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2023 Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Conference

https://anjc.org/2023-icwa-conference/

About the Conference

The Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Workers Conference, took place September 26-38, 2023 in Anchorage, Alaska. This conference was open to Tribal ICWA workers and Tribal representatives across the state. The three-day conference focsed on implementation of the ICWA in Child Need of Aid cases and enhance attendee’s knowledge of and response to allegations of child abuse and neglect.

Conference program

Presentations

Day 1:

Day 2

Day 3

Agenda

See the session and workshop schedule here.

View the full keynote and workshop session descriptions here.

Agenda

View the full agenda of keynotes and workshops here. Join our mailing list below to receive conference updates. 

Stay Up to Date

Questions?



907-793-3550

call us



icwa@anjc.net

email


About Us

https://anjc.org/about-us/
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Our Mission Justice for Alaska Native People

Our Values

we are Interdependent

We trust one another and work as a team toward our common goals. We recognize that each of us has an equally important role in the community, and that we are stronger together than as individuals.

we are Resilient

We look to the future with steadfast optimism, hope, and faith in Our People. We adapt to change with persistence and determination. We engage in creative solutions and endure adversity with courage.

we are Accountable

We are ultimately responsible for fulfilling our Mission and serving Our People. We are reliable, work with integrity, and lead by example. We honor our obligations and correct our mistakes.

we are Respectful

We treat one another with dignity and kindness. We value and embrace our diversity, respect ourselves, and understand boundaries. We approach each experience with gratitude and humility.

we are Humorous

Through humor, we laugh, connect, and build relationship; we use humor to share joy and bring relief; humor is honest, liberating, and contagious, allowing us to be human and meet each other where we are on our journey.

History

ANJC was established in 1993 to address Alaska Native and Alaskan people’s unmet needs within the civil and criminal justice system, in response to the increasing disproportionate rates of victimization, incarceration, and other justice-related issues impacting Alaska Native people statewide. Its early mission was “to advocate for civil rights and fair and equitable treatment for Alaska Native people in the justice system.”

Initially, ANJC emphasized advocacy both for individuals and for systems change, working with victims of discrimination, domestic violence, and sexual assault. In 2004, ANJC’s mission was revised to “Promote justice through culturally based advocacy, prevention, and intervention initiatives to restore dignity, respect, and humanity to all Alaska Natives.”

On October 1, 2016, Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) and the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) entered into a new era of partnership intended to strengthen ANJC’s services. ANJC, formerly a CITC sister organization, was integrated into the CITC family as a non-profit affiliate where CITC provides governance and management. ANJC works closely with CITC to better integrate service delivery within the continuum of care for participants.

Statewide Service

ANJC serves individuals state-wide, assisting participants from every ANCSA region. 85% of ANJC’s clients are Alaska Native or American Indian.

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Careers

https://anjc.org/about-us/careers/

Would you like the opportunity for employment with ANJC? Apply for a job here and come join our awesome team!


Visit the ANJC Career Center


Community Impact

https://anjc.org/about-us/community-impact/

Growing Stronger

Since becoming an affiliate of CITC in 2016, ANJC has never been stronger, thanks to realigned services, new statewide collaborations, and increased staff.

ANJC continues to expand programs that align with our mission. 

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Advocacy for Victims

of our participants were assisted with emergent needs, including housing, food, or clothing

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individuals received services for domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, dating violence or stalking

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additional consultations were provided with referrals and resources in the community

Legal Representation

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tribal cases involving children were served by our Tribal ICWA Representation Program

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tribes were represented in Child in Need of Aid (CINA) cases held in Anchorage

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participants served with legal advice and/or legal representation through our Family Law Program

of protective orders taken to trial were granted

Social Justice Advocacy & Education

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30 tribal ICWA workers received education from ANJC

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regional and statewide tribal justice trainings that ANJC presented at

ANJC brings partners together to advocate important issues and affect real change in the systems that adversely affect the people we serve.

Past Impact Reports

Available as PDF.


Community Partners

https://anjc.org/about-us/community-partners/

Southcentral Foundation
  • Primary Healthcare
  • Mental Health
  • Victim Advocacy
Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Inc.
  • Behavioral Health
  • Workforce Development
  • Education
  • Recovery Services
  • Youth and Adult Reentry
  • Restorative Justice
Cook Inlet Housing Authority
  • Low-Income Housing
  • Cook Inlet Lending Center
The CIRI Foundation
  • Educational Support
  • Project Grants
Alaska Native Heritage Center
  • Cultural Programming
Koahnic Broadcasting Company
  • Native Non-Profit Media
Clare Swan Early Learning Center
  • Early Learning
  • Language Revitalization

Donor Acknowledgement

https://anjc.org/about-us/donor-acknowledgement/

Law Clerk and Law Fellowship Programs

https://anjc.org/about-us/law-clerk-and-law-fellowship-programs/

ANJC is providing law students and recent law school graduates with experience working in the field of Native law—and helping to create a cohort of Native legal professionals who can serve their communities across the country.

ANJC’s Law Clerk and Fellowship programs encourage law students and recent law graduates to work in the field of Native law while providing opportunities to pursue a wide variety of projects. The programs contribute to the development of the Alaska Native and American Indian law leaders of the future, whatever their career paths in the field might be.

Law Clerk Program

ANJC’s Law Clerk program is for current law students. This position is a short-term, usually full-time position for 10-12 weeks during the summer, or can be part of fulfilling a work-study requirement during the academic year.

Law clerk program details:

  • open to current law students
  • preference for students in their second year of law school; first year students also considered
  • short term
  • full-time
  • 10-12 weeks during the summer
  • possibility for part-time work-study during academic year

Law Fellowship Program

The Law Fellowship program is open to recent law school graduates who may or may not yet have already passed a bar exam. These positions are full-time for one or two years and allow the Fellow to gain valuable experience while continuing to develop essential skills necessary for the practice of law. ANJC Fellows are provided exposure to a variety of Alaska Native legal issues while engaging in research and writing, litigation, communication with clients, and administrative advocacy, among other kinds of work.

Law Fellowship program details:

  • open to recent law school graduates
  • preference for graduates already admitted to the Alaska Bar
  • 1-2 years
  • full-time

What Law Fellows and Law Clerks Do

Law Fellows and Law Clerks work on a variety of projects for ANJC, including:

  • Providing technical assistance and training to Alaska Native Tribes seeking to build their Tribal justice systems
  • Drafting memos and informational white papers summarizing the latest developments in the field of Tribal justice for Alaska Tribes and other organizational partners
  • Observing hearings in family law cases, domestic violence cases, and cases pertaining to Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) or Child in Need of Aid (CINA) matters in state court
  • Fellows and Clerks also have the unique opportunity to directly represent ANJC clients in court under supervision from an ANJC attorney thanks to Alaska Rule of Administrative Procedure 44

What’s it like to work with ANJC? Learn from our past law clerks and fellows!

Who is eligible

Any law student/graduate may apply; preference for Alaska Native/American Indian applicants.

How to Apply

Apply for an ANJC clerkship or fellowship through our career center. Applications open annually in October and remain open until the positions have been filled.
Apply now!

Questions



907-793-3550

call us



anjcinfo@anjc.net

email


Leadership

https://anjc.org/about-us/leadership/

Executive Leadership

Gloria O’Neill

President & CEO

Since 1998, Gloria O’Neill has served as President and Chief Executive Officer for Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC), ANJC’s parent company. Providing more than 50 programs through five core service areas and two affiliates that serve more than 12,500 Alaska Native and American Indian people each year, CITC has become one of the most effective service providers in Alaska and the nation under Gloria’s leadership.

