The Alaska Federation of Natives is the largest statewide Native organization in Alaska. Members include 186 federally recognized tribes, 177 village corporations, 12 regional corporations and 12 nonprofit and tribal consortiums. The federation advocates for the Alaska Native people and promotes an understanding of the economic needs of Alaska Natives.
The AFN was founded in 1966, eight years after Alaska claimed its statehood. It was the first statewide group organized to advocate for Native land claims. In addition to achieving a united stand regarding land claims, the meeting was important in identifying Natives as a significant political force, according to the Native Federation website.
From Oct. 18 – 20 this year, the AFN held their annual convention in Anchorage. The convention serves as the “principal forum and voice for the Alaska Native community in addressing critical issues of public policy and government,” according to the Native Federation website.
The accompanying trade show features artists and exhibitors showcasing Native Arts. More than 6,000 delegates, participants, observers, vendors and visitors attend annually, accounting for an estimated economic impact on Anchorage of more than $6 million, according to the Native Federation website.
Alaska Native and American Indian artwork are showcased to promote the artists themselves and celebrate the unique art forms and cultures. Cultural performances take place during the convention, known as Quyana Alaska. The conference theme this year was “Innovation in the Past, Present and Future.”
Throughout the convention, delegates discuss opportunities and challenges facing the community and discuss reports from political leaders. The convention is the largest representative annual gathering in the United States of Native peoples.
Photos by Chase Burnett