Alaska Native Heritage Month bill passes Legislature

Shyla Krukoff wore the Chugach Hat during dance performances at Sobriety Celebration Nov. 11. The Chugach Hat is a recent acquisition to the Cordova Ikumat Dance Group and the Ilanka Cultural Center. The Chugach Hat was purchased through a generous grant from the Rasmussen Foundation through the Art Acquisition Fund, a program which gives grant money to museums in Alaska to purchase new artwork for their museum collections. Photo by Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson/The Cordova Times

Legislation to permanently establish November as Alaska Native Heritage Month has passed both houses of the Legislature and now awaits approval from Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

House Bill 126, sponsored by the House Tribal Affairs Committee, comes in the wake of years of lawmakers annually designating November as Alaska Native Heritage Month. This legislation makes the designation a permanent one.

“Alaska Native cultures, languages and traditions contribute to the cultural and economic fabric of our state,” said Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky, D-Bethel, chair of the House Tribal Affairs Committee. “Celebrating our rich and unique heritage is a way to bring all Alaskans together.”

Sen. Elvy Gray-Jackson, D-Anchorage, who carried H.B. 126 on the Senate floor, said the legislation “is an opportunity to celebrate, honor and recognize Alaska Native tribes and cultures that have called this land home for thousands of years.

“Not only will this celebrate the past but also bring attention to the efforts Alaska Native communities have made on health, dignity and self-determination,” Gray-Jackson said. “By permanently recognizing this month, we are echoing the permanency of Alaska Native cultures.”