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Willie Qassayuli Kasayulie
Willie Qassayuli Kasayulie

Willie Qassayuli Kasayulie was interviewed on October 10, 2005 by Louann Rank, Mary Frederick, Frank Chingliak, Sophie Kasayulie and Marla Statscewich at the Yupiit School District's "Blue Building" in Akiachak, Alaska. In this interview, Willie talks about the history and formation of tribal government in Akiachak, from the dissolution of a municipal government to recognition by the State of Alaska to involvement with the United Nations International Working Group of Indigenous Populations. He also talks about the impacts of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), the separation of business and politics, community planning, and the effort to establish the Yupiit School District in order to control their own education and preserve and document Yup'ik language, culture and traditional laws.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2004-07-35

Project: Akiachak - Then and Now
Date of Interview: Oct 10, 2005
Narrator(s): Willie Qassayuli Kasayulie
Interviewer(s): Louann Rank, Mary Frederick, Frank Chingliak, Sophie Kasayulie, Marla Statscewich
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
U.S. Department of Education, Alaska Native Education, Yupiit School District
Alternate Transcripts
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1) How he became interested in tribal government and the formation of a municipal government in Akiachak.

2) How his educational background and high school political activities expanded his awareness of state and local government.

3) How he became involved with local politics and a tribal government movement.

4) How he was instrumental in the dissolution of municipal government and the enactment of Tribal Government in Akiachak.

5) The Indian Reorganization Act (IRA), the Akiachak Corporate Charter, and the Akiachak constitution.

6) Public hearings conducted by Thomas Berger and the Alaska Native Commission; formation of the Yupiit Nation, and the Yupiit Nation Constitution.

7) The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) in relation to the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) and Akiachak's Corporate Charter.

8) A Yupiit Nation delegation to the United Nations International Working Group of Indigenous Populations in Geneva to address questions of ANCSA.

9) Learning from elders participating in the Yupiit Nation, and a project to document Yup'ik traditional laws and customs.

10) How the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) constitution was used as a model for developing the Yupiit Nation constitution, and background information on the Yupiit School District (YSD) and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) funded Contract Schools.

11) Federal, state, and local involvement in the transfer of schools from Federal to State authority, and the formation of the Yupiit School District (YSD).

12) The inclusion of culturally appropriate standards in curriculum development, and legal action for new school construction.

13) The dissolution of Akiachak municipal government, limited recognition of tribal authority, and ANCSA amendments allowing land transfer from corporate to tribal entities.

14) His efforts in lobbying for tribal issues in amending the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), and working with Ada Deer, later U.S. Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs.

15) The benefits and challenges of municipality status, and organizational friction between Corporation and Tribal perspectives.

16) Preserving Yup'ik values and traditions through language retention, and potentials and models for Tribal College development.

17) The separation of business and politics, community involvement in planning for the future, and the dilemmas of subsistence versus resource development.

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Section 1: Akiachak -- schooling\ government -- involvement with\ Tribal Council -- background info\ Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) -- description of\ community -- involvement with\ language -- bilingual\ bilingualism -- benefits of\ municipal governments -- development of\ Akiachak -- classification of\ classification -- reasons for\ city infrastructure -- financial assistance\ tribal government -- interests in|

Section 2: Education -- background\ classmates -- Native Americans\ junior high school -- name of\ Wrangell Institute\ boarding school -- name of\ Oregon, Salem\ A Better Chance -- national program\ A Better Chance -- purpose of\ A Better Chance -- a participant of\ Dartmouth College\ high school -- location\ Vermont\ high school -- government studies\ government -- educational opportunities\ state government -- interest in\ high school government -- involvement with\

Section 3: Akiachak -- returning to\ local politics -- involvement with\ Native American -- leaders\ Native American -- network\ Alaska Native -- leaders\ Alaska Native -- network\ tribal government -- interest in\ Tribal Council -- supportive\ Tribal Council -- elders \ technical advisor -- volunteer\ Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) -- involvement with\ IRA -- Council\ IRA -- 1948\ Akiachak Tribal Government -- pre-Statehood\ tribal sovereignty -- understanding\ tribal sovereignty -- community awareness\ government -- dual\ dual government -- background\ dual government -- municipal and tribal|

