Story last updated at 4/24/2013 - 2:18 pm
Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (Central Council) adjourned its 78th Annual Tribal Assembly on April 20, 2013 at the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall in Juneau, Alaska.
Attending this year's assembly were 124 of the 132 elected delegates who represent over 28,000 tribal citizens. The gathering provided an opportunity for direct communication between delegates who worked together aligning with this year's theme, "Hold Each Other Up," to address amendments to the Constitution, Rules of Election, and statutes (Title IV - CCTHITA Child and Family and VI - Tribal Courts). In addition to the proposed changes to the governing documents, delegates took action on 55 resolutions brought forward.
President Edward K. Thomas presented his State of the Tribe Address on Thursday, April 18th, informing on the status of the Tribal Trust Fund and providing updates on program administration, property management, political involvement, and challenges the Tribe faces with sequestration, indirect cost recovery and reduced funding. In addition, he reviewed statute changes and constitutional amendments proposed to keep up with the changing times. Thomas also spoke about succession planning, as he will retire at the end of his term in 2014, and paid tribute to the late Clarence Jackson, past Central Council President.
Elections held Friday, April 19th, seated: Aurora Lehr of Anchorage as Tribal Court Judge (two-year term 2013-2015), Robert Loescher of Juneau as Tribal Court Judge (one-year term 2013-2014), Shirley Kendall of Anchorage as Delegate/Citizen of the Year, and Konrad Frank of Angoon as Youth Representative.
One highlight of the Tribal Assembly was a well attended Honor Dinner held Friday evening that paid tribute to tribal citizen and Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Inductee Herb Didrickson. First Vice President Will Micklin presented Mr. Didrickson with the President's Lifetime Achievement Award and a proclamation that declared Friday, April 19, 2013, as Herb Didrickson Day. The dinner concluded with the singing of school songs from Sheldon Jackson days by 16 alumni who joined the honoree on stage.
Other highlights of the Assembly included: words from Tribal Hostess Laverne John of Ketchikan and Tribal Host Thomas Dalton of Seattle; Keynote Address by Xh'unei - Lance Twitchell, UAS Assistant Professor of Alaska Native Languages; special recognitions of Senator Albert Kookesh and Representative Bill Thomas; Ketchikan receiving Large Community Council of the Year and Juneau receiving Large Community Council of the Year 1st Runner-Up; and exceptional dance performances by Yees Ku Oo, Woosh.ji.een, and the Tlingit Culture Language & Literacy Students.
President Thomas gave his closing remarks about the history of our Native organizations and how they were shaped by our elders.
"It's really good that we can get together and have honest debates," said President Thomas. "Policy development is very important; when we disagree it makes for better policy. Some of the policies that we enjoy today were developed by our ancestors. I can remember the William Pauls...Roy Peratrovich, the folks that were icons of the Native community did not make any decisions without a good debate."