FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 9, 2016
Jeffry Silverman – 907.263.1304
White House Action on Alaskan Arctic Resilience Elevates the Voice of Alaska Native Tribes
AFN supports President Obama’s creation of the Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area, an Executive Order designed to enhance the resilience of the Alaskan Arctic environment and the sustainability of Native communities.
“AFN is encouraged by the effort to raise the role of Alaska Natives tribes and organizations affected in decisions which affect them directly,” said Julie Kitka, AFN President. “It is another step in a long process to address the critical economic, cultural and subsistence food security needs of our people. What is needed next is an investment in infrastructure and greater opportunities to build a sustainable economy.”
The Executive Order formally elevates the voice of Alaskan Native tribes and the role of indigenous knowledge in science-based decision-making by mandating that the Task Force on the Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area establish and engage in regular consultation with a Bering Intergovernmental Tribal Advisory Council. The Council will consist primarily of tribal government representatives with participation from Federal, state, and local officials. Together, these two groups will guide the incorporation of valuable traditional knowledge and science into federal resource management in the northern Bering Sea region, thus preserving this unique ecosystem and the Native peoples who rely upon it.
AFN appreciates several other steps taken in tandem with the Executive Order, including the
U.S. Department of Commerce’s deployment of an Economic Development Assessment Team to Nome, Alaska to help the region diversify, grow its economy, and address challenges related to climate change and community resilience; and new commitments from the philanthropic community, which has pledged $30 million for projects in rural Alaska and Canada.
“AFN strongly supports public-private partnerships. The more collaboration we can encourage will help solve some very difficult and complex challenges. “ Kitka added.
The Executive Order incorporates long-time AFN priorities and resolutions. AFN Resolution 16-10 calls for the expansion of the USCG and relates to shipping and search and rescue in the Arctic. AFN Resolution 16-31 urges continued focus on the Arctic. AFN Resolution 15-24 urges the federal govt. to act to address and mitigate climate change and its impact on communities in the Arctic and shipping. AFN Resolution 15-2 calls for the advancement of meaningful Alaska Native co-management and the improvement of resource management.