Section 4: Akiachak -- municipal government\ municipal government -- dissolution of\ dissolution -- challenges with\ dissolution -- time required for\ Akiachak Tribal Government -- reasons for\ municipal government -- reasons for\ meetings -- public\ tribal government -- preferences\ dissolution -- referendum\ referendum -- sponsors\ voters -- eligibility\ voters -- public awareness campaign\ agencies -- advisement\ agencies -- federal\ agencies -- state\ teachers -- non-Native\ referendum -- successful\ Department of Regional and Community Affairs (DCRA) -- advisement\ state -- rejected referendum\ authority -- tribal\ authority -- non-recognition\ Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) Council -- members\ Akiachak Municipal Council -- members\ dissolution -- how to expedite\ Akiachak Municipal Council -- resignation\ State of Alaska -- reaction to resignation\ Akiachak -- funds\ funds -- allocated\ state funds -- withheld\ tribal -- recognition|

Section 5: IRA -- explanation of\ IRA -- nonrecogniton\ tribe -- governmental authority\ non-Natives-- rights\ tribal government -- Alaskan Native protection\ Akiachak -- incorporated\ corporate charter -- explanation of\ constitution -- authority\ documentation\ constitution -- explanation of|

Section 6: villages -- regional\ villages -- names of\ Akiak -- involvement with\ Tuluksak -- involvement with\ Berger, Thomas -- hearings\ Alaska Native Commission\ Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) -- research\ Alaska Native Commission -- purpose of\ ANCSA -- impacts\ meetings -- village\ conference -- initiation\ conference -- name\ "It?s Time" (English translation) -- name\ resolutions -- adoption of\ Yupiit Nation -- formation\ constitution -- passage\ constitution -- purpose of\ ICC Charter -- as model\ self-determination\ ICC charter -- description|

Section 7: Yupiit Nation -- rapid growth\ communities -- number involved\ board of trustees -- size\ board of trustees -- representation\ board members -- selection of\ Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA)\ ANCSA -- questioning of \ Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) -- government\ IRA -- authority\ corporate charter -- business developmet\ ANCSA -- disregard for IRA\ Alaska Natives -- lack of involvement\ ANCSA -- participants\ Guy, Phillip\ Hensley, Willie\ Christianson, Ray|

Section 8: ANCSA -- replaced IRA\ IRA -- intent\ IRA -- enactment\ IRA -- in Alaska\ Yupiit Nation -- delegation\ delegation -- Geneva\ United Nations (UN) -- Geneva\ UN -- International Working Group of Indigenous Populations\ Declaration of Indigenous Rights -- draft\ declaration -- negotiations\ negotiations -- on-going\ elders -- opportunities\ United Nations -- New York\ United Nations -- dialogue with\ United Nations -- testimony\ United Nations -- Permanent Forum\ indigenous people -- policy development\ obstacles -- unchanged\ Nation States -- awareness of\ curriculum -- development of|

Section 9: Yupiit Nation -- learning from\ Yupiit Nation -- participants\ elder -- participation\ elders -- learning from\ elders -- communication\ elders -- deceased\ present generation -- responsibility\Tununak -- elder\ Flynn, Carl\ elder -- writings\ traditional laws -- reintroduction of\ Administration for Native Americans (ANA) grant -- description of\ elders -- interviewed\ Traditional Laws and Customs -- project name\ Riordan, Ann|

Section 10: ICC -- constitution\ Yupiit Nation -- constitution\ ICC -- model\ Yupiit School District -- background\ Contract Schools -- creation of\ Contract Schools -- description of\ Contract Schools -- Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)\ Indian Self-Determination and Educational Assistance Act (ISDA) -- federal law\ tribal authority -- ISDA\ ISDA -- for BIA-funded Contract Schools\ Contract Schools -- number of\ Contract Schools -- Y-K Delta\ Akiak\ Tuluksak\ Akiachak\ Chevak\ Chefornak\ Stevens, Ted -- budget reconciliation\ State of Alaska -- school construction\ State of Alaska -- SOS (State Operated Schools)\ SOS --taking over BIA schools\ Contract Schools -- federal operation\ State -- takeover\ REAA (Regional Educational Attendance Areas|

