We Are AVCP claims tribal representatives seeking transparency on recent controversies

first_imgTribal representatives from across the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta met in Bethel earlier this week to hold what they called a special convention of the Association of Village Council Presidents, or AVCP— the regional, tribal non-profit for 56 villages across the YK Delta. The goal of the meeting was two-fold: to discuss forming a regional tribal government and to get answers to recent controversies surrounding AVCP. But the group left with their questions unanswered.Download AudioIvan Ivan, addressing the tribal gathering on the first day of the meeting. (Photo by Dean Swope, KYUK – Bethel)“We are AVCP. We should not be ignored. We have questions that need to be answered,” Ivan Ivan, chairman of the gathering and chief of the Native Village of Akiak, said. In February, Ivan resigned from the AVCP Executive Board.About 25 people showed up both days of the meeting. Eight were delegates, representing villages across the Delta. But to make a quorum, the meeting needed 38 delegates.Their message—AVCP members are the organization’s true board, and the administration and executive board answer to them.Unable to take action on their agenda, the group turned to defining AVCP’s power structure and claiming authority within it.“We are entitled as board members for disclosure, answers, honesty, transparency,” Nick Andrew Jr., delegate from the Native Village of Marshall and vice chair of the gathering, said.All those things the group claims is what they aren’t getting and haven’t been getting for months as a series of AVCP issues have come to light.Vice Chair Nick Andrew Jr., delegate from the Native Village of Marshall. (Photo by Dean Swope, KYUK – Bethel)In December AVCP laid-off 30 employees, citing “changing economic times.” In January KYUK reported the administration’s almost decade-long mishandling of money from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Family or TANF funds, which are federal dollars designated for low-income families. Later that month, the Executive Board rescheduled a special convention from February to June without consulting its delegates, who voted for the earlier date. Then in February, the Executive Board announced the shutdown of its Allanivik Hotel.“When something has gone terribly wrong, which [it] has, the board has every right to exercise and flex our political might,” Vice Chair Andrew Jr. said.The meeting’s agenda called for the AVCP Chief Financial Officer and Executive Board Chairman to explain under oath the decisions surrounding these controversies. But neither official appeared at the meeting, which disappointed Willie Atti, vice president of the Kwigillingok IRA.“These are valid agenda items,” Atti said. “That’s what I came for. The E Board, for the AVCP administrative level, it seems like there’s a hindrance to its village members who they represent.”In March, Executive Board Chairman Henry Hunter Sr. sent a letter to the tribes, saying the meeting is not an AVCP sponsored event. The word “not” in the letter is capitalized and underlined.AVCP bylaws say a special convention requires the approval of two-thirds or 38 tribes.Harold Napoleon, who called into the meeting, says he helped write those bylaws when he served as Executive Director of AVCP in the 1970s.Mike Williams Sr. speaking at the meeting. (Photo by Dean Swope, KYUK – Bethel)Napoleon says regardless of what what the bylaws state about holding a convention, the AVCP executive board and administration is accountable to its members, and if the members have questions, then the executive board and administration must respond.“All of you who are in that room,” Napoleon said, “you are sitting in that room as board members. You might not be the majority, but there are enough of you there to warrant the respect and the attention of the people who are running AVCP.”Napoleon says the members have not only the right but the responsibility to get answers, especially concerning financial matters, because he says, AVCP applies for funding on the tribes’ behalf.“You—the 56 villages, the tribes—you are the ones responsible for this money. When they apply for money from the federal government and from any agency, they do it in your name,” Napoleon said.At the end of the first day, the gathering appointed three members to go to the AVCP building and summon President and CEO Myron Naneng to attend the next day’s meeting. Vice Chair Andrew was one of those selected and says Naneng responded through a receptionist that he was too busy to attend. The next day neither Naneng nor anyone from AVCP administration or the executive board showed up.The group plans to network among the tribes to get their questions for AVCP on the agenda for the AVCP sponsored June special convention.This year is an election year for AVCP leadership. Representatives at the meeting say they can vote to replace the administration and executive board at the annual fall convention. Naneng won the last election by one vote and has served as president for 24 years.Naneng did not respond to KYUK’s requests for comment.last_img read more