   Ms. Handler added that in 1999                                                               
the  State of  Alaska and  the U.S.  Department of  Justice sided                                                               
with the  tribes in saying  tribal jurisdiction exists  in Alaska                                                               
because tribes  are sovereign entities  in Alaska.  In  2000, she                                                               
continued,  an entire  set of  policies and  procedures including                                                               
the  Millennium  Agreement   [between  the  Federally  Recognized                                                               
Sovereign Tribes  of Alaska  and the State  of Alaska,  2001] and                                                               
the inception  of the Office  of Children's Services  [a division                                                               
of the Alaska Department of  Health and Social Services, based on                                                               
John v. Baker] made it seem that the road was one of progress.                                                                  
MS.  HANDLER  informed   the  committee  that  in   2004  a  new,                                                               
aggressively  anti-tribal  stance "tore  up"  all  the work  that                                                               
Alaska had done  in the preceding five years.   Without referring                                                               
to  the  100  years  of  history, it  was  declared  that  tribal                                                               
sovereignty did not exist in Alaska.                                                                                            
9:14:11 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. HANDLER  stated that all of  the cases were decided  in favor                                                               
of the tribes  because history, research, and truth  were on [the                                                               
tribes'] side.   The Alaska Supreme Court and  federal courts all                                                               
agreed  that nothing  in ANCSA  extinguished  the sovereignty  of                                                               
tribes to  exist in Alaska  and [that tribes should]  continue to                                                               
exercise jurisdiction  over their own  people.  There was  a huge                                                               
opportunity   cost,  Ms.   Handler  added:     Alaska   lost  the                                                               
opportunity to  partner with tribes  on projects, on  grants, and                                                               
on  federal programs.    Only since  2016,  she continued,  since                                                               
Alaska stopped  actively litigating  against the tribes  in these                                                               
cases,  has  there  been  a  "blossoming"  of  opportunity,  from                                                               
transportation  and road  building to  child protection.   Alaska                                                               
signed  a  historic  agreement to  jointly  support  children  in                                                               
tribal foster care  to take some of the burden  off the state and                                                               
also to  empower the  tribe to support  its own  foster families.                                                               
From  the legal  perspective, Ms.  Handler concluded,  HB 221  is                                                               
nothing revolutionary  in terms of  law, but it  is revolutionary                                                               
in terms of  solidifying Alaska's commitment that  there won't be                                                               
a  reverting back  to  a  period of  litigation  against its  own                                                               
9:17:03 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. SINGH  pointed out  as a  follow-up to  Ms. Handler  that the                                                               
lack of understanding  and lack of education  regarding tribes by                                                               
Alaskans was purposeful:  it  was a decision made by policymakers                                                               
to attempt to  "wipe" tribal governments from  the history books.                                                               
Miseducation  was a  part of  an Alaska  termination policy,  she                                                               
added,  and  still  is  today,  as not  only  students  but  also                                                               
lawmakers do  not understand the history  of Alaska.  As  long as                                                               
the termination era continues, she  added, the battle will go on.                                                               
Ms. Singh  urged that now  is not  the time that  Native Alaskans                                                               
are able to wait.                                                                                                               
9:19:50 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  EDGMON  posited  that  the  U.S.  did  away  with                                                               
treaties in  1872.  Alaska became  a state in 1958-59,  he added.                                                               
He brought  to committee members'  minds William Paul,  the first                                                               
Alaska  Native attorney,  in 1912,  and the  significance of  his                                                               
efforts  through   the  Indian   Reorganization  Act   and  other                                                               
groundbreaking  work.   Representative    Edgmon emphasized  that                                                               
Congress didn't know  how to deal with Alaska,  so Alaska drifted                                                               
along for  many years, and has  been doing some painful  catch up                                                               
9:23:06 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR ZULKOSKY opened public testimony on HB 221.                                                                               
9:23:21 AM                                                                                                                    
RICHARD PETERSON, President, Tlingit  & Haida, began by informing                                                               
the committee  that as  a lifelong  Alaskan, he  first identifies                                                               
through his clan, something that  can be traced for 10,000 years.                                                               
