UAF Hosts Tribal Governance Symposium

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - The 3rd annual Tribal Governance Symposium kicked-off today at the Wood Center on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus.
The 3 day symposium for the Native tribes of Alaska is described as a time for them to help build up knowledge and understanding of tribal governance.
David Spindler was there and files this report.

The symposium led by the Alaskan native tribes and people provides an academic setting for dialogue to help further the future of tribal governance in Alaska. The theme chosen for this year's forum is Land, Water, and Life. From Monday through Wednesday, tribal leaders and guest speakers will be speaking about tribal governance, indigenous stewardship, and advocacy advancement. One of the first guest speakers was Che Wilson from New Zealand. He was invited to talk about his experience there, where his tribe has been fighting for the past 100 years to give legal personality to at least two of the New Zealand rivers. He says that he hopes his stories and experiences will help inspire people in Alaska to take charge in protecting their land and waters.

Che Wilson; Chief Negotiator for Ngati Rangi - New Zealand>>"I believe that we as indigenous people have a gift to the world. And currently that gift hasn't been heard but through processes like this, like giving our river legal personality we can then start to help teach the world other ways of utilizing natural resources rather than just use and abuse. So I think we've got a gift to give to them and it's not just Mauri but it's all indigenous people around the world."

Andrea Sanders from the Alaska Native Policy Center says Wilson's presentation inspired her too. She says his lecture and guidance was exactly what the forum this year was all about, working together.

Andrea Sanders; Director of the Alaska Native Policy Center>>"Our goal and our intent is that we can really wake up to the fact that many of the challenges were facing can be solved If we put our minds together and if we get out of the mindset that the silos that divide us in some of the work that we do that were really trying to serve the same people. So a lot of this work is also about being good relatives to one another."

David Spindler reporting.