Through rigorous attention to community-based results, Gloria has helped establish CITC’s national reputation as a leading innovator of replicable and effective service models for culturally informed education, workforce development, family preservation, and substance-use recovery.

Gloria serves as a director for the ANJC and the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) boards and serves at the federal level on the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children. Originally from Soldotna, Gloria is of Yup’ik and Irish descent.

Alex Cleghorn

Chief Operating Officer
Alex Cleghorn is of Alutiiq / Sugpiaq descent and a tribal citizen of Tangirnaq Native Village, and a shareholder of Natives of Kodiak, Koniag Incorporated and CIRI. He is a licensed attorney in Alaska, California, and several tribal jurisdictions. His work has focused primarily on representing tribal interests, Tribes and Tribal Organizations. See more on LinkedIn.

Board of Directors

  • Gail R. Schubert, Chair 
  • Greg Razo, Vice Chair 
  • Ivan Encelewski, Secretary/Treasurer
  • Gloria O’Neill, Director
  • Natasha Singh, Director
  • Nicole Borromeo, Director
  • Doug Fifer, Director

Pillars of Justice

https://anjc.org/about-us/pillars-of-justice/

ANJC’s Pillars of Justice are the basis for our services.






Social Justice Advocacy

Strategic Partnerships

Working with the right stakeholders toward our mission.

Convening

Bringing our partners together to focus around important issues and being an impetus toward the power of those working together to affect real change in the systems that adversely affect the people we serve.

Technical Assistance

Providing technical legal assistance to Alaska Tribes and Tribal Courts across the state.

Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)

This includes providing representation to Alaska Tribes in state Child in Need of Aid (CINA) cases that implicate the ICWA.

Advocacy for Victims and Survivors

Family Law

ANJC provides assistance to those who require help in navigating the legal system.

Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Human Trafficking, Dating Violence and Stalking

ANJC offers culturally sensitive services for victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, stalking and dating violence; legal representation may be available to eligible participants.

Victims of Crime

ANJC offers services to victims of crime and their families

Elder Services

ANJC provides services to Elders who have been financially exploited or are a victim of neglect or another crime. We also assist Native elders with culturally competent and holistic end of life planning.

Education

Youth

ANJC partners with the Alaska Court System to host the Color of Justice program which offers active learning opportunities to young people who have aspirations to work in the criminal justice system.


Statewide Justice Advocacy

https://anjc.org/about-us/statewide-justice-advocacy/

ANJC is at the center of Alaska’s justice advocacy conversation


With many partners, we are involved in numerous local, regional and statewide commissions, boards and committees.

The Alaska Criminal Justice Data Analysis Commission

ANJC is a member of the Alaska Criminal Justice Data Analysis Commission. The Commission’s research agenda and priorities are based on Article I, Sections 7 and 24 of the Alaska Constitution, and the issues of most pressing concern to the criminal justice system. The Commission conducts data analysis, research, reports, or studies necessary to understand the functions, operations, and outcomes of the criminal justice system, and to identify areas for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system. 

Access and Fairness Commission

The commission’s goal is to increase fairness and access to the courts for all Alaskans and is co-chaired by Alaska Supreme Court Justices Peter Maassen and Susan Carney.

Alaska Justice Information Center (AJiC) Steering Committee

The AJiC Steering Committee provides the AJiC with ongoing input and guidance. The AJiC Steering Committee comprises key criminal justice policymakers and stakeholders. The Alaska Justice Information Center’s mission is to compile, analyze, and report on criminal justice topics to policymakers and practitioners in order to improve public safety, to increase criminal justice system accountability, and to reduce recidivism.

Children in Need of Aid (CINA) Court Improvement Program
(in partnership with CITC)

The CINA Court Improvement Program monitors and improves the way the court system handles child in need of aid cases, and enhances coordination between the court system and other agencies and Tribes involved in CINA cases.

Council for the Advancement for Alaska Natives (CAAN)

ANJC is a member of  CAAN, a committee of Alaska Federation of Natives, which represents the statewide interests and priorities of the 12 Alaska Native regional nonprofits and other statewide Alaska Native nonprofits including First Alaskans Institute, Alaska Native Health Board, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, and RurAL CAP.

ANJC has submitted the following resolutions which were passed at the 2018 Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) Convention. These resolutions and others related to addressing Alaska’s public safety crisis and access to justice services remain top priorities for ANJC’s work within AFN’s CAAN committee.

  • 18-10: Supporting changes in the alaska statutes to make the conduct involved in the recent case involving an assault on a native woman a sex offense and support for a general review of the alaska statutes regarding sex offenses by the criminal justice commission
  • 18-11: Calling for an outside investigation of the disparate treatment in the alaska criminal justice system of cases involving alaska native offenders and victims
Additional Tribal Justice and ICWA initiatives

We facilitate monthly meetings with organizational partners such as Alaska Legal Services Corporation, Native American Rights Fund, and the legal teams from several Alaska Native regional nonprofits to address emergent legal and policy issues affecting the communities we serve. Our commitment to streamlining efforts, maximizing resources, and addressing complicated social justice issues drives these efforts.


Contact

https://anjc.org/contact/

Our Location

2550 Denali Street
11th floor
Anchorage, AK 99503



Call Us

907-793-3550

Fax

907-793-3570



Collect

907-793-3558



ICWA Toll-Free

833-793-9297



Email us

anjcinfo@anjc.net



ICWA

icwa@anjc.net



Tribal Justice

tribaljustice@anjc.net

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Voices for Justice –
Join Us!

Our 30th annual Voices for Justice fundraiser is on November 30.

Add your voice to our group of supporters by making a donation, attending the event, or starting your own fundraiser.


Learn more


Donate

Thank You!

Together, we raised $140,977 in support of ANJC’s mission, through our 30th annual Voices for Justice fundraiser.

We are deeply grateful to our donors and sponsors for their generous support.


See campaign

The Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) promotes justice through culturally based

advocacy, prevention, and intervention services

to restore dignity, respect, and humanity to all Alaska Native people

We moved! We’re now at 2550 Denali St.

Lifting Up

ANJC serves as a bridge between Alaska Native people and the justice system. We advocate for justice and work in partnership with community and statewide agencies.

How We Help

We provide a wide range of advocacy, prevention and intervention services.


Our Services

Ready to Apply?

Contact ANJC for eligibility questions or to complete an application for services


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recent Success Stories



Advocating for Himself and Others

December 21, 2023

“I encourage others to ask, if you can; advocate for opportunities to become a better lawyer.” ANJC’s law clerkship provided a way for Geoffrey Bacon to gain experience while advocating for the people he serves.



Lifting a Burden

December 12, 2023
ICWA Tribal Justice

Bethel caseworkers Gertrude Peter and Andrew Steven handled roughly 70 to 80 CINA cases this fall; their calendars can often be booked with back-to-back hearings. And, until recently, they were on their own.



