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Warm welcome for AFN convention

  • Author: Julie Kitka
    | Opinion
  • Updated: October 17, 2017
  • Published October 17, 2017

The First Alaskans Institute kicked off their 34th annual Elders and Youth Conference at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center with a Warming of the Hands Pre-Conference on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. (Bill Roth / Alaska Dispatch News)

On behalf of the Alaska Federation of Natives board of directors, staff, delegates and membership, Quyana (thank you) to the Dena'ina people of Southcentral Alaska for welcoming us to their area. We are honored to be gathering for this significant meeting on your land.

The 2017 convention is AFN's 51st statewide gathering. Formed to seek a fair and just settlement to land claims in Alaska, AFN has continued for more than 50 years to serve as the voice of advocacy for the statewide Native community. Our convention is part annual business meeting, part family gathering, part celebration of culture and life, part sharing of information and ideas, and part forum.

Our convention theme, "Strength In Unity: Leadership — Partnerships — Social Justice," underlines the vital importance of unity not only in the Native community but for all Alaskans. To face the many challenges big and small, only a unified effort through sound leadership and equitable partnerships will succeed.

We also owe a big Quyana to our convention sponsors. Without these partners, the convention simply would not be as spectacular.

We would also like to mention the welcoming spirit we have felt in these weeks leading up to the convention. Anchorage community leaders and businesses have been very supportive. A large contingent of volunteers has signed up to help with this big event, with between 4,000 to 5,000 people expected to attend. Bridge Builders of Anchorage is hosting a Welcoming Celebration on Wednesday, Oct. 18, at 6 p.m. at the Egan Center. We hope you can join us.

The convention, while primarily for the Native community, is open to interested Alaskans to attend to observe the discussions and check out the wonderful art and craftwork of the renowned Native Arts Showcase, which runs all three days on the first floor of the Dena'ina Center. It's a great place to get started on your holiday shopping. The entire event along with Quyana Alaska evening cultural performances will be televised on GCI, ARCS and 360 North. Join us online at There will be a live chatroom, so we hope to hear your comments. And of course, #AFN2017.

Thank you, Anchorage, for being a great host city.

Julie Kitka is president of the Alaska Federation of Natives.

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