Alaska House passes bills for tribal child welfare, state recognition of tribes


Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky, D-Bethel, speaks during a House floor session in the Alaska Capitol in Juneau on Feb. 23, 2020. (Photo by Skip Gray/KTOO)

The Alaska House of Representatives has passed two bills sponsored by Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky, D-Bethel.

House Bill 123, a bill for the state legislature to formally recognize Alaska Native tribes, passed on Wednesday by a vote of 35-4.

“There are many ongoing discussions about the benefits of expanding our relationship with tribes to advance our many shared values,” Zulkosky said in a statement from the Alaska House Coalition.

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,” Zulkosky said.

House Bill 184 also passed by a 35-4 vote. Both bills now head to the Alaska Senate for consideration.

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