Taking a Walk “In Her Shoes”

November 2, 2023
Advocacy Victims & Survivors

ANJC’s interactive training provides staff with the lived experiences of survivors of abuse No one can find Legal Services. “It’s over there,” pointed out one participant of the In Her Shoes training hosted by the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) on Monday, October 23. Larissa Makar, corporate trainer for ANJC partner Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC), locates the table that represents Legal Services. She picks up a green card labeled “Tiffany” and reads a brief description. At the end of the description, Larissa is left with a choice. Depending on which option she goes for, Tiffany’s story could take a …

our latest News


Adult and Youth Reentry and Restorative Justice Programs have moved to CITC

January 8, 2024


Alaska Native Justice Center Welcomes Two Key Additions to Its Team

October 11, 2023


The Alaska Native Justice Center offices have moved

July 20, 2023

See more

upcoming Events


See Calendar

recent Legal and Policy Updates


Alaska Court System Streamlines Sentencing Recommendation Process for Tribes

December 13, 2023

Tribes can make culturally appropriate sentencing recommendations for members of their community with criminal cases in state court resulting in convictions. Alaska Criminal Rule 11(i) and Delinquency Rule 23(f) encourage the use of restorative justice practices in state court proceedings. A tribe’s restorative justice process can be a sentencing circle, or another process of the Tribe’s choosing. In 2023, the presiding judges issued a statewide order which clarifies the restorative justice process. It is open to any Alaska Tribe and does not require a Rule 11 agreement. The restorative justice process requires the consent of the defendant, the prosecutor, and …


Department of Justice Confirms Tribal Jurisdiction

December 7, 2023

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) recently issued a memorandum confirming that Tribes in Alaska can exercise criminal jurisdiction over all Native people within their Village. The memorandum underscores what Congress made clear in the 2022 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. The Act directly addressed jurisdiction of Tribes in Alaska and stated that “Congress recognizes and affirms the inherent authority of any Indian tribe occupying a Village in the State to exercise criminal and civil jurisdiction over all Indians present in the Village.” 25 U.S.C. § 1305(a). DOJ’s new memorandum makes clear that Alaska Tribes’ criminal jurisdiction …


Opportunities for Tribes to Collaborate with the State of Alaska

June 3, 2021

There are several options for Alaska Tribes to work with the State on justice-related matters. One of the options provides an opportunity to become involved in State criminal matters involving tribal citizens. Three Opportunities for Tribes to Collaborate with the State of Alaska


See more

Community Impact

Advocacy for Victims

0

individuals received services for domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, dating violence or stalking

Legal Representation

of protective orders taken to trial were granted

Justice Advocacy & Education

0

tribal ICWA members received training and education


More Community Impact

ANJC_pillars

The services we provide to our community are born from our four foundational concepts. 


Pillars of Justice


Services

https://anjc.org/services/

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for Victims & Survivors

We provide help navigating systems, intensive case management, referrals to services and community resources. Our services are culturally sensitive. Legal representation may be available to eligible participants. We offer services for victims and survivors of:

Domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence
Human trafficking
Other crimes

for Elders

Crimes Against Elders

ANJC assists Elders who are vulnerable to and are victims or survivors of financial exploitation, neglect, or other crimes

for Youth

Color of Justice

The Color of Justice is a two-day program for youth in high school who are interested in careers in the justice field. 

for Self-Representation

Clinics for Family Justice

“Pro se” is a term used for people who are advocating for themselves in court, without the representation of a lawyer. ANJC’s pro se legal clinics help people understand and navigate the legal system.

for Tribes

ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act)

We represent Tribes in Alaska State Court ICWA cases being heard within the Southcentral region. We provide training and support for Tribal ICWA Workers.

Tribal Justice Support

ANJC supports Alaska Tribes with developing and improving their Tribal justice systems to better serve and protect their communities.


Clinics for Family Justice

https://anjc.org/services/clinics-for-family-justice/

“Pro se” is a term used for people who are advocating for themselves in court, without the representation of a lawyer. ANJC’s pro se legal clinics help people understand and navigate the legal system. Our clinics place knowledge in the hands of participants and supports them in effectively advocating on their own behalf.

ANJC offers pro se legal clinics to anyone needing assistance. Contact us for more information on upcoming clinics.

Services

  • Virtual Pro Se Clinics – Statewide
  • In-person Pro Se Clinics- Anchorage

ANJC’s 2024 Virtual Pro Se* Clinic Series

Do you have questions about how to fill out and file paperwork for a divorce, or child custody? Have you experienced domestic violence, stalking, or Elder financial abuse? 

ANJC can help!  

We are pleased to share our Winter/Spring 2024 virtual pro se clinic series. 

  • Divorce/Divorce with Custody: learn how to fill out and file divorce or divorce with custody paperwork with the Alaska Court System. 
  • Child Custody for Unmarried Couples Clinic: learn how to fill out and file custody paperwork with the Alaska Court System. 
  • Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO) Clinic: Step-by-step instructions about what a protection order is and how it works, how to complete the necessary forms, and how to file with the Alaska Court System. 
  • Stalking Clinic: a presentation to help professionals and community members identify what stalking behavior looks like and ways it can add to a person feeling intimidated, and unsafe and lead to threats as well as interpersonal physical violence. It also gives ideas and advice on how to support those who are experiencing stalking and may want to file a Protective Order against their perpetrator.                                            

Please see the schedule below for exact dates and times, and to register. All clinics are hosted on Zoom and registration is necessary to attend.  

May  

June 

  • June 4, 12-1 p.m., Divorce 
  • June 4, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m., DVPO 
  • June 5, 12-1 p.m., Custody 
  • June 11, 12-1 p.m., Stalking 
  • June 18, 12-1 p.m., DVPO 

July

August

Still have questions? Please contact us at: anjcinfo@anjc.net  or 907-793-3550 

*“Pro se” is a term used for people who are advocating for themselves in court, without the representation of a lawyer. ANJC’s pro se legal clinics help people understand and navigate the legal system. Our clinics place knowledge in the hands of participants and support them in effectively advocating on their own behalf. ANJC offers pro se legal clinics to anyone needing assistance.

 


Color of Justice

https://anjc.org/services/color-of-justice/

The Color of Justice is a two-day program for youth in high school who are interested in careers in the justice field. ANJC partners with the State of Alaska Court System to provide interactive presentations featuring “You be the Judge”, “Constitutional Cranium”, “Mentor Jet”, and several other workshops and presentations by attorneys, judges and professors.

ANJC hosts Color of Justice in the Southcentral Region every other year. ANJC focuses on involving Alaska Native and American Indian youth into the program. 

Youth interested in attending an upcoming event or want to learn more about the Color of Justice can contact us.


Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Victims and Survivors

https://anjc.org/services/domestic-violence-sexual-assault-victims/

Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically.

Providing advocacy, support and legal assistance to victims and survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking reduces the probability of such violence reoccurring in the future and can help survivors move forward. Legal representation increases the possibility of successfully obtaining a protective order against an attacker.

Not everyone who has been affected by criminal activity wishes to be referred to as a victim. Some might prefer the term “survivor,” for example. To honor this experience, ANJC uses both terms.

Services

We provide help navigating systems, intensive case management, referrals to services and community resources. Legal representation may be available to eligible participants. Our services are culturally sensitive.

  • Emotional support and safety planning
  • Assistance with obtaining a protective order
  • Education about the criminal justice system
  • Court accompaniment
  • Assistance applying to the Violent Crime Compensation Board (VCCB) to cover crime related expenses or needs.
  • Legal consultations, and in some cases, legal representation
  • Referrals to services and resources such as:
    • Housing
    • Health care
    • Behavioral health
    • Recovery services for substance misuse
    • Employment
    • Additional legal service providers

FAQ

Does the ANJC help with Landlord/Tenant issues?

No. Though we do not assist with Landlord/Tenant issues, we collaborate with a community partner Alaska Legal Services that may be able to help.

Does the ANJC help with criminal cases?

No, we do not provide criminal defense representation. Call the local Public Defender or ask the Court to appoint an attorney for you.


Human Trafficking Victims and Survivors

https://anjc.org/services/human-trafficking-victims/

Human trafficking involves:

  • a person who has been subjected to sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; or
  • the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

Alaska Native youth are disproportionately affected by human trafficking. A recent Loyola University report found that homeless youth in Anchorage were being trafficked at a rate of nearly 30%  – a higher rate than any other city studied, including New York and New Orleans. Nearly 45% of trafficked youth identified were Alaska Native. The disproportionality is alarming. More research and community education is needed to fully understand and combat this issue.

