Self-Governance IS Sovereignty

It is OUTRAGEOUS to me that a handful of Tribes have argued and convinced a Judge in a Washington DC-based US District Court that their Tribal Sovereignty is more valid than our sovereign right that we exercise in Alaska; Self-Governance. 

The definition of Sovereignty is the full right and power of a governing body over itself, without any interference from outside sources or bodies.

In Alaska, we have not filed a lawsuit to reduce the jurisdictional authority of Tribes with a land base in the Lower 48.

We can argue that Lower 48 reservation Tribes with jurisdiction based on geographically marked borders are given unfair sovereignty preference than what Alaska Natives are afforded.

We are structurally different than the lower 48 tribes. We exercised our sovereign right to organize differently than what was forced on Lower 48 Tribes.

Sovereigns demand immunity in one hand. In the other, they then negate the purpose of sovereignty by looking “UP” to the federal court to hand “DOWN” a decision on how we define these terms.

If Tribes are truly sovereign, then they are already empowered to convene internal mediation/negotiation among the parties in question.

This legal action taken against Alaska Native Corporations reaffirms the foresight our leaders had in deciding the way Alaska Natives would organize.

Our leaders exercised our sovereign rights to self-govern.

We didn’t ask the government for their definition of us.

We didn’t ask for a federal court to hand DOWN a decision on who we are.

The definition of Self-governanceself-government, or self-rule is the ability of a group or individual to exercise all necessary functions of regulation without intervention from an external authority. (In the context of nation-states, selfgovernance is called national sovereignty which is an important concept in international law).

In Alaska, we are not centralized under the lower 48 umbrella of Tribal Reservation. We chose a system that worked in Alaska and continues to evolve as we assert our rights of self-governance.

As an Alaska Native, the judge’s decision makes me feel diminished and less than.

Our form of self-governance, exercising our sovereignty in Alaska, has been attacked by other Native people.

Wasn’t the purpose of what was created in Alaska to make individual Native people feel whole?

Native on Native fighting seems is the most effective tool to marginalize ourselves as a whole. Divide and Conquer – but now we are doing that to ourselves and inviting outside authorities to intervene. Sad.

Published by Trudy Sobocienski

My blog, "Beyond Leadership" is a creative place to share my personal feelings and thoughts while working in leadership roles for a variety of Alaska Native organizations, both for and not-for profit entities. An incredible leader and mentor of mine once asked while we were in Washington, DC, "What happened to you between the ages of 7-10 that motivated you to serve in a native leadership capacity". I was struck by that poignant thought and as such, include actual entries from my mother and my diaries beginning in the early 1970's. I enjoy sharing these excerpts because it captures the parallels she and I were experiencing throughout life, from two separate worldviews. Hers as a young mother of four and mine as her eldest child. I have never came across a book on leadership that lays bare a leaders personal feelings, thoughts, hopes, fears and dreams they were experiencing. So for me, my goal is two-fold: 1. Share the incredible life my parents created for my siblings and I growing up in remote Alaska; and, 2) Sharing my humanity, through my personal diaries and journals, while serving as the youngest-ever President/CEO for the Alaska Native Health Board. There are passages that will include significant policy issues I was working on throughout my career and travels. There are many more passages that do not. I cannot speak for my mom's passages, because I am reading them as I share them here, with you; with her permission of course.

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