Calista Corporation Leads Effort For A Regional Tribal Government

Oct 29, 2020

Credit Teresa Cotsirilos / KYUK

There are now two efforts to create a regional tribal government in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. The older effort, Nunavut, led by Mike Williams Sr. has made little progress to unite large numbers of villages in the region. The second effort is being facilitated by the Calista regional Native corporation.

Willie Kasayulie, the Calista Corporation board member heading up the effort, said that the two efforts are similar, but that the effort being mounted by Calista is broader and is aimed at including the entire region. He added that he thinks that the region cannot have two tribal regional governments.

“It would have to be one or the other,” said Kasayulie. “And I think we drafted the constitution for the Y-K Regional Tribal Government to be more inclusive of the tribes throughout the region.”

Creating a regional tribal government has been an idea in the Y-K Delta since local tribes gained federal recognition as tribes in the 1993. It’s very different from the Association of Village Council Presidents, which is a non-profit corporation registered with the state government. Robert Porter, with the Capitol Hill Policy Group, is working as Calista’s consultant on the project. He is from the Seneca Nation, and is a former president of that tribe. He said that tribal governments are in a much better position to get funds and have the authority needed to develop large projects, like utility infrastructure and resource projects like the proposed Donlin mine.

“As a way to a development project like Donlin, it’s a perfect opportunity for a regional tribal government to engage in that kind of issue in terms of supporting, regulating, whatever the case may be in terms of even taxation. And that dialogues are really not possible until a regional tribal government is formed,” said Porter.

Calista has extended the deadline for tribes to vote on whether or not to join the regional tribal government to the end of the year. So far, around half of the tribal councils in the region have acted on the idea. Once the tribal entity was formed, Calista would not have a vote in the decisions made by it. To find out more about the effort and read the proposed constitution for the regional tribal government,  go to

To hear the complete interview on the subject, go to “Coffee at KYUK” on the KYUK website.

On Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 8:40 a.m., Mike Williams Sr., who is with the Nunavut Alaska Provisional Government, will be on “Coffee at KYUK" to talk about the state of tribal government in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Nunavut predates the regional effort being facilitated by Calista Corporation.