Alaska Life

Alaska Federation of Natives convention opens Thursday in Anchorage

The Alaska Federation of Natives convention starts Thursday at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage and runs through Saturday. The annual gathering was held virtually in 2021 and 2020, so the theme of “Celebrating Our Unity” is fitting as it returns to an in-person event.

The Alaska Federation of Natives is the state’s largest Native organization and includes 158 federally recognized tribes, 141 village corporations, 10 regional corporations and 12 regional nonprofit and tribal consortiums.

The convention operates as a forum for debate and policy development for the Alaska Native community and includes a number of cultural presentations and events.

The Alaska Native Customary Art Fair has developed into a longtime tradition at AFN, with artists from both Alaska and the Lower 48 gathering to showcase their work. The fair will be held at the Dena’ina Center on Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The AFN Exhibit Fair runs from Thursday through Saturday and includes over 100 exhibitors, from various organizations to political campaigns and state agencies.

Quyana Alaska started in 1982 as an opportunity to both showcase traditional dance and pass the cultural experience to future generations. It has expanded to two nights with 14 groups from throughout the state.

Tickets will be sold on the first floor of the Dena’ina Center for $10 each starting Thursday morning. The performances run from 7 to 11 p.m. on both Thursday and Friday.


The AFN Banquet puts a cap on the weekend, celebrating Indigenous cultures and reflecting on the week’s work. The banquet is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday at the Dena’ina Center. Tickets are $100 each or $1,200 per table, with each table seating 10. Entertainment for the banquet includes Marc Brown and the Blues Crew as well as an Indigenous Fashion Show, featuring a number of talented Native designers.

Masks are recommended and will be provided, but there are no COVID-19 vaccination or negative test requirements for entry.

The convention can also be viewed via livestream at

Alaska Federation of Natives convention schedule


8:30 a.m.: Alaska Native Heritage Dancers

9 a.m.: Welcome, opening remarks and national anthem

9:40 a.m.: Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy

10:10 a.m.: Introduction of special international Indigenous leaders

10:20 a.m.: AFN President’s Report

10:40 a.m.: Special guest speaker Deb Haaland, U.S. Interior secretary

11 a.m.: Keynote address, U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola

11:30 a.m.: Citizen of the Year and Denali Awards

12:30 p.m.: Qasgirmiut Dancers

1 p.m.: Call to order afternoon session

1:05 p.m.: Various reports, including Preliminary Credentials Report and COVID-19 Report

1:45 p.m.: AFN’s Navigator Program: Guiding Native communities to the post-pandemic investments they deserve

2:20 p.m.: Federal broadband update


2:40 p.m.: Micro nuclear reactor opportunities in Alaska

3 p.m.: ANCSA Regional Association and Alaska Native Village Corporation Association organization updates

3:20 p.m.: Alaska’s self-determination: Opportunities and successes

4:20 p.m.: Alaska Bush Caucus update

4:40 p.m.: Roselyn Tso, director, Indian Health Service

5 p.m.: 2022 Tribal Conference Report

5:20 p.m.: Alaska Historical Society’s Native Claims Act Research Guide



8:30 a.m.: Kingikmiut Singers & Dancers

9 a.m.: Call to order

9:05 a.m.: AFN co-chair candidate presentations

9:25 a.m.: U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, chairman, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (virtual)

9:35 a.m.: U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan

9:55 a.m.: Transforming Alaska’s child welfare system: Five years of the Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Compact

10:30 a.m.: Special recognition of state Sen. Lyman Hoffman, Sen. Gary Stevens and Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky for public service

10:45 a.m.: Dr. Alondra Nelson, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

11 a.m.: Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies

11:30 a.m.: Alaska military leadership presentations

12:30 p.m.: Ida’ina K’eljeshna Dance Group

1 p.m.: Call to order afternoon session and Final Credentials Report


1:05 p.m.: 2022 Elders and Youth Conference Report

1:25 p.m.: Alaska Native boarding schools, structural violence and historical healing

1:55 p.m.: U.S. Department of Treasury update

2:05 p.m.: U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski

2:25 p.m.: Pat Pitney, president of the University of Alaska

2:55 p.m.: The future of Alaska Native education


3:15 p.m.: Celebrating Indigenous leadership in Congress

3:30 p.m.: Tracy Toulou, director of the Office of Tribal Justice, Department of Justice

3:40 p.m.: Missing and murdered Indigenous people work update

4 p.m.: Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Daniel Winfree

4:20 p.m.: Robert L. Santos, director, U.S. Census Bureau

4:30 p.m.: AFN President’s Awards


8:30 a.m.: Anchorage Northern Lights Dancers

9 a.m.: Call to order morning session

9:05 a.m.: Various reports from Alyeska Pipeline Services, USDA and Smithsonian

9:45 a.m.: AFN statewide candidates forum

11:45 a.m.: Get out the Native vote

1 p.m.: Call to order afternoon session

1:05 p.m.: Announcement of AFN village representatives and election of 2022 AFN co-chair

1:20 p.m.: Consideration of 2022 AFN convention resolutions