The second day of the Alaska Federation of Natives got under way this morning. This year’s theme is based on Traditional Native Family Values. The convention started with the AFN Co-Chair candidate’s speeches. Four strong Indigenous leaders were nominated, including Bethel Native Corporation CEO Ana Cooke-Hoffman.
She has a long history with AFN, starting as a youth co-chair for the Elders and Youth conference ten years ago. Cooke-Hoffman hoped that she could serve now, and in 20-years at the elders and youth, as an elder.
The Senior Director of Inter-governmental and legal affairs for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Valerie Davidson, gave a comprehensive report on how the Affordable Care Act affects Alaska’s Indigenous people.
Davidson says ANTHC commissioned two studies to see how the Affordable Care Act would impact Alaska. She says the studies showed that over 40-thousand people would be enrolled in Medicaid, of which 12-15,000 are Alaska’s first people, and that $1.1 Billion in federal revenue would be generated creating 4,000 new jobs.
Also Friday morning at AFN, a number of distinguished people received awards. An elder from the Ahtna region, 91-year old Robert Marshall, was recognized as the 2013 AFN elder of the year. Marshall stressed that without your culture you are nothing, and that one can be educated in the Western way, but not to ever lose one’s indigenous culture.
University of Alaska linguist, Larry Kaplan, received the Denali Award for his work in preserving Alaska’s Indigenous Languages. Kaplan received a standing ovation.
This afternoon, KYUK will air the important discussion and update on subsistence. I will be attending a luncheon where journalists will discuss the media’s role in Alaska Native Policitcs.