Associate Attorney General Gupta Visits Alaska to Support Tribal Sovereignty and Public Safety

Associate Attorney General Gupta Visits Alaska to Support Tribal Sovereignty and Public Safety

Associate Attorney General Gupta Visits Alaska to Support Tribal Sovereignty and Public Safety

From October 17 to 20, 2023, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta traveled to Alaska to speak at the Alaska Federation of Natives’ annual convention, meet with Alaska Native and local partners, and reaffirm the Justice Department’s commitment to promoting Tribal sovereignty and to keeping all Alaskans safe.

Outlining Justice Department Commitments to Support Tribal Jurisdiction and Safety: Alaska Federation of Natives 2023 Annual Convention

In remarks to the 2023 Annual Convention of the Alaska Federation of Natives, the Associate Attorney General announced the launch of the Justice Department’s Alaska Pilot Program, along with other Justice Department initiatives, litigation, and grants to support Tribal sovereignty and keep all Alaskans safe.

Meetings with Tribal and Community Leaders, Public Safety Officials, and Advocates in Nome, Alaska

The Associate Attorney General began her trip by traveling to Nome to meet with leaders from local Tribal nonprofit Kawerak, Inc., which represents the 20 Tribes in the Bering Strait Region; the City of Nome; and surrounding Tribal Villages.

She discussed Kawerak’s work to enhance Tribal justice systems, heard about the region’s subsistence-use needs, and learned about Kawerak and other organizations’ work to support survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

She also toured Kawerak’s child advocacy center, which provides resources for minors who are victims of physical or sexual abuse.

The Associate Attorney General also met with officials from the Nome region’s Tribal governments and Tribal associations. She heard from a representative of the Village of Solomon about the importance of addressing the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP).

And she spoke with a Village Public Safety Officer from the Village of Shishmaref about the unique challenges of ensuring public safety in rural Alaska. Finally, she visited Norton Sound Regional Hospital and met with the supervisor of the hospital’s sexual assault medical forensic examination program.

In addition, the Associate Attorney General met with leadership in the City of Nome, including the police chief and city manager, as well as the superintendent of the Anvil Mountain Correctional Center, a local facility.

She engaged with these officials about the importance of recruiting and retaining police officers and other public-safety officials, as well as the need to ensure reentry services for the correctional facility’s incarcerated population.

Meetings with Justice Department Officials, Native Leaders, and Local Legal Community in Anchorage, Alaska

On Thursday, October 19, the Associate Attorney General spent time in Anchorage visiting with the U.S. Attorney’s Office leadership, attorneys, and staff. During her visit, she was briefed on civil and criminal issues arising in Alaska.

She also participated in a fireside chat with U.S. Attorney Tucker at an event hosted by the Federal Bar Association’s Alaska chapter.

In addition, Associate Attorney General Gupta met with leaders of the Alaska Court System’s Eviction Diversion Program, which is employing strategies to avoid contested landlord-tenant litigation.

Associate Attorney General Gupta also attended the second meeting of the Alaska Tribal Public Safety Advisory Committee.

Created by VAWA 2022, the Advisory Committee includes representatives from Alaska Tribes, federal, Tribal, State, and local law enforcement, and Tribal nonprofit organizations.

The Associate Attorney General delivered remarks recognizing the region’s public-safety challenges and expressing the Justice Department’s commitment to partnering with Tribes and Native groups.

On Friday, October 20, the Associate Attorney General held additional meetings with Native leaders, including with representatives from the Association of Village Council Presidents, a nonprofit Tribal consortium supporting the 56 Tribes of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, and the Alaska Native Justice Center, which recently received a Justice Department grant to provide technical assistance to Tribes seeking to exercise the special Tribal criminal jurisdiction authorized in VAWA 2022. The Associate Attorney General also met with family members of Alaska Natives who were victims of the MMIP crisis and who died in state custody.

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