New ballot initiative seeks state to formally recognize tribes

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - A ballot initiative is in the beginning stages of collecting signatures to be placed on the 2022 election ballot.

    A measure that would have made the state recognize tribes was previously going through the legislature, but was transmitted to the senate and no further movement on the bill was made.

    The ballot initiative was reviewed by the state department of law. The department said the legal effects of the initiative are limited.

    President of Tlingit & Haida Central Council, Richard Peterson, said tribes have a government-to-government relationship with the federal government but are not formally recognized by the state of Alaska.

    Peterson said that he and other native leaders have formed a group to put the matter to voters statewide, the group is dubbed "Alaskans for a better government"

    There are 229 federally recognized tribes in Alaska. Peterson said it's just time for the recognition.

    "We're really excited about this so really want everybody to support it, push it and encourage everybody to do it because it's just time. We really need to be working together, and I think about a lot of the wasted opportunities when the state doesn't work with the tribes in ways they can. I think we can make Alaska a better state by working together and exercising our sovereignty," he said.

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