He added that it doesn't make  him any more important than anyone                                                               
else who was born  in or who moved to Alaska,  but that he thinks                                                               
it is  deserving of some  special historical  recognition because                                                               
he  came from  the  village  of his  forefathers.   Mr.  Peterson                                                               
pointed  out  that  the  resources often  spoke  about  are  what                                                               
exemplify what Alaska  is and should be, and as  a Native Alaskan                                                               
he  feels  as though  Native  culture  and  history add  to  that                                                               
9:26:16 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  PETERSON  added that  he  thinks  it's  ironic to  still  be                                                               
talking about recognition especially  having been in the position                                                               
of president  and being  able to  bring funds  in because  of the                                                               
standing  as  a federally  recognized  tribe.   It  "always  gave                                                               
pause" when he had to sign  a waiver of sovereign immunity to the                                                               
State of  Alaska, he said, because  of the fact that  Alaska does                                                               
not recognize tribes, and that he  would like to see that go away                                                               
through [the implementation of HB  221].  Mr. Peterson added that                                                               
Tlingit  &  Haida  is  unique  in  that  it's  a  regional  tribe                                                               
recognized  by an  act of  Congress, and,  similarly to  what Ms.                                                               
Anderson and  Ms. Singh  put forth, also  represents some  of the                                                               
village  tribes  through  a  compact.   Alaska  is  home  to  229                                                               
federally   recognized  tribes,   Mr.  Peterson   continued,  and                                                               
especially when taken into consideration  that Alaska tribes make                                                               
up almost  half the number  of tribes nationwide,  recognition is                                                               
long overdue.                                                                                                                   
9:29:17 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. PETERSON  said that  because Tlingit &  Haida is  a federally                                                               
recognized tribe, it  is a formal trust  relationship between the                                                               
tribal  government  and the  federal  government  which has  been                                                               
repeatedly  upheld when  sovereignty is  questioned.   Addressing                                                               
Representative Edgmon, Mr. Peterson cautioned  that it may be the                                                               
"death  of" HB  221  if it  were  to be  expanded,  and that  its                                                               
simplicity is the beauty of it.   Conversations with those who do                                                               
not understand tribal governments need  to be expanded, he added,                                                               
and getting recognition  [via HB 221] will be the  start of those                                                               
conversations.  Mr. Peterson cautioned  against expanding HB 221,                                                               
even though,  he admitted,  it was contrary  to his  own beliefs,                                                               
because what was most important was "pushing it through."                                                                       
MR. PETERSON related to the committee  that he grew up in a small                                                               
village  that  viewed the  U.S.  Forest  Service (USFS)  as  "the                                                               
enemy" because  the USFS systematically  went through  the region                                                               
burning  down Native  homes  and  fish camps.    These days,  Mr.                                                               
Peterson has a  good relationship with the USFS, but,  as he told                                                               
the  committee,  he carried  trauma  for  years because  of  what                                                               
happened with the burning  of the village as a child.   He drew a                                                               
parallel  with Alaska's  non-recognition of  federally recognized                                                               
tribes.    "Begin  healing  by  passing HB  221,"  he  urged  the                                                               
committee.  Recognition would be  a powerful way to move forward,                                                               
not as  a way of  elevating, but as  a way of  recognizing Native                                                               
Alaskans' uniqueness.                                                                                                           
9:38:25 AM                                                                                                                    
FREDERICK  OLSEN,  JR,  tribal  citizen,  began  by  telling  the                                                               
committee  that tribes  exist, and  for Alaska  not to  recognize                                                               
tribes is to  ignore reality and perpetuate  the pain, suffering,                                                               
and  negativity  of the  past.    It's  time  to end  the  colony                                                               
mindset, he  continued, and transition  to a more  civilized era,                                                               
the first step of which is recognizing tribes.                                                                                  
9:42:07 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR ZULKOSKY, after ascertaining there was no one else who                                                                    
wished to testify, closed public testimony on HB 221.                                                                           
CHAIR ZULKOSKY announced that HB 221 was held over.