The Rural Governance Commission congratulates Governor Bill Walker, Lt. Governor Byron Mallott and their administration for creating the Tribal Advisory Council. The council’s mission is to “identify areas of concern and opportunity shared by the State and the Tribes and to suggest policy, programs and other means and methods for solutions and progress.”

The state working directly with tribes is an exciting step. RGC recognizes the challenges that lie ahead and appreciates this positive action in overcoming past acrimony.

The Rural Governance Commission was established in 1998 by then-Governor Tony Knowles. It formulated a comprehensive set of recommendations to reform the state government’s official policy toward federally recognized tribes in Alaska in order to improve and empower rural Alaska governance systems and ensure that local people receive the maximum benefit from them.

Fifteen years after the first report, a group of concerned and committed Alaskans concluded that “rural governance is unfinished business” in Alaska and came together in December, 2013 to revisit the original commission’s work. The reconvened commission concluded that no significant progress had been made in the past fifteen years and, in its report, offered recommendations very similar to those that were made in the original report in 1999.

By creating the Tribal Advisory Council, the Walker-Mallott administration has shown that it takes the commission’s recommendations seriously. RGC applauds the administration’s commitment to working with key representatives of the tribal community. RGC looks forward to working with the council to make all of the tools available for helping rural Alaska attain a new level of vibrancy. The diversity of the people in this state, including Alaska’s first people, is what makes Alaska great!