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Native leaders promise a modern AFN

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Posted: Sunday, October 21, 2012 11:49 am | Updated: 11:39 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Leaders of the Alaska Federation of Natives say work is under way to overhaul and modernize the 46-year-old organization.

Saturday's announcement followed warnings by some AFN member organizations that they might withhold dues unless changes were made. One group, Cook Inlet Tribal Council, has refused to pay convention dues until it sees action on restructuring, according to the Anchorage Daily News (

The tribal council is among more than 400 organizations that AFN represents, AFN president Julie Kitka said.

"The big thing," she said, is that AFN is undertaking a reorganization and that "everything is on the table right now."

Members have called for more tribal seats on the AFN board, changes to the convention voting process and term limits for federation leaders.

The overhaul announcement came on the final day of the annual AFN convention.

Earlier attempts to rewrite federation bylaws failed despite a 2009 convention resolution that called for restructuring by 2011.

AFN board member Gregory Razo said a prior AFN committee worked for two years develop specific changes, but the board voted earlier this year against making the recommended amendments. Kitka said one obstacle was an attempt to increase the size of the board from 37 people to 48 in hopes of adding seats for tribes and at-large members.

"People thought it was too expensive," Kitka said.

Other changes under consideration now include inviting additional regional health corporations into the organization.

Placing tribes on equal footing with other AFN members is among the top priorities for Aaron Schutt, president and CEO of Fairbanks-based Doyon Limited. Efforts to modernize the federation have been in motion for several years, he said.

"I think it's just a process of evolution that we all go through in organizations," he said.

Several groups wrote letters of concern t o the AFN board, prompting a special meeting in September and creation of a 15-member executive committee, Razo said. The committee plans to propose changes to the federation bylaws or structure in December.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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