2023 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. Last year was the first return to an in-person convention after virtual gatherings were held in in 2021 and 2020. The theme for this year’s convention is “Our Ways of Life,” reflecting fundamental principles of Indigenous people across Alaska.

The Alaska Federation of Natives is the state’s largest Native organization and includes 209 federally recognized tribes, 185 village corporations, nine regional corporations and 10 regional nonprofit and tribal consortiums. It represents more than 140,000 Native people, almost 20% of the state’s population.

The convention operates as a forum for debate and policy development for the Alaska Native community and includes several cultural presentations and events. It is free and open to the public, so no registration is required to attend.

On Wednesday, AFN unveiled its Alaska Native Veteran photo exhibit on the third floor of the Dena’ina Center. The display will be open Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Project photographer Bill Hess will also have a photo booth set up during the convention, where Alaska Native veterans can have their photos taken for free. These photos will also be displayed during the convention as well.

The Alaska Native Customary Art Fair is a tradition at AFN, with artists from Alaska and the Lower 48 showcasing their work. The fair will be on the first and second floors at the Dena’ina Center on Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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

Quyana Alaska started in 1982 as an opportunity to showcase traditional dance and pass the cultural experience to future generations. It has expanded to two nights with more than 10 groups from throughout the state.


Tickets are no longer available online, but they’ll be sold on the first floor of the Dena’ina Center for $10 each starting at 9 a.m. Thursday. The performances run from 7 to 10 p.m. on 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 and Martin Paul, a Yup’ik social media influencer and musician. The emcee for the event is Nick Hanson, the first Iñuit to compete on the TV show “American Ninja Warrior.”

[Ahead of convention, Alaska Federation of Natives proposes Congress move to permanently protect rural priority for subsistence fishing]

Travel discounts are available for lodging and with an Alaska Airlines discount code. Delegates can ride the People Mover city bus in Anchorage for free during the convention.

The convention can also be viewed via livestream at

Alaska Federation of Natives convention schedule


8:30 a.m.: Qasgirmiut Dancers

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

9:40 a.m.: Introduction of AFN Board of Directors

9:45 a.m.: Keynote Address from Sophie Minich, CEO of Cook Inlet Region Inc., and Ryan Redington, 2023 Iditarod champion

10:15 a.m.: Denali and Citizen of the Year Awards

10:40 a.m.: AFN President’s Report

10:50 a.m.: Transformation in Education

11:30 a.m.: The Important Role of Storytelling in Strengthening Our Communities

Noon: Plenary session recess

12:30 p.m.: Iñugialiŋmiut Dance Group of Tikiġaq

1 p.m.: Call to order afternoon session, preliminary credentials report


1:05 p.m.: U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina

1:20 p.m.: 2023 Elders and Youth Conference report

1:30 p.m.: Report from the AFN Strategic Planning Session in August, facilitated by the Foraker Group

1:40 p.m.: Native to Native Leadership Panel

3 p.m.: Open mic — Q&A

4:20 p.m.: Summary wrap-up

4:30 p.m.: Recess

[Quannah’s connection: Model and activist makes a different sort of appearance at Elders and Youth Conference]



8:30 a.m.: Barrow Dancers

9 a.m.: Call to order, invocation and recognition of major sponsors

9:05 a.m.: U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska

9:15 a.m.: AFN Co-Chair Candidate Presentations

9:25 a.m.: AFN President’s Awards

10:25 a.m.: Honoring the Legacy of Shirley Demientieff

10:30 a.m.: U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland

10:45 a.m.: Casey Sixkiller, EPA regional administrator

10:55 a.m.: Vanita Gupta, U.S. associate attorney general

11:05 a.m.: Department of Energy’s Role in the Arctic

11:35 a.m.: AFN Legislative & Litigation Committee report


11:45 a.m.: The Covenant House of Alaska video

11:50 a.m.: U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska

Noon: Plenary session recess

12:30 p.m.: Lower Yukon Drummers & Dancers

1 p.m.: Call to order and final credentials report

1:05 p.m.: Convention forum: Knowledge Sharing — Salmon Crisis, Climate Change, and Hunting & Fishing


4 p.m.: Forum wrap-up

4:30 p.m.: Recess


9 a.m.: Call to order, invocation and recognition of major sponsors

9:05 a.m.: Announcement of AFN Village Representatives and election of 2023 AFN Co-Chair

9:10 a.m.: Special report: Section 29 update

9:20 a.m.: Alaska Bush Caucus

9:35 a.m.: Consideration of 2023 AFN Convention Resolutions

Noon: Plenary session recess

12:30 p.m.: Chevak Tanqik Dancers

1 p.m.: Call to order

1:05 p.m.: Contributions to Our Ways of Life: Alaska Native Veterans & Military Service Speak Out

2:15 p.m.: Sharing Knowledge on Returning of Significant Cultural Artifacts

2:30 p.m.: Alaska state Sen. Forrest Dunbar

2:35 p.m.: U.S. Rep. Mary Sattler Peltola, D-Alaska

2:55 p.m.: Introduction of new AFN Board Members

3 p.m.: Closing comments and benediction

3:30 p.m.: Adjournment