Resolution 2020-16: To Establish Official Protocol, Law Enforcement Response Standards and Proper Facilities in Rural Alaska for the Deceased

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WHEREAS, Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) is an Alaska Native tribal health and social services consortium established by the Interior Alaska tribes and tribal communities, to provide a unified voice in advancing sovereign tribal governments through the promotion of physical and mental wellness, education, socioeconomic development and culture of the Interior Alaska Native; and

WHEREAS, In rural villages there are significantly more fatal accidents and criminal activities that lead to death, per capita than experienced in urban Alaska; and

WHEREAS, Law enforcement response time in rural villages is not adequate to meet the needs of the deceased and the community impacts of the death(s); and

WHEREAS, Inadequate and untimely law enforcement response to potential crime scenes creates barriers to justice and prevents decency for the recently deceased; and

WHEREAS, The lack of official responsibilities and duties with associated deadlines creates tremendous burdens on the rural communities; and

WHEREAS, The lack of adequate facilities and infrastructure, in addition to climate change are contributing factors increasing the onset of early decomposition of the deceased; and

WHEREAS, Many villages have insufficient facilities to hold a deceased body that awaits law enforcement response and/or flights; and

WHEREAS, In some situations it can be several days before a deceased body is sent to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Anchorage; and

WHEREAS, In many Interior villages, a culturally preferred funeral service includes viewing an open casket for healing and grieving purposes, and the likelihood for an open casket is significantly decreased when there is a
lack of appropriate response and village holding facility.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Tanana Chiefs Conference Full Board of Directors direct the Tribal Development Planning division staff to include in community plans, facilities for the deceased and assist the
tribes to seek grant funding for this purpose; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED TCC staff work with state officials to create a protocol detailing the proper handling of the deceased to include law enforcement responsibilities and deadlines; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that TCC staff work with the Department of Public Safety to improve response time to rural villages to insure the deceased are kept in a preserved state so the remains are given decency, respect and may have the proper cultural burial.

Submitted by: Kaltag Tribal Council


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