Northwest Arctic Leadership Team Welcomes State, Federal and Alaska Native Dignitaries
Feb. 16, 2015 –KOTZEBUE, AK –U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel; U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan; Congressman Don Young; Alaska Governor Bill Walker and Lt. Governor Byron Mallot; and members of the Alaska Legislature are meeting today in Kotzebue with the Northwest Arctic Leadership Team (NWALT) to discuss Arctic policy issues and tour sections of the Northwest Arctic Borough (NAB).
“The Iñupiat of Northwest Alaska are at the forefront of the opportunities and challenges of an opening Arctic,” said NWALT Co-chair and NAB Mayor Reggie Joule. “Today is an unprecedented occasion for our people to engage in an important dialogue with our federal and state partners. As we speak with them, we will stress our need to maintain food security, responsibly develop our lands, and make the most of what is happening. We have much to offer the world, and we’re excited to share that information today.”
As part of the scheduled events, a delegation of officials and members of the press will tour the communities of Noatak and Kivalina, the Red Dog Mine area and the Noatak National Preserve. NWALT partners and regional tribes will also have several consultation opportunities with federal and state officials. In the evening, the community of Kotzebue will hold a celebration in honor of the visitors.
“There’s been a good deal of build up to this meeting,” said Tim Schuerch, Maniilaq president and NWALT co-chair. “But, we are a people known for our hospitality and cooperation. We look forward to honoring our guests tonight and sharing our culture with them.”
Following the NWALT day, the Secretary, Alaska Delegation, Governor Walker, Lt. Governor Mallot and other officials will attend the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) annual retreat in Kotzebue from Feb. 17 – 18. The AFN meetings are not open to the public or press.
The Northwest Arctic Leadership Team (NWALT) is a partnership between Maniilaq Association, NANA Regional Corporation, Inc. (NANA), the Northwest Arctic Borough (NAB), and the Northwest Arctic Borough School District (NWBSD), maximizes resources and reduces duplication of efforts to address issues affecting the people of Northwest Alaska while honoring and perpetuating our Iñupiat cultural heritage.
ABOUT NORTHWEST ALASKA:
The Northwest Arctic Borough, also known as the NANA region, is a vast: 38,000 square miles area, most of which is above the Arctic Circle. More than 86 percent of the region’s residents are Iñupiat, descendants of the people who inhabited the land for thousands of years. It encompasses eleven villages: Ambler, Buckland, Deering, Kiana, Kivalina, Kobuk, Kotzebue, Noatak, Noorvik, Selawik and Shungnak.