Anchorage, Alaska—The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced it is seeking public comment on the agency’s first ever proposed Alaska Native Relations Policy.
“Alaska Native peoples have been stewarding Alaska’s lands long before our agency existed,” said Service Director Martha Williams. “I’m thrilled to take this step forward in honoring and respecting Tribal sovereignty and strengthening our relationships with Alaska Native peoples. With this policy, we can move forward together, and recognize the value of Indigenous traditional and ecological knowledge in our shared stewardship of these lands.”
The Service’s work in Alaska has significant implications for Alaska Native peoples, from managing more than 77 million acres of refuge lands that are Indigenous homelands to protecting marine mammals and migratory birds that are critical to traditional ways of life. To ensure this work honors Tribal trust responsibilities and embraces opportunities for co-stewardship and collaboration, the Service has developed a draft Alaska Native Relations Policy to guide all Service employees who work in Alaska or with Alaska Native peoples.
The policy builds on the strong foundation of the Service’s Native American Policy and speaks to Alaska’s unique legal framework for conservation and unique cultural traditions and ways of life. The draft policy includes sections on Sovereignty and government-to-government relations; communications and relationships; resource management, including subsistence, co-stewardship, and Indigenous and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (ITEK); culture/religion; law enforcement; and Tribal capacity building, assistance, and funding.
Alaska is home to 229 federally recognized Tribes and 173 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act Corporations. The policy was developed collaboratively with Tribes, Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs), and Alaska Native Organizations (ANOs). In April, the Service held consultation meetings to solicit additional feedback on the draft from Tribes, ANOs, and ANCs. The conversations were positive, and mutual respect was demonstrated with acknowledgement that this draft policy is welcome and appreciated.
The draft policy is available for a 30-day public comment period. The policy and information on how to submit public comments can be found on the Federal Register: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/11/03/2022-23931/draft-alaska-native-relations-policy-of-the-us-fish-and-wildlife-service
For more information about the Service’s Alaska Native Affairs work and the draft Alaska Native Relations Policy, please visit: https://www.fws.gov/program/native-american/alaska-native-affairs.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, visit https://www.fws.gov/alaska/, or connect with us through any of these social media at http://www.fws.gov/home/socialmedia/index.html.
Media Contact: Andrea Medeiros, firstname.lastname@example.org, 907-227-4788