Andrew Hope III advocating for tribal self governance in 1995 via clan representation on tribal councils.
Alaska Native Storyteller
By Andrew Hope III
When the Indian Reorganization Act was being debated in the early thirties, the main concern of Members of Congress was that Indians had no official organization to represent themselves to the federal government. Congress wasn’t concerned with furthering the concept of self-governance of Indian tribes.
Alaskan tribes that organized pursuant to the IRA in the late thirties through the early fifties adopted template constitutions that fit the following molds: Native/Indian Villages, Organized Villages, Associations and Cooperatives. These templates or molds were drafted by Bureau of Education adminstrators or teachers, thus the observation that Alaskan IRA tribes are “federal intrumentalities,” that is, imposed on Alaska Native by the federal government.
Alaskan tribes can reconstruct the IRA organizations into institutions that truly reflect contemporary Native cultural and political values. For the tribes of Southeast Alaska, this would mean revising constitutions to provide for clan representation on tribal councils, with the respective clans electing tribal council representatives, similar to the example set by the Teslin Tlingit Council of Yukon, Canada.