Many factors contribute to the high rate of trafficking of Alaska Native people. Although human trafficking can happen to anyone, certain populations are more vulnerable and at a higher risk of becoming victims. There are risk factors that make Alaska Native populations especially vulnerable to human trafficking.

ANJC’s commitment in responding to trafficking in Alaska continues to strengthen through:

  • Community education and awareness activities
  • Facilitated training for service providers and community members
  • Support and case management to survivors
  • Partnership with organizations in order to provide referrals for needed services
  • Providing legal assistance or advice
  • Established a multidisciplinary task force in partnership with the Anchorage Police Department

Services

We provide help navigating systems, intensive case management, referrals to services and community resources. Legal representation may be available to eligible participants. Our services are culturally sensitive.

  • Emotional support and safety planning
  • Assistance with obtaining a protective order
  • Education about the criminal justice system
  • Emergency financial support
  • Court accompaniment
  • Assistance applying to the Violent Crime Compensation Board (VCCB) to cover crime related expenses or needs.
  • Legal consultations, and in some cases, legal representation
  • Referrals to services and resources such as:
    • Housing
    • Health care
    • Recovery services for substance misuse
    • Employment
    • Additional legal service providers

ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act)

https://anjc.org/services/icwa-indian-child-welfare-act/

ANJC represents and advises Alaska Tribes in State Child of Need Aid (“CINA”) cases where the Indian Child Welfare Act (“ICWA”) applies. Despite some progress, the State continues to fall far short of fulfilling the promise of ICWA to keep Alaska Native children safe and connected to our Alaska Native cultures. ANJC helps ensure State child protection matters comply with the ICWA.

ICWA is recognized as the gold standard in child welfare practice. The ICWA promotes the best interest of our Alaska Native children by keeping them connected to our cultures, extended families, and Tribes, which are proven protective factors.

All Alaska Tribes with an ICWA case in an Alaska State Court in the Southcentral region are eligible for representation.

Services

We provide:

  • Court representation in many areas of the state
  • Advice to Tribes statewide
  • Training and support for Tribal ICWA Workers

For more information, please contact our ICWA team.

FAQ

What is the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)?

The ICWA is a federal law that sets out rules that state courts must follow in child welfare cases where American Indian/Alaska Native children are removed from their home.

The ICWA is designed to keep Alaska Native children connected to their families and Tribes, which serves the best interests of Alaska Native children. The ICWA also recognizes Tribes’ right to participate in these child welfare cases.

Does the ICWA apply to all Alaska Native children?

The ICWA applies to Alaska Native children that are either:

  • a citizen (member) of an Indian tribe; or
  • an eligible for citizenship (membership) in an Indian tribe and the biological child of a citizen of an Indian tribe

Why was ICWA passed?

The ICWA was passed in 1978 because Congress was alarmed by the large numbers of Native children who were being separated from their parents, extended families, and Tribes by states.

Congress intended that ICWA would “protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families” (25 U.S.C. § 1902).

What does ICWA require?

ICWA requires the State Child Protection Agency (Office of Children’s Services) to:

  1. Provide active efforts and resources to try to reunify the family
  2. Identify a placement that fits under the ICWA preference provisions
  3. Notify the Native child’s Tribe of the state court case
  4. Work actively to involve the child’s Tribe in the case

Why is the Tribal ICWA Representation Program Needed?

Alaska Native children are more likely to be removed from their home and placed in out of home care. The state ensures that parents and OCS are provided attorneys in Child in Need of Aid (CINA) cases involving the ICWA.

Tribes are the only party not provided an attorney. ANJC ensures the Tribes’ voice is clearly heard in Court.

When is ICWA most effective?

ICWA is most effective when the Tribe is actively involved in the Court proceedings through a Tribal representative (ICWA worker or attorney). 

While an attorney is certainly not required for Tribes to be involved in a child protection proceeding, we believe that a Tribal attorney amplifies the Tribes voice and allows the Tribal ICWA worker to concentrate on assistance to the Tribal family and children.

Does ANJC represent parents in Child In Need of Aid cases?

No. ANJC only represents Tribes.  Every parent is entitled to a Court appointed attorney if they cannot afford to hire an attorney.

Does ANJC help Tribes outside of southcentral Alaska?

Yes. We help all 229 Alaska Tribes. 


Services for Elders

https://anjc.org/services/elders/

ANJC assists Elders and their families with accessing the legal means to protect Elders from fraud, financial abuse, neglect, and to ensure that Elders have the care available to them through guardianships of adults and guardianships of grandchildren when grandparent is raising them.

We provide trauma-informed, culturally competent holistic services to Elders and their families. We also assist with end of life planning for Alaska Native people such as Advanced Care Directives and Powers of Attorney.

Services

We provide help navigating community resources through information, assistance, and referrals; intensive case management; and legal assistance and consultations.

  • Court Accompaniment
  • Education and assistance navigating the criminal justice system
  • Assistance applying to the Violent Crime Compensation Board (VCCB)
  • Ensure your rights are being respected in the legal process
  • Emergency Financial Assistance may be available
  • Assistance with filing consumer complaints
  • Referrals and assistance accessing:
    • Health care
    • Grief Recovery
    • Educational/training
    • Employment
    • Housing
  • Help Elders complete applications for services and provides follow up information to access resources and services
  • Assistance with stock wills, powers of attorney, advanced health care directives, Guardianship of Elder family members and guardianships of minor grandchildren

Tribal Justice Support

https://anjc.org/services/tribal-justice-support/

Alaska Native People and Alaska Tribes have existed in what is now the State of Alaska for thousands of years and there are currently 229 Alaska Tribes with federal recognition. Alaska Tribes are separate sovereigns with inherent sovereignty and subject matter jurisdiction over certain matters.

ANJC’s partnerships with Alaska Tribes support Alaska Tribes’ efforts to strengthen tribal sovereignty and justice, and create and control tribal justice institutions.

ANJC supports Alaska Tribes with developing and improving their Tribal justice systems to better serve and protect their communities. The objectives of ANJC’s partnership with Alaska Tribes, include:

  • Assist with creating and supporting Alaska Tribes’ institutions and systems that improve the welfare of Alaska Native communities
  • Support tribal sovereignty and autonomy
  • Enhance and develop resources and tools to support tribal sovereignty
  • Develop model service delivery systems that meet the unique needs of Alaska Tribes

ANJC offers personalized training and technical assistance to build capacity, implement cultural values and remedies, and access resources to help break the cycles of victimization. ANJC partners with Alaska Native regional nonprofits, Alaska nonprofit organizations, and others to align Tribal justice support efforts and resources.

ANJC supports Tribal justice system staff to achieve efficient case processing; coordinated response, informed judicial decision making; training for court staff; victims’ rights, safety and services; offender accountability; and reduced recidivism.

Services

We provide:

  • Technical assistance and training
  • Ensuring State recognition of VAWA compliant protective orders
  • Supporting opportunities to collaborate with State agencies
  • Resource identification
  • Resource development including:
    • Alaska-specific victim-centered model codes
    • Model forms and agreements
    • Tribal court implementation handbook
    • Tribal court resource database
    • Services catalog

For more information, please contact our Tribal Justice Support team.

FAQ

I have a domestic violence protective order from a Tribe, do State law enforcement have to help me if it violated?

Yes. The Violence Against Women Act requires every jurisdiction in the United States to ‘recognize’ and ‘enforce’ valid protection orders issued in any jurisdiction in the United States.  This includes tribal domestic violence protective orders.

