State, tribes say theyre close to agreement

Posted: Friday, November 03, 2000

KENAI (AP) -- A spokesman for the group working to establish government-to-government relations between Alaska Native tribes and the state says an agreement is in sight.

The ''Millennium Agreement'' is scheduled for adoption at the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council's convention later this month in Anchorage.

AITC Chair Mike Williams, a longtime Iditarod musher, characterized the meeting this week as the group's ''last checkpoint.''

''The finish line is just up the street in Anchorage in 30 days,'' he said.

Attorney General Bruce Botelho, the state's co-chairman of the team, said the group had made substantial progress despite ''bumps in the road.''

''And we've made some friends out of it,'' he said. ''Government and Natives don't have to see eye to eye on everything, even important things, to have a good relationship.''

He said the two groups have developed a reservoir of good will that they could take back to their respective governments and draw from in dealing with each other.

The tribal negotiating team is made up of 46 Natives from tribes across the state. The tribes are led by Joe Williams of Saxman, who serves as co-chair of the team with Botelho.

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