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The first Alaska Native Tribal Government Symposium—intended to build knowledge, understanding, and relationships for the advancement of tribal government in Alaska—convened on November 15-17, 2016 at Westmark Hotel in Fairbanks, Alaska. Hosted by the Native Nations Institute (NNI), University of Alaska Fairbanks Tribal Management Program, and the Tanana Chiefs Conference [weblink], the forum gathered more than two hundred Alaska Native tribal government leaders, corporation leaders and staff, state and federal government officials, academics, and other community partners.
Centered on the theme of Alaska Native nation building, symposium presentations and roundtable discussions addressed topics ranging from traditional and modern tribal governance to Indigenous leadership, the role of health and wellness in governance, and tribal control over Indian child welfare. NNI faculty chair Stephen Cornell, Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska president Richard J. Peterson, and Casey Family Programs senior director Jack F. Trope were the forum’s keynote speakers. Stephen Cornell shared, “Nation building is [about] building the capacity of your community, your tribe, your village, your alliance of villages, your nation to govern its land and affairs over the long haul, on behalf of its own goals, and to govern well.”