Native Alaskans to examine issues during convention

Food. Land. Money. Fuel.

The Alaska Federation of Natives convention launches this morning in Anchorage, promising a complex look at the law and politics surrounding those basic village needs.

"Energy pretty much dominated last year," said AFN President Julie Kitka. "And I would think this year tribal issues, subsistence, energy, healthy communities, sustainable economies — those will be the ones that dominate this year."

The convention is expected to draw roughly 4,200 people from cities, towns and villages across Alaska, according to the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau. Held at the Dena'ina convention center, it's the largest annual convention of any kind in the state, said Jeanette Anderson-Moores, vice president of communications for the visitors bureau.

Evelyn Karmun, of Kotzebue, sat on a bench in the center lobby Wednesday as the first of roughly 1,000 voting delegates signed up for the meeting. Outside, a man from Nenana sold dried salmon strips for $15 a bag. Another sang home-made country songs, an open guitar case at his feet.

An Inupiat with a four vertical lines tattooed on her chin — an homage to tradition and elders inked in Fairbanks a few years ago — Karmun came to Anchorage days early to shop. Clothes, winter gear and food all cost far more in her hometown, 550 miles away.

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