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Alaska governor signs Native language bill six months after bill passed


Last updated 12/4/2014 at 10:04am


Alaska's governor chose to delay signing the language bill into law in order to sign it at the AFN convention in Anchorage. Many elders were present for the signing, legislation they waited their whole lives for.

JUNEAU, AK-Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell finally signed a Native language bill, six months after lawmakers approved it.

House Bill 216 designates 20 Native languages as official in Alaska. Parnell intentionally delayed signing it into law in order to present it during the Alaska Federation of Natives convention held October 23-25 in Anchorage.

"It passed in April," Georgianna Lincoln, an AFN board member and former state lawmaker, told The Alaska Dispatch News. "One half a year later he wants the signing at the AFN convention? Now isn't that politics?"

Parnell, who ran for reelection, was on the agenda for the AFN convention's opening session. But the signing took place away from the main convention.

"It seems like it took on a life of its own on social media, with people inviting other people and so on," AFN President Julie Kitka told the News. The ceremony was held in another room at the Dena'ina Center, where the convention was held.


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