AFN: Annual convention begins in Fairbanks

KEYNOTE ADDRESS— Cook Inlet Tribal Council president Gloria O’Neill delivered the key note address during the opening of the 2010 convention of the Alaska Federation of Natives in Fairbanks. O’Neil highlighted the need for an overhaul of the education system for all Alaskans. Photo by Diana Haecker

FAIRBANKS— The convention of the Alaska Federation of Natives kicked off in Fairbanks this morning with speeches by Alaska Governor Sean Parnell, Congressman Don Young and a key note address by Gloria O’Neill with the Cook Inlet Tribal Council.

This years’ convention theme is “Village Survival.” Parnell reaffirmed the administration’s crack-down on domestic violence and said that village survival is jeopardized if families are suffering from domestic violence, substance and alcohol abuse.

He challenged all the men present to stand up and to pledge to protect their women and children. Parnell said that his administration aims to have 40 villages participate in marching through their communities for a “Choose Respect” event held in spring of 2011.

Gloria O’Neill, the CEO and president of Cook Inlet Tribal Council, delivered the key note address and stressed that education – not only for native Alaskans, but all Alaskan children. She said that public education is in desperate need of reform and pleaded with parents that it’s not only up to the government on state and federal level, but that it starts with parents to be actively involved in the education of their children.

Congressman Don Young delivered a short speech, vowing to rein in federal government regulations. He said the government is intruding too much on the lives of Alaskans, mentioning regulations of greenhouse gases and the recent arrest of a subsistence hunter boating inside National Park boundaries on the Yukon.

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