Section 11: Regional Educational Attendance Areas (REAA) -- formation of\ Lower Kuskokwim School District (LKSD) -- board of trustees\ LKSD -- village travel\ state managed schools -- enactment of\ Contract Schools -- federal to statewide control \ Contract Schools -- Yupiit Nation\ LKSD -- involvement with\ Association of Village Council Presidents (ACVP) -- involvement with\ Yupiit Nation -- education\ education -- local control\ Yupiit Nation -- advocating independence\ State Legislature -- lobbying efforts\ state law -- proposal\ Senate Bill 35-- story of\ independence -- requirements\ referendum -- Yupiit Nation School District (YSD)\ Chevak -- school district\ Chefornak -- LKSD\ YSD -- establishment of\ YSD -- budget\ tribal governments -- interim board of education|

Section 12: curriculum -- imposed\ YSD formation -- experiences with\ village -- feedback\ curriculum -- development\ State Department of Education -- lawsuit against\ rural schools -- neglect\ schools -- new construction\ State Department of Education -- standards\ University of Alaska Fairbanks -- partnership\ UAF -- positive effects\ Bilingual Conference -- Anchorage\ Barnhart, Ray -- culturally appropriate standards\ cultural curriculum -- development of|

Section 13: tribal authority -- recognition of\ Akiachak City Government -- dissolution of\ IRA Council -- continuation of\ Rural Alaska Community Action Program (RurALCAP) -- board of directors\ Jackson, Gordon -- chairman\ RurALCAP -- Association of Village Council Presidents (ACVP) relation\ media -- publicity\ tribal sovereignty -- movement\ tribalization -- efforts\ Native American Rights Fund (NARF) -- Anchorage office\ Echohawk, John\ NARF -- free legal assistance\ Akiachak -- funds\ NARF -- negotiating entity\ State of Alaska -- lawsuit story\ municipal dissolution -- refined process required\ referendum -- State\ dissolution -- vote\ dissolution -- final\ ANCSA -- 1991 amendments\ Southeast tribal villages -- allied with\ corporation lands -- tribalization of\ tribal authority -- reintroduction of\ Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) -- ANCSA amendments\ "after borns"\ tribal government -- unpopular concept\ land -- transfer\ land -- corporate\ transfers -- to village entities\ land transfer -- explanation of|

Section 14: tribal issues -- lobbying efforts\ Tlingit -- involvement\ Juneau\ AFN -- leadership\ AFN -- tribal disagreement\ Deer, Ada -- Menominee\ Wisconsin\ Menominee -- tribal termination\ ANCSA -- tribal issues\ ANCSA -- land transfer amendment\ ANCSA -- 1991 amendments\ amendments -- passage\ Deer, Ada -- U.S. Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs\ AFN -- co-chairs\ land transfer -- procedures\ land transfer -- limited response\ AFN -- declaration of "tribes"\ shareholders -- voting\ land transfer -- votes\ shareholders -- involvement\ Alaska Native corporations -- involvement\ Smith, Eric -- judge\ Smith, Eric -- Palmer\ land transfer -- considerations\ dissenters -- financial remedy|

Section 15: Akiachak municipality -- dissolution of\ Akiachak -- state funds\ dissolution -- effects of\ municipality -- current disadvantages\ tribal government -- benefits of\ tribal government -- federal funds\ Akiachak -- social issues\ social issues -- alcohol and drugs\ Akiachak -- organizational friction\ Village Corporation\ Tribal Council\ youth -- more educated\ change -- organizational|

Section 16: Yupi'ik -- values\ Yup'ik language -- preservation of\ school -- curriculum\ No Child Left Behind\ Early Childhood programs -- significance\ New Zealand\ Maori -- educational models\ Yup'ik -- writing\ community college -- tribal\ AVCP -- tribal college\ KUC -- tribal college cooperation\ technical trades -- concentration\ YKHC -- education\ Health Aides -- program expansion\ jobs -- discussion of|

Section 17: subsistence -- challenges\ population -- growth\ business -- without politics\ jobs -- importance\ planning -- future\ community -- responsibilities\ regional corporation -- mining operation\ environment -- mining impact\ subsistence resources -- mining impact\ mining operation -- issues with\ methane -- coal bed\ Holitna River -- spawning ground\ chum -- spawning\ methane -- exploration of\ methane exploration -- issues with\ regional corporation -- profit making\ regional corporation -- internal politics\ regional corporation -- board perspectives\ Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) -- state and federal government interactions\ regional corporation -- state involvement\ ANCSA -- change\ western laws -- change\ traditional law -- unchanging|