Enforcement requires that all public safety professionals, including State law enforcement, treat a valid tribal domestic violence protective order as if it were one of their own and to enforce it accordingly if it were violated.

Why can Tribes have Tribal Courts?

Tribes had power over Tribal citizens and their lands prior to outside contact. Today, Tribes retain this power, or original sovereignty, and continue to have the authority to govern their own affairs. Even though Congress has limited some aspects of original sovereignty, many aspects of sovereignty remain.

The power to establish and maintain Tribal courts and judicial systems is an inherent, retained power that was never surrendered.

Do Tribal Courts have to look and function like state or federal courts?

No. Tribal courts do not have to look or function like state or federal courts. In fact, the Alaska Supreme Court has said that state courts “should strive to respect the cultural differences that influence tribal jurisprudence,” and “recognize the practical limits experienced by smaller court systems.”

Tribal courts create structures and processes to best address concerns in the community. In hearing cases, some Tribal courts will use a panel of judges instead of just one. Some Tribes use circle sentencing to ensure community involvement and to help hold an offender accountable for correcting harm done.

Many Tribes are combining resources and expertise and creating intertribal courts to maximize their service to their communities.

What kinds of cases do Alaska Tribes handle?

Alaska Tribes frequently use their Tribal courts to address the issues of importance to the Tribe. Many handle cases related to internal affairs of the Tribe and may have to do with the health, welfare, and safety of Tribal citizens.

Such cases may include adoptions, child protection, custody, ICWA intervention, probate, inheritance, violent crime, including domestic violence and juvenile delinquency. Tribal courts will also hear issues pertaining to citizenship or Tribal election disputes.


Resources for Tribal Justice

https://anjc.org/services/tribal-justice-support/resources-for-tribal-justice/

Tribal Court Proceedings

Alaska Intertribal Technical Assistance Working Group

This page contains useful resources and planning information for Alaska Tribes interested in Special Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction. For more information email: AlaskaITWG@anjc.net

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2022 (VAWA 2022) introduced the Alaska Pilot Program, which will enable Alaska Tribes to criminally prosecute non-Indians for specific crimes committed in their Villages. The primary purpose of the Alaska Intertribal Technical Assistance Working Group (AK ITWG) is to bring together Alaska Tribes to collectively work toward enhancing safety and justice in Tribal communities with a particular emphasis on considering and preparing for the exercise of Special Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction (STCJ). 

REGISTER for the Alaska Intertribal Technical Assistance Working Group on Special Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction

Helpful Links:

This project was supported by Grant No. 15JOVW-23-GK-05462-MUMU awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Justice.


Victims of Other Crimes

https://anjc.org/services/other-crimes/

ANJC supports victims and survivors of crime and their families.  ANJC provides trauma-informed, culturally competent holistic services to all participants, their family, and the community.

Services

We provide help navigating systems, intensive case management, referrals to services and community resources. Legal representation may be available to eligible participants. Our services are culturally sensitive.

  • Emotional support and safety planning
  • Assistance with obtaining a protective order
  • Education about the criminal justice system
  • Emergency financial support
  • Court accompaniment
  • Assistance applying to the Violent Crime Compensation Board (VCCB) to cover crime related expenses or needs.
  • Legal consultations, and in some cases, legal representation
  • Referrals to services and resources such as:
    • Housing
    • Health care
    • Recovery services for substance misuse
    • Employment
    • Additional legal service providers
    • Educational and training opportunities

Voices for Justice 2022

https://anjc.org/voices-for-justice-2022/

ANJC Annual FundraiserNovember 14 – December 12, 2022Goal: $100,000

“Let Justice Soar” artwork courtesy of Amanda Rose Warren

Join us for our 29th Annual Voices for Justice Fundraiser taking place place through December 12. Each week, we will provide an opportunity to bid on new and exciting silent auction items, learn about social justice issues facing Alaska Native people, and take action.

Please join us for this compelling, and interactive campaign and add your voice to our group of supporters by making a donation, participating in our online auction, and starting your own fundraiser!

https://youtu.be/jKTgcLsxrtQ

Success Story
Against the Odds

Alaska Native people face long odds in the justice system—but with the help of ANJC, Toni Sanderson beat the statistics.

Success Story
A Stepping Stone to Success

By partnering with youth detention centers, ANJC aims to reduce recidivism among young offenders.

jump to

Donate

Make your gift today.


Donate Now

Here’s how your gift can change a life:

  • $35 provides a weekly bus pass for transportation to work.
  • $100 provides one night of shelter for victims of human trafficking.
  • $250 provides two hours of legal representation for victims of domestic violence.
  • $500 provides one month of groceries for a family of four.
  • $1,000 covers first month’s rent for participants transitioning to safe, permanent housing.

Be a Voice for Justice.

Behind every statistic is a person, a family, and a community:

  • Alaska Native women are nearly 4 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than non-Native women.
  • Alaska Native children are about 7 times more likely than White children to be in foster care.
  • 42% of Alaska’s incarcerated population is Alaska Native, but Alaska Native people represent only 16% of the state’s population.

Together, we can do better. 

Your contribution to the Alaska Native Justice Center works to promote fair, equitable, and culturally appropriate treatment in the justice and child welfare systems for Alaska Native people throughout the state.

Our 2022 Fundraising Team: Join Us!

Co-Hosts

Fundraising Co-Chairs
Co-Hosts
  • Deborah Atuk
  • Maude Blair
  • Barbara ‘Wáaahlaal Gíidaak Blake
  • Sheri Buretta
  • Emily Edenshaw
  • Ivan Encelewski
  • Carol Gore
  • Andrew Guy
  • Vivian Korthuis
  • Mark & Leslie Kroloff
  • April Kyle
  • Georgianna Lincoln & Chris Cooke
  • Jahna Lindemuth
  • Jason Metrokin
  • Lloyd Miller
  • Nikole Nelson
  • Melanie Osborne
  • Greg Razo
  • John Rubini & Clare Bertucio
  • Jaclyn Sallee
  • Herb Schroeder
  • Gail Schubert
  • Jim Torgerson
  • Jana Turvey
Honorary Co-Hosts
  • Senator Dan Sullivan & Julie Fate Sullivan

Standing Up for Justice!

Our co-hosts are working hard to create a more just Alaska and have pledged to raise critical funds.

Support their efforts by making your contribution through a co-host today.

You can also be an individual fundraiser for ANJC. Look for “Register to Fundraise” on our donation page.

Individual Fundraisers

Sign Up to Fundraise – Win 25,000 Alaska Airlines Miles!

By fundraising, you become part of the solution for Alaska Native people seeking justice. Set up a fundraising page in a few clicks, set your goal, and let your friends, family, and colleagues know!

Get 3 donors to contribute and be entered into a drawing to win 25,000 Alaska Airlines miles!

Click here to create your own fundraising page! 

Online Auction

Each week in November we’ll post brand new items including Alaska Native art, jewelry, experiences and more for you to bid on from the comfort of your own couch. Bid high, bid early, and bid often!


Go to auction

Follow ANJC on Facebook to preview upcoming auction items and stay ahead of the competition.

 

Featured Auction Items

Family Day Pass to the Sea Life Center
Family Day Pass to the Sea Life Center
Beaded medallion bolo (artist is a staff member at ANJC!)
Beaded medallion bolo (artist is a staff member at ANJC!)
Bird earrings made with home-tanned/dyed salmon skin
Bird earrings made with home-tanned/dyed salmon skin
Locally roasted Kaladi Brothers Coffee
Locally roasted Kaladi Brothers Coffee
Custom raven drum
Custom raven drum
Caines Head Full Day Kayak Paddle and Hiking Adventure for Two
Caines Head Full Day Kayak Paddle and Hiking Adventure for Two
Heart Ivory Earrings
Heart Ivory Earrings
Chulitna Gorge Tour for Two
Chulitna Gorge Tour for Two
Pendelton Spirit Bear Blanket
Pendelton Spirit Bear Blanket
Charcuterie board
Charcuterie board

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Stay Connected

Sign-up to Win a Prize!

