BETHEL, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska governor’s administration has refused to consult with two Native tribes on proposed projects, the tribes have said.
The Orutsararmiut Native Council and the Chilkat Indian Village said they have been blocked in their attempts to work with Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy and members his administration, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported Wednesday.
Orutsararmiut leaders from Bethel in western Alaska have asked for government-to-government consultation regarding a proposed gold mine with the state Department of Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Fish and Game.
Government-to-government consultation is a federal process and not applicable to state permitting, according to a letter sent to the tribe by department commissioners.
“I was shocked. I couldn’t believe they were denying our request and it was like another shutdown to our voices,” said Mary Matthias, Orutsararmiut council natural resources director.
The administration has also refused to work with Chilkat leaders in the state’s southern region on a mineral exploration effort, the tribe said.
Dunleavy is willing to use government-to-government process consultation only if there is an “absolute” outcome possible, he said last week.
“We’re going to be sitting down with various stakeholder groups associated with rural Alaska,” Dunleavy said. “We want to have genuine conversations, though, that move us from point A to point B. We just don’t want to have conversations for the sake of conversations.”
Alaska Native tribes are a form of government recognized at the federal level as having sovereignty over certain matters, but there are disputes in the state over tribal authority.
Information from: KYUK-AM, http://www.kyuk.org