The Commission's Process
On September 2, 2004, the U.S. Attorney General formally appointed nine individuals to serve on the Commission (100k PDF), to be led by a federal co-chair, the United States Attorney for the District of Alaska, and a state co-chair, the Attorney General for the State of Alaska. The enabling legislation also authorized the Chief Judge for the Federal District Court for the District of Alaska to appoint a representative.
Between 2004 and 2012, the Commission: gathered testimony and analyzed information obtained from rural Alaska residents, government leaders and experts; fostered intergovernmental communication and coordination; conducted educational forums; and advocated for the use of creative approaches to reduce barriers to intergovernmental communication and cooperation. The Commission's 2006 Initial Report and Recommendations and January 2012 Report to the United States Congress and the Alaska State Legislature encompass its recommendations, which aim to reduce intergovernmental conflict and foster cooperative approaches that will better serve all Alaskans.
From its inception in 2004 until January 2012, the Commission:
- Conducted hearings between 2004-2005, gathering vital testimony from residents of remote Alaska communities, law enforcement personnel and experts, judicial officers and government representatives;
- Established four workgroups comprised of a wide variety of professionals, experts, judicial officers, government officials and rural residents to review testimony and recommend options that would address the challenges identified within the four areas that comprise the Commission's charge: domestic violence and child abuse; law enforcement; alcohol interdiction; and judicial services. These workgroups met weekly from January through April 2005;
- Reviewed over 100 options developed by these workgroups as responses to some of the challenges facing rural Alaska communities;
- Issued an Initial Report and Recommendations in 2006 that contained nine categories of recommendations based upon the 100 options developed by the workgroups;
- Testified before the Alaska State Legislature and statewide organizations to regarding its Initial Report and Recommendations;
- Established four new, smaller work groups directed to focus on detailed recommendations regarding specific options identified by the Commission;
- Drafted a template for a cross-jurisdictional tribal-state agreement to be used in cases involving the Indian Child Welfare Act;
- Conducted an educational retreat for the Alaska State Legislature in January 2009 to provide key information about the application of Federal Indian law in Alaska and discuss options for development of more effective communication, coordination, and collaboration between all governments and service agencies and organizations, including the federally recognized tribes and the State of Alaska;
- Conducted a Tribal-State Dialogue in July 2011 that brought together invited leaders from the State's Executive Branch, State Legislature and Alaska Native community to discuss ways in which to improve upon tribal-state relationships;
- Met regularly to analyze problems and propose solutions that will foster intergovernmental communication and reduce barriers to cooperation and collaboration; and
- Issued a Report to the United States Congress and the Alaska State Legislature in January 2012.