Feeling lucky? Sign up to get ANJC updates and be entered to win an ANJC mug. Five lucky winners will be drawn.

Stay Connected

Check out ANJC’s Facebook page for campaign updates, inspiring stories, and ways your contribution is making a difference throughout Alaska.

Questions?

Please contact us at voicesforjustice@anjc.net to learn more about our Voices for Justice Campaign, ANJC’s statewide impact or ways to get involved. We’d love to hear from you!

2022 Community Impact

Advocated on behalf of

650

victims

of domestic violence (DV), dating violence, stalking,
or sexual assault (SA)

Served

170

individuals

through adult reentry and youth development programs and services

Supported

82

individuals

through Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) cases

Provided

64

consultations

and represented 16 victims and survivors of DV/SA in
protective order cases

Represented

24

tribes

in ICWA-related cases

Provided 

450

supportive services

for participants, a 31% increase
from 2021

Voices for Justice: 2022 Year in Review

Throughout 2022, the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) continued to deliver and grow its direct services to people seeking justice-related support.

First National Bank Alaska Supports Justice for Alaska Native People

The financial institution donated $5,000 to the Alaska Native Justice Center

Sponsors

Standing Together for Justice—Thank You.

Pillar of Justice: $10,000+

Champion of Justice: $5,000+

Defender of Justice: $2,500+

Friend of Justice: $1,000+


Voices For Justice 2023

https://anjc.org/voices-for-justice-2023/

Voices For Justice 2023 Fundraiser

Join us on November 30th at the CIRI Atrium

Join the Alaska Native Justice Center for our annual Voices for Justice Fundraiser as we celebrate 30 years of growth, life-changing impact, partnership, and service to Alaskans!

Our return to an in-person celebration will feature a silent auction, live auction, hors d’oeurves, and good company. Funds raised will support the mission of the Alaska Native Justice Center and justice for all Alaskans. Your participation and attendance help us take another step toward changing the destiny of Our People.

SAVE THE DATE!
Voices For Justice – ANJC’s annual fundraiser

Thursday, November 30
5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
The Atrium at CIRI, 725 E. Fireweed Lane

Kindly RSVP to Kelly Hurd at khurd@citci.org.

Suggested Minimum Contribution:

  • Individuals: $250 or a $30 Monthly Sustaining Donation 
  • Corporations: $1,000 

If you cannot attend but wish to contribute, please click here

https://youtu.be/jKTgcLsxrtQ

Success Story
Against the Odds

Alaska Native people face long odds in the justice system—but with the help of ANJC, Toni Sanderson beat the statistics.

Success Story
A Stepping Stone to Success

By partnering with youth detention centers, ANJC aims to reduce recidivism among young offenders.

jump to

Donate

Make your gift today.


Donate Now

Here’s how your gift can change a life:

  • $30 a month provides essential phone minutes for a participant to have access to safety, community resources, & emotional support
  • $60 a month provides bus transportation for one month.
  • $150 provides one night of shelter for victims of human trafficking.
  • $250 provides two hours of legal representation for victims of domestic violence.
  • $600 provides one month of groceries for a family of four.
  • $1,500 covers first month’s rent for participants transitioning to safe, permanent housing.
  • $2,500 supports bringing two students from rural Alaska to Anchorage to attend Color of Justice and learn about careers in the legal field.

For 30 years, ANJC has advocated for Alaska Native People facing our complex and intimidating justice system.  We have been able to do so because of the support and generosity of Alaskans like you.  You understand the impact and value of what your gift can do: ensure that when our participants reach out to us for help, ANJC will always be there.

ANJC Monthly Giving Program

For our 30th anniversary, we’re asking our supporters to commit to donating $30 a month.

Why give monthly?

Our services are provided to clients and participants at no cost, as our priority is helping those who are underserved and in need of assistance and support.

When you give monthly, every little bit helps, every time. A consistent monthly gift ensures a stable foundation for ANJC to comfortably seek out big-picture solutions for our participants that would otherwise not be possible. In addition to ensuring the survival of our programs, monthly donations pave the path for their sustained growth, enabling our programs and services to flourish.

Your gift will go directly to our participants, making sure that when someone gets out of prison, they have a chance of not going back. Your gift keeps families together, and makes sure our Elders who are victims of abuse are safe, heard, and secure in their decisions.

Our 2023 Fundraising Team: Join Us!

Co-Hosts

Fundraising Co-Chairs
Co-Hosts
  • Deborah Atuk
  • Sheri Buretta
  • Ivan Encelewski
  • Doug Fifer
  • Andrew Guy
  • Shauna Hegna
  • Pamela Keeler
  • Vivian Korthuis
  • Mark & Leslie Kroloff
  • April Kyle
  • Jahna Lindemuth
  • Sarah Lukin
  • Heather Kendall Miller & Lloyd Miller
  • Jason Metrokin
  • Chris Monfor
  • Jenifer Nelson
  • Jaclyn Sallee
  • Gail R. Schubert
  • Jim Torgerson
  • Jana Turvey
  • Connie Wirz

Standing Up for Justice!

Our co-hosts are working hard to create a more just Alaska and have pledged to raise critical funds.

Support their efforts by making your contribution through a co-host today.

You can also be an individual fundraiser for ANJC. Look for “Fundraise With Us” on our donation page.

Individual Fundraisers

Honorary Co-Hosts

  • Senator Dan Sullivan & Julie Fate Sullivan

Sign Up to Fundraise – Win 25,000 Alaska Airlines Miles!

By fundraising, you become part of the solution for Alaska Native people seeking justice. Set up a fundraising page in a few clicks, set your goal, and let your friends, family, and colleagues know!

Get 3 donors to contribute and be entered into a drawing to win 25,000 Alaska Airlines miles!

Click here to create your own fundraising page! 

Auction

With the return to an in-person event, we will be hosting both a Silent and Live Auction at the event.  

We’ll be auctioning items including Alaska Native art, jewelry, experiences and more for you to bid on as you join us on November 30 to be a voice for justice! 

Follow ANJC on Facebook to preview upcoming auction items and stay ahead of the competition.

Featured Auction Items

Jerry Laktonen raven mask (generously donated by Koniag, Inc.)
Jerry Laktonen raven mask (generously donated by Koniag, Inc.)
Cannery Lodge Weekend Getaway Package in the VIP Riverview Suite (generously donated by Salamatof Native Association)
Cannery Lodge Weekend Getaway Package in the VIP Riverview Suite (generously donated by Salamatof Native Association)
Custom Josh Ahsoak end table (Curly maple, baleen, dried flowers, and resin)
Custom Josh Ahsoak end table (Curly maple, baleen, dried flowers, and resin)
Beautiful hand-beaded cuff
Beautiful hand-beaded cuff
Apple Watch series 9 41 mm midnight (generously donated by GCI)
Apple Watch series 9 41 mm midnight (generously donated by GCI)
150,000 Alaska Airlines Miles package
150,000 Alaska Airlines Miles package
AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) (generously donated by GCI)
AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) (generously donated by GCI)
Linda Infante Lyons original: "Point Hope"
Linda Infante Lyons original: “Point Hope”
Alfred Naumoff mask (generously donated by Koniag, Inc.)
Alfred Naumoff mask (generously donated by Koniag, Inc.)
Custom Josh Ahsoak jewelry rack
Custom Josh Ahsoak jewelry rack

Previous image
Next image

Stay Connected

Sign-up to Win a Prize!

