What are we doing?

 I have a bum hip. My avatar  is a photo taken on a mountain  as far up ,  with my sticks and cussedness, as I could climb. This next piece is another such climb. I can see up mountain but I am not sure I can get there .

I’m going to take  a flying run at this anyway  and I’m counting on folks who stop by to be my sticks.

And I’m going to take it in pieces, stop and rest along the way, and go for it again…

Self determination, in western philosophy, is an almost sacred ideal . A huge set of ideas  which turn round the acceptance and advancement of the individual and the individual’s place  in society.

Per Wiki,  political self determination ” is seen as the freedom of the people of a given territory or national grouping to determine their own political status and how they will be governed without undue influence from any other country.[1] There are conflicting definitions and legal criteria for determining which groups may legitimately claim the right to self-determination.[

Self determination, on the ground,   in relation to indigenous peoples in America is a whole other world.

Shifting  notions of state and tribal sovereignty,

Competing and/or overlapping jurisdictional issues,






With the passage of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act in 1975 there was a major shift in how the federal government did business with sovereign tribes  in America.

This brief entry from the  US History Encyclopedia  describes the philosophical change  at the federal level and comments that the

“… policy of self-determination committed the federal government to encouraging “maximum Indian participation in the Government and education of the Indian people.” The 1975 legislation contained two provisions. Title I, the Indian Self-Determination Act, established procedures by which tribes could negotiate contracts with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to administer their own education and social service programs. It also provided direct grants to help tribes develop plans to assume responsibility for federal programs. Title II, the Indian Education Assistance Act, attempted to increase parental input in Indian education by guaranteeing Indian parents’ involvement on school boards.”

I got stuck  right here for the last couple of weeks trying to figure out how to share more of the little I know.  Alaska’s situation , post ANSCA, has made this act , how and who it helps, and how and where and why ( agh!) very difficult to unravel.

It almost always works , for me, to take stock of the ground I stand on and sort from there …

Here , in Alaska, this is what we stand on .

The Department of Commerce , Division of Community and Regional Affairs , has prepared and posted an overview of government in Alaska which attempts to explain our unusual situation.

I think this is a decent take on the complexity of governing bodies and providers of services, for rural Alaska in particular, and a decent overview of muncipal government statewide.

It has a full list of the state and federal laws which apply to our ways of organizing ourselves as communities here .

Gonna rest here for a bit…

Published in: on January 23, 2010 at 9:37 pm  Comments (2)  

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. “I got stuck right here for the last couple of weeks trying to figure out how to share more of the little I know.”

    I appreciate your efforts to offer clarity to the confusing relationships of the Alaska Natives within their own communities, the boroughs, area towns and cities, the state, the feds, and all the rest. Please continue on your climb, and allow us to follow along with you as you go. Rest when you need to, and share what you can. Maybe, eventually, enough of your discoveries and new way of looking at things will lead to new paths that will bring help to the native Alaskans there. What a great thing that would be!

  2. I can understand the need to rest in trying to sort through all this.

    Although it is not popular in many circles I continue to feel that the INTENT was not for each little village to be a tribe all unto its own. The federal, and even the state, has to find dealing with so many groups overwhelming.

    More over there is no way the smaller tribes/villages can effectively handle all these mandates in an effective manner.

    Keep at this and hopefully we can all sort through it all and come to a higher ground where things can be addressed and solutions found.

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