Over 300 Native leaders are expected in Petersburg this fall for the annual Grand Camp of the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Alaska Native Sisterhood. Organizers of the event are asking Petersburg’s borough government to donate meeting space at the community gym for the event in early October.
A letter from representatives of the ANB and ANS in Petersburg asks the borough to donate the community gym October 7th through October 11th for out-of-town delegates from Oregon to Anchorage. That letter highlights the potential economic boost for the community.
The two organizations strive for civil rights, better lives and sharing of cultural knowledge for Natives. They welcome both Natives and non-Natives into their organization.
At Tuesday’s meeting, assembly member John Hoag said he was torn on the issue. “On the one hand the folks that have requested this have been a good neighbor and they provide a lot of worth to the community and we all benefit from it whether we are members of their organization or not. On the other hand Donnie has written a pretty good memo asking us if we’re gonna start making exceptions how and where are we going to be consistent.”
Hoag was referring to a list of questions drafted by Parks and Recreation director Donnie Hayes. He wondered about costs to the borough, loss of other revenue and setting a precedent. Hayes estimated the cost of the rental to be under one thousand dollars and asked to work with the organizers to come up with an acceptable fee for the space.
Ross Nannauck III, president of the ANB’s camp 16, said various federal, state and regional officials were expected to attend. “It’s a very big thing and the last time we had a convention here was 1971. And I believe it was held down at the Sons of Norway Hall. So it’s been a while. And it’s something we’ve been working towards for a long time. It takes a lot of work and a lot of effort to make this a successful event.”
Assembly members agreed they needed more information wanted Hayes to work with Nannauck to come up with an acceptable fee. The vote was unanimous to table the issue and the assembly will bring it up again at a later date.