The Alaska House of Representatives has passed two bills sponsored by Representative Tiffany Zulkosky (D-Bethel).
House Bill 123, a bill for the state legislature to formally recognize Alaska Native tribes, passed on May 19 by a vote of 35-4. According to a press release by the Alaska House Coalition, Zulkosky said, “There are many ongoing discussions about the benefits of expanding our relationship with tribes to advance our many shared values." She said that state recognition of Alaska Native tribes would make a relationship more possible.
On May 13, the House passed a different bill that strengthens the state’s relationship with tribes. House Bill 184 cements into law the Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Compact, an agreement that the state entered into with tribes in 2017. The compact was designed for tribal organizations to provide local child welfare programs on behalf of the state. The partnership aims to improve the state’s existing child welfare resources, especially in rural areas, to tackle the issue of a disproportionate number of Alaska Native children in state custody.
“The government closest to the people serves the people best,” said Zulkosky.
House Bill 184 also passed by a 35-4 vote margin.
Both bills now head to the Alaska Senate for consideration.