Feeling lucky? Sign up to get ANJC updates and be entered to win an ANJC mug. Five lucky winners will be drawn.

Stay Connected

Check out ANJC’s Facebook page for campaign updates, inspiring stories, and ways your contribution is making a difference throughout Alaska.

Questions?

Please contact us at voicesforjustice@anjc.net to learn more about our Voices for Justice Campaign, ANJC’s statewide impact or ways to get involved. We’d love to hear from you!

2023 Community Impact

Advocated on behalf of

754

victims

of domestic violence (DV), dating violence, stalking,
or sexual assault (SA)

Hosted

24

legal clinics

clinics designed to empower individuals to navigate the court system

Supported

227

cases

and provided 28 trainings to further ensure that Alaska Native children were protected under  Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)

Provided

135

outreach activities

and 113 trainings for the public, Tribal staff, and partners.

Represented

162

Elders

with court paperwork, landlord/tenant issues, financial scams, housing, adult guardianships, and obtaining guardianship over their grandchildren.

Received

1,435

requests

for services in FY23

Voices for Justice: 2022 Year in Review

Throughout 2022, the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) continued to deliver and grow its direct services to people seeking justice-related support.

First National Bank Alaska Supports Justice for Alaska Native People

The financial institution donated $5,000 to the Alaska Native Justice Center

Sponsors

Standing Together for Justice—Thank You.

Pillar of Justice: $10,000+

Champion of Justice: $5,000+

Defender of Justice: $2,500+

Friend of Justice: $1,000+


POSTS

Alaska Native Justice Center becomes CITC subsidiary

January 23, 2017, https://anjc.org/2017/01/1052/
On Oct. 1, 2016, ANJC — formerly a sister organization to CITC — became a subsidiary of CITC.

On October 1, 2016, CITC and the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) entered into a new era of partnership intended to strengthen ANJC’s services. ANJC, formerly a CITC sister organization, has been integrated into the CITC family as a non-profit subsidiary.

“ANJC will continue to promote justice through culturally based advocacy as it operates as an independent subsidiary of CITC,” said CITC President and CEO Gloria O’Neill. “ANJC’s existing services not only complement CITC’s, but have many areas of connection. This move aligns ANJC’s services more closely with CITC’s to create a stronger continuum of opportunities for participants.”

Established in 1993 by Cook Inlet Region, Inc. (CIRI) as a tribal nonprofit, ANJC addresses Alaska Natives’ unmet needs within the Alaska civil and criminal justice system. The organization offers adult reentry, coaching and mentoring, youth advocacy, and family law services to participants of all ethnicities while keeping its initiatives rooted in Alaska Native culture.

In addition to leveraging CITC’s grant-writing capabilities and funding sources to ensure ANJC programming sustainability, both organizations will work closely to develop a strong alignment of services, offering seamless access to participants and broadening connections and community resources.

Existing ANJC activities and events, such as its annual fundraiser, will continue. Please keep an eye out for a Save the Date, coming soon, for the 2017 ANJC Fundraiser.


A New Start

May 22, 2017, https://anjc.org/2017/05/a-new-start/

Partnership between ANJC and CITC helped Tina Roberson begin again

ANJC Administrative Assistant Tina Roberson’s experience moving from a bad situation at home to full-time employment and personal independence demonstrates how partnership between ANJC and CITC can help participants create a new start.

Tina Roberson can’t contain her enthusiasm when she talks about working as the Alaska Native Justice Center’s (ANJC) administrative assistant.

“When this job worked out, it was another thrilling moment. I’m getting excited about it all over again right now!” she exclaimed.

She’s got good reason to be thrilled: Through her own faith and determination — plus a helping hand from Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) — Tina completely re-made her life after finding herself at her lowest point.

“I was in a situation where I had lost everything,” she said. “No job, no car, no money. I’d always had a car before. Even learning the bus system was a challenge.”

She may have needed guidance navigating the bus system, but she didn’t need anyone to tell her where to go to get support. Tina left her old life behind on a Sunday, and first thing Monday morning, she showed up on the third floor at ANJC’s sister organization, CITC, where she knew she could sign up for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

“When I was approved for TANF, I was beyond joy,” Tina recalled. “But I knew I had to find my own income because I wasn’t willing to stay on TANF.”

She worked with a CITC job coach to find part-time work, then kept searching for something more permanent that could offer full-time hours. “But doors just weren’t opening, which was frustrating.”

Soon, she was able to afford her own car, which allowed her to pick up her two sons from school each day—and then she’d head straight to CITC to meet with her job coach or do job searches at the Alaska’s People Career Development Center. She fondly recalls one of her sons asking, “Mom, why do we always come here?” Her immediate answer: “Because they are helping me.”

“It came out before I even thought about it,” she said. “That’s a true testament to what CITC is all about.”

But during those days when she was looking for full-time work, she would often feel discouraged. Her job coach offered her more than job prospects during those moments: “There were many times she would point out positive things about me, reminding me of all the good things about myself. She helped me see that the situation I was in right then was not the final outcome. She said that when it’s the right time and place, it’ll come — and she was right.”

A CITC job coach and experience with CITC’s Career Ready Internship Program prepared Tina for her full-time job at ANJC.

Tina found out about an opening in CITC’s Career Ready internship program — an administrative position with ANJC. When she was chosen for the position, it was meant to be a temporary experience that would help her build job skills. But she wasn’t about to let an opportunity pass her by.

“That was my time to prove myself, and I didn’t hesitate,” she explained. “I can’t help but show who I am and what I have to offer. I thought, I’m going to do a good job and they’re going to know it.”

Tina quickly learned to direct individuals to the legal help they needed, telling them about the monthly Pro Se (“I can do it myself”) Clinics where participants can find help filing out legal documents for divorce or custody hearings. She also directed individuals recently released from prison to ANJC’s reentry program, which offers individualized case management, employment assistance, support in finding transportation and housing, in addition to other services.

Her hard work paid off: Today, when individuals looking for legal help walk into ANJC, they are greeted not only with Tina’s knowledge and assistance, but with the kind of empathy that comes with experience.

“I’ve had to go through legal issues myself, and I know it can be intimidating,” said Tina, who found assistance at ANJC herself when she attended the organization’s Divorce Pro Se Clinic to get help with legal forms. “Being able to support the people who come to ANJC and letting them know we’ll help them every way we can — that’s super rewarding. That’s what I get out of working here.”

In addition to running ANJC’s front desk, Tina does outreach in the community, informing other organizations, Alaska Native corporations, and partners about the services ANJC provides. Now Tina has a fulfilling full-time job, a steady income, stability in her life — and in her daughter’s life.

“When I got our apartment, my daughter came in, looked around, and then said, ‘We’re home.’” Tina smiles, recalling a day that was made possible through her work at ANJC. “She gave me a big hug. She was only two, but she knew this was our place.”


Voices for Justice: A Life Transformed

September 15, 2017, https://anjc.org/2017/09/voices-for-justice-a-life-transformed/

ANJC fundraiser makes re-starting life after prison possible

Jayson Buzby sat in prison, wondering what would happen next. He never could have predicted that he would get a phone call that would change everything.

“I had never really been in any kind of serious trouble before, and I had no idea if I was going to go away for years or decades,” Jayson recalled. At the time, he was struggling with a sever alcohol and drug addiction, which was what landed him in prison. “Then I got a phone call. Somebody close to me had died of an overdose. I hadn’t even known they were using drugs.”

