State signs agreement with Tlingit, Haida group

JUNEAU, Alaska — Gov. Sean Parnell has signed an agreement aimed at strengthening the working relationship between the state and tribes in southeast Alaska.

Parnell on Monday signed the agreement with Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, which was represented by council President Richard Peterson, the Juneau Empire ( ) reported.

The council represents more than 29,000 Tlingit and Haida Indians worldwide. It’s important for the council to “get some of our people in decision-making positions in the governor’s office,” Peterson said.

“Political leaders have to respond to what our people are wanting,” he said.

The agreement will be in effect for three years unless ended sooner. The scope is broad, said Randy Ruaro, special counsel to the governor.

The state and the council agree to improve existing relationships in family and social services, public safety and children’s services. The council operates the region’s village public safety program with support from the state.

The two sides identified areas for new partnerships such as economic development, education, energy, transportation and job training.

The agreement outlines resolutions each entity will take. They are aimed at improving communication and collaboration to better meet needs of Panhandle residents.

“It is with great respect that together we sign this memorandum of agreement that you see before us,” Parnell said before signing the documents. “We will continue working on our shared values on behalf of all Alaskans. . I really think this will take us to an even higher level of communication, coordination and cooperation.”

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