Representatives of over a dozen tribes decided on Tuesday to move forward with creating a regional tribal government representing the 56 tribes in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.
Mike Williams Sr. of Akiak organized the Tuesday meeting in Bethel. He has long championed the idea of a regional tribal government.
“We’re finally moving again towards having a unified tribal government in the region, and it would be up to each tribal member in the vote in November to decide that future for a unified tribal government that will not take away any sovereign powers from each of the 56 tribes,” said Williams.
This action came in the wake of a proposal put forth by the region's state Senator, Lyman Hoffman, to create a borough in the delta. Senate Bill 18 would establish a borough with the power to tax the proposed Donlin Gold mine and build infrastructure to lower energy costs.
Tribal leaders decided to oppose Senator Hoffman's borough proposal in their meeting Tuesday, saying it could block the formation of a regional tribal government.
The group scheduled a constitutional convention in Bethel for July with the objective of reviewing and amending a draft constitution.
The draft, partially modeled off tribal constitutions in the lower 48 and Canada, was written in 2015 by Y-K tribes, regional corporations, and village corporations.
Those at the Tuesday meeting are asking all Y-K Delta tribes to include a proposition on tribal council ballots in November to vote "yes" or "no" on accepting the constitution after it’s amended this summer.