"Interior Indians Meet: Conference on Problems, Revived Festival to Draw Many Alaskans This Week"

Tundra Times, June 3, 1963, p.1.


Charter Planes

Special Guests

Serious Problem

Opening Day

Second Day

Third Day

Historic Tanana this week will host two important meetings — the second Tanana Indian Conference and the Nuchalawoyya, an ancient festival revived last year.

Delegates from about 30 villages are expected to gather for the 3-day conference on native problems and affairs, according to Alfred Ketzler, chairman of the Dena Nena Henash, Interior Indian organization.

Subjects to be discussed at the meeting, starting Wednesday and lasting through Friday, include economic development, land claims, education, and the proposed Rampart Dam.

Immediately thereafter will begin the Nuchalawoyya, featuring games and festivities such as native dancing, foot races, canoe racing, walking a greasy pole across a creek, and Indian arm wrestling.

Charter Planes

A special charter plane will take about 35 persons to Tanana from Fairbanks on Tuesday for the conference, and a charter flight from Anchorage will take about 30 persons for the weekend festival.

Also on hand for the Indian conference will be many state and federal officials.

Altogether it is estimated that there may be 150 visitors at Tanana this week and the figure may run higher.

Many visitors in light planes from nearby communities are expected to visit this settlement at the confluence of the Tanana and Yukon rivers during the week.

Special Guests

Many special guests have been invited, including Robert L. Bennett, area director of the BIA in Alaska; Lester Oliver, tribal chairman of the White River Apaches; William Paul, Sr., president of the Alaska Native Brotherhood; and Graham E. Holmes, Assistant Commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (Legislation).

James Gamble of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Washington, D.C., who was invited to the meeting, has indicated he will not be able to attend because of Senate hearings which he must attend this week.

Other guests who will attend are:

Steve Hotch, Klukwan, 1st vice president of the Alaska Native Brotherhood; Mrs. Joseph (Elizabeth) Williams, Saxman, grand president of the Alaska Native Sisterhood.

William Byler, executive director, Association on American Indian Affairs; Theodore Hetzel of the Indian Rights Association, Philadelphia; Ross Miller, Industrial Development, BIA, Alaska.

Frank Anderson, BIA economic development officer, Fairbanks District; Neal Jenson, Housing Development Officer, BIA, Juneau; and Arthur Nagozruk, BIA tribal operations officer.

Roscoe E. Bell, head of the State Division of Lands, Anchorage; Colonel Kenneth Sawyer, chief of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska.

Delegates from the following places have indicated they will attend: Nenana, Chalkytsik, Holy Cross, Galena, Tanana, Nulato, Gulkana, Venetie, Koyukuk, Nicholai, Northway, Kaltag, Canyon Village, Beaver, Koyuk, Dot Lake, Mentasta, Minto, Arctic Village, Ft. Yukon, Cantwell, Bettles Field, Metlakatla, Birch Creek, and Fairbanks.

Some villages are sending more than one delegate, but each village will have only one vote, according to Al Ketzler.

Serious Problem

"Much was accomplished at our meeting last year because it brought our problems in the open," said Ketzler.

"It made the public aware that we do have serious problems."

"The forthcoming conference will be devoted to working on solutions to those problems," Ketzler said.

Opening Day

On Wednesday, delegates and guests will be introduced and the agenda and organizational plans will be explained. A four-man committee will be appointed to draft bylaws and a constitution for the Dena Nena Henash organization.

Later, chairman Ketzler will report on action and progress resulting from the 1962 conference also held at Tanana.

Wednesday afternoon the bylaws will be presented for ratification, officers will be elected and seated, and village reports will be heard of problems arising since last year's meeting. Committees in various areas will also be appointed.

Second Day

On Thursday, Lester Oliver, tribal chairman of the White River Apaches, will speak on "Economic Development" and William Paul, grand president emeritus of the ANB, will review the recent Alaska Task Force Report and speak on native land claims.

William Byler, executive director of the Association on American Indian Affairs, will speak on the Council on Indian Affairs.

Thursday afternoon will be consumed by committee sessions. Committees, as last year, will write a statement to be distributed to news media and the general public.

Third Day

Friday, the statement and recommended plan of action will be read, the grand president emeritus of the permanent committees of the Dena Nena Henash will be appointed, and addresses by special guests will be heard.

A big authentic native potlatch will conclude the conference and signal the beginning of the Nuchalawoyya festival.

Housing for about 30 delegates has been arranged in private homes at Tanana and about 30 bunks for men will be set up in the old Northern Commercial Co. warehouse. Visitors are requested to bring sleeping bags.

During the conference the Women's Auxiliary of the St. James Episcopal Church will serve meals for about $4 per day per person. The Nuchalawoyya committee, comprised of about 25 persons will serve meals during the weekend festival.

Also for the convenience of persons at Tanana will be the "Ramona," a floating grocery store. The store, which serves villages up and down the Yukon River, will be operated by the delegates from Nulato, Claud Demientieff.

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