The Alaska Federation of Natives board of directors today decided that the 2020 Annual Convention will be virtual, citing on-going COVID-19 health and safety concerns. There will be no in-person component to the Convention, which was to be held in Anchorage at the Dena’ina Center this October.
The virtual convention, scheduled for October 15 and 16, 2020, will feature a combination of live presentations and pre-recorded videos of top local, state, federal, and Native leaders and elected officials, a keynote address by Alaska House Speaker Representative Bryce Edgmon (I), interactive panels, AFN President’s Awards, and much more. The Convention will be viewable statewide via television, on KNBA radio, on social media and video platforms, and webcast. The popular cultural performances known as “Quyana Alaska” will be presented over two evenings as a “best of” review show, using previously recorded performances.
“It was a really tough decision, but the health and safety of our delegates, participants, and attendees comes first,” said Julie Kitka, AFN President. “The high risk factors of holding a large, indoor meeting, with lots of Elders and delegates coming in from across Alaska, far outweigh the benefits of gathering in person.”
“Our people gathering and sharing with each other is an important aspect of our Convention. We will miss it,” said Sheri Buretta, AFN Board Member and Chair of the Convention Committee. “But just as the rest of the world has had to do, we are adapting to extraordinary times and hopeful for the future.”
The theme for the 2020 Convention is “Good Government, Alaskans Decide,” in a nod toward Census 2020 and the upcoming elections. “Never has the need for responsive, transparent governance been more apparent than this year, with the COVID-19 global pandemic continuing to impact all Alaska communities,” Kitka said.