Alaska Legislature passes bill to formally recognize tribes

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Legislature has passed a measure to formally recognize tribes in the state.

The House on Tuesday voted 37-2 to accept a Senate version of the bill that passed last week. The bill next goes to Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

Supporters of the bill say it is an overdue step that would create opportunities for the state and tribes to work together.

The measure is similar to an initiative that was slated to go before voters later this year. The ballot group, Alaskans for Better Government, said the bill and initiative are “functionally identical and were written to serve the same purpose – to have the State permanently recognize the 229 federally-recognized Tribes in Alaska.”

Initiatives that qualify for the ballot can be bumped if the Legislature passes substantially similar legislation first. The campaign group in a statement said it anticipates that will be the case here.