“That moment, that was my breaking point,” he went on. “I decided that I was going to be open to new things and walk that positive path.”

But how does someone in the prison system find that positive path? Jayson did it with the help of the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC).

Choosing the Positive Path

You can help offer support for victims of domestic violence by attending ANJC’s annual fundraiser, or by making a donation today!

As part of its mission to achieve justice for Alaska Native people and other Alaskans, ANJC provides aid to individuals returning to society after incarceration through its Reentry program. The organization regularly conducts in-reach at Alaskan prisons, offering support groups, case management, reentry planning, and information on additional ANJC services that can help them successfully transition back into their lives upon release.

In prison, Jayson spotted a flyer advertising ANJC services. “I’d had a lot of time to sit and evaluate my life and realize that I wasn’t where I wanted to be,” he described. “There had to be something better out there.”

He reminded himself that he’d committed to trying new, positive things. That’s how he found himself sitting in on a meeting of fellow inmates, all of whom talked about their plans for the future, with an emphasis on learning to cope and deal with the situations life threw at them.

“I thought it was pretty cool, so I hung around,” Jayson said. That decision triggered a series of changes that would transform his life upon release.

A New Life

“By the time I got out of prison, I had burned pretty much every bridge,” Jayson admitted. But there was one bridge left: While incarcerated, Jayson had created real, trusting relationships with much of the ANJC staff. Upon his release, one of his first stops was at the ANJC offices.

“They were essentially my family and my welcoming party. I knew I didn’t have a lot of things figured out, but they were there to help me get plugged in and do the things I needed to do once I got out. They supported me and encouraged me, however I needed them to.”

For the previously incarcerated, ANJC provides life skills classes, vocational and work training resources, housing assistance, and community service participation.

In the life skills classes, Jayson received anger management training and coping skills. “Things you take for granted,” he described. “You don’t realize that not everyone is born with these tools in their toolbox — the stuff that helps you find success in life.”

He was heartened by the community service he participated in, too, like cleaning up local parts and aiding the homeless. “It’s not only important to make it out of that life of negativity, but to lend a helping hand to the people coming behind you,” he said.

With the guidance of ANJC, Jayson is now nine years sober — and his life has changed dramatically. Today, he is an upstanding Anchorage business owner, with a wife and two kids; he now owns two homes and has two dogs.

“I work hard every day,” he shared. “My life is mine to live, but you need those positive people there to encourage you to do that stuff — it makes all the difference in the world. That’s what ANJC was for me.”

For nearly 25 years, ANJC has been paving a positive path to success for those who are reentering society after incarceration. The work done by ANJC is made possible, in part, by our annual fundraiser. This year, the theme of our fundraiser is Voices for Justice, reflecting the many voices needed — from our staff, our supporters, our participants, and our community — to speak out for justice on behalf of Alaska Native people.


The Queen of Her Own Destiny

September 19, 2017, https://anjc.org/2017/09/the-queen-of-her-own-destiny/

ANJC fundraiser provides support for victims of domestic violence and others

 

What Miranda Childress remembers from the ambulance ride is the teddy bear. The one the paramedics gave her young daughter — something to comfort her during a scary moment. Miranda focused on the bear, perhaps to distract herself from the reality of her situation, and the reason she was riding in the back of an ambulance.

“I was married to my ex-husband for eight years, and the violence was really subtle at first,” Miranda recalled. “It was more emotional abuse, controlling and manipulating. It was so subtle, it was easy to ignore or justify away. The first documented violence was in 2012. I survived strangulation. My daughter witnessed it. But I wasn’t ready to break free from the cycle of abuse at that time.”

It’s an all-too-familiar story: Miranda’s husband at the time made promised to do better. But those promises were broken, and just a few years later, Miranda had packed her bags and sent her daughter to stay with her mother. She was waiting for the right moment to leave her husband for good.

That moment came when he threatened to kill her.

“He put his hands on me to show me how he would do it. He started throwing a knife around,” Miranda said. “I made up an excuse to go to my mom’s that night, and I haven’t looked back.”

Asking for Help

You can help offer support for victims of domestic violence by attending ANJC’s annual fundraiser, or by making a donation today!

Miranda got herself out of a dangerous situation, but she knew she couldn’t do the rest on her own: She needed to file for divorce, and she was determined to get sole custody of her daughter.

“I knew there was help available in the community, and I knew that having Alaska Native heritage, I had more resources available to tap into,” Miranda explained.

Although the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) provides services to all Alaskans, regardless of heritage or ethnicity, the organization’s name particularly draws Alaska Native people seeking assistance with their legal needs. ANJC offers services to those reentering society after incarceration, advocacy for victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and human trafficking, and assistance to those who need help in navigating the legal justice system — particularly when it comes to divorce and child custody cases.

The work done by ANJC is made possible, in part, by our annual fundraiser. This year, the theme of our fundraiser is Voices for Justice, reflecting the many voices needed — from our staff, our supporters, our participants, and our community — to speak out for justice on behalf of Alaska Native people.

At ANJC, Miranda met advocates and lawyers who helped her fill out the paperwork that would allow her to petition for a divorce and custody of her daughter.

“If you’re not a lawyer, reading that stuff is really difficult,” she described. “The packet felt like it was a mile high and full of legal terms, but the lawyers translated it into a language I could understand. They treated me with respect, they were patient and validated my feelings. They really encouraged me to help myself.”

ANJC staff was also able to offer suggestions regarding what Miranda might request in her divorce, and they prioritized her daughter’s safety and needs. Since she successfully filed for divorce, Miranda has returned to ANJC for additional assistance, filing protective orders or getting help with court hearings as necessary.

No Longer Shattered

Today, Miranda and her eight-year-old daughter spend more time together. Her daughter is doing well in school, and Miranda has a good job that allows her to support herself and her child.

“Knowing I’m capable of doing that has really had a positive impact on the way I feel about myself,” Miranda said. “I went from being shattered and broken and scared to being the queen of my own destiny.”

She’s grateful for the assistance she found at ANJC, but she’s even more grateful for the way ANJC encourages individuals to become advocates for themselves.

“We’re all leaders in our own way,” she said. “ANJC helps us remember that. And when more people are aware of their own strength, they can make a positive impact on the community, so it sets off a chain reaction.”

For nearly 25 years, ANJC has been amplifying the voices of Alaskans and Alaska Native people seeking justice. You can help make sure that all Alaskans have access to legal assistance and advocacy by making a donation to support the organization.


By the Numbers: ANJC Demonstrates Success through Impact

October 2, 2017, https://anjc.org/2017/10/by-the-numbers-anjc-demonstrates-success-through-impact/

If you’ve been keeping up with the Alaska Native Justice Center’s (ANJC) Voices for Justice campaign, you’ve read stories about how the organization has helped people like Miranda Childress and Jayson Buzby transform their lives. Since 1993, ANJC has been assisting Alaska Native people and other Alaskans within the justice system. This year’s ANJC Impact Report demonstrates the significant role ANJC plays in advocating for justice, assisting families, and paving the way for the previously incarcerated to find success.

 

Focus Areas

ANJC currently offers services and programs through three Pillars of Justice: Advocacy, Reentry, and Family Law. Starting in 2018, the organization will add Education, through which it will equip individuals with knowledge about the criminal justice system. Under its existing service areas, ANJC has affected the lives of thousands of Alaska Native people and Alaskans:

Social Justice Advocacy

Bringing partners together to advocate for fair and equitable treatment of Alaska Native people within the justice system

  • This year, ANJC championed the causes of 91 Tribal members.
  • We have advocated for 6,100 individuals since 1993.
  • For