WHEREAS, Tanana Chiefs Conference advocates for safe communities across Alaska. Rural villages have often been left out of adequate law enforcement, judicial resources, and subsequent services for decades. With the state fiscal crisis, recently there has been a reduction in rural troopers, village public safety officers, prosecutors and state magistrates as well as funding to provide adequate health and mental health services; and
WHEREAS, rural Alaska has the highest rates of rape, child rape, sexual assault, assault and accidents in the entire nation. Alaska Native children are exposed to multiple forms of violence at rates higher than any other race in the United States, resulting increased rates of altered neurological development, poor physical and mental health, poor school performance, substance abuse, and overrepresentation in the juvenile justice system. Women have reported high rates of sexual assault, domestic violence up to 10 times higher than in the rest of the United States, and physical assault victimization rates up to 12 times higher; and
WHEREAS, less than half of remote Alaskan villages are served by trained State law enforcement entities and several tribes utilize peace officers or tribal police without adequate training or equipment. The lack of effective law enforcement and accessible judicial services in remote Alaska villages contributes significantly to increased crime, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, domestic violence, rates of suicide, poor education achievement, and lack of economic development. The lack of effective law enforcement and accessible judicial services also leads to under-reporting. Victims are often re-traumatized by not obtaining proper justice. Local, state and federal governments fail to properly address this issue while our Native women, children, families
and tribes suffer; and
WHEREAS, prevention and treatment facilities and behavioral health staff are in desperate need across the State of Alaska. While substance abuse is a national epidemic, the impacts on Alaska Native families and therefore the state economy are so severe it should be addressed in specialty programs. Congress has the constitutional authority and responsibility to provide for Alaska Native health care including providing adequate behavioral health services, yet Indian Health Services funding for behavioral health, substance abuse treatment and prevention and domestic violence prevention is significantly underfunded. Alaska Native young people and teenagers are especially at-risk, because of the rapidly changing world they are growing up in, one where Western culture is prioritized over their own Alaska Native culture. These added risks place Alaska Native youth at greater risk of engaging in violent activity, developing alcohol and
drug problems, and dropping out of school, yet the treatment services for youth are limited, resulting in youth continuing these destructive habits into adulthood. Therefore services and treatment for Alaska Native youth should focus on integrating and affirming Alaska Native culture and recognizing it as an important tool to heal individuals.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Tanana Chiefs Conference Full Board of Directors demand proper public safety, behavioral health services and treatment for rural Alaska through:
- The passage of legislation confirming the governmental authority of Alaska Native tribes over all persons within their communities without regard to land ownership; and
- Enhanced access to funds to support the operation of tribal governments, tribal courts and tribal law enforcement personnel; and
- Continued reform of the criminal justice system through keeping low level criminal defendants out of jail and into treatment centers; and
- Culturally appropriate re-entry services to address recidivism rates including for felons; and
- Significantly more behavior health, substance abuse treatment and prevention and domestic violence prevention supported by Congress and the Indian Health Service.
Submitted by: Tanana Tribal Council
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