"Native Groups to Meet: Leaders to Gather Together to Talk"

Tundra Times, June 8, 1964, p.1.


A meeting of native organizations has been set to take place in Fairbanks on June 26-27. If more time is needed it will continue through June 28.

The plan of the meeting was formulated by a 4-man planning committee consisting of Alfred Ketzler, chairman of the Dena Nena Henash, interior Alaska Indian organization; Mardow Solomon, president of the Gwitchya Gwitchin Ginkhye, Yukon Flats area organization; Ralph Perdue, president of the Fairbanks Native Association; and Howard Rock, executive secretary of the Inupiat Paitot, Arctic area Eskimo organization.

Unity, Politics Stressed

A need for unity and cooperation among the organizations and the native peoples of Alaska was stressed by the four native leaders and this was expected to be the theme of the Convention of the Native Organizations.

The committee decided that four main subjects will be taken up at the meeting and these are: education, economics, social problems, and the importance of politics as it applies to natives of Alaska. It was evident that the latter may be discussed at length this being election year.

"We have to make a start sometime," one of the men pointed out. "We need to know a great deal more about politics. We have to live with it now and in the future whether we like it or not."

It was decided that political discussions will be strictly limited to the importance of politics to natives. The committee made clear that since there will be several native political candidates among those invited, no campaign speeches will be allowed nor will there be any endorsement of candidates or political parties.

"We should try to point out to our people that politics can serve them if they pursue it wisely." it was pointed out. "Natives have never taken politics too seriously in the past. The meeting should try to clarify the subject for their benefit."

Chairman, Keynoter

Although plans are subject to change between now and the meeting, Nick Gray, vice president of the Cook Inlet Native Association, was tentatively chosen to be chairman. He was also mentioned as a possible keynote speaker.

State Sen. Eben Hopson, Barrow, was also approached to make the keynote speech but he said pressure of work might prevent him from attending the meeting. He said he would deliver the speech if he can get a leave of absence for a few days.

AAIA To Help

The Association on American Indian Affairs, Inc., New York, is slated to give assistance to pay transportation costs of those people invited if they cannot carry the expense themselves. However, those who are able to afford it will be asked to pay for all or part of their expenses.

Due to a technicality and as a safeguard measure of the AAIA's tax exempt status as a nonprofit organization, it was decided that the native political candidates will be asked to pay for all their expenses at the meeting.

The following native politicians have -been invited: Frank Degnan, Unalakleet; Alfred Ketzler, Nenana; Sen. Eben Hopson and John Nusunginya, Barrow; and Max Lieb, Bethel.

Other invited are: Peter Carter, president of the Association of Village Council Presidents, Eek; Guy Okakok, chairman of the Inupiat Paitot; John Hope, grand president of the Alaska Native Brotherhood; Tony Joule, Kotzebue; Alfred Grant, Tanana; and Bernard Nash or Daniel Lisbourne, Point Hope.

Men that will be invited from Minto, Shungnak, and Arctic Native Brotherhood, Nome, will be decided at a later date.

Others Invited

In addition to the above, William Byler, executive director of the Association on American Indian Affairs, Inc. has been invited, as well as Donald Snowden, Chief of Industrial Division, Department of Northern Affairs, Ottawa, Canada. He was asked to invite 14 Eskimo cooperative presidents to come along with him if his government can arrange such a trip.

Snowden was instrumental in starting successful Eskimo fishing cooperative enterprises in northern Canada. He has been asked to give a talk on this subject.

Some other people, possibly from the state government and BIA, are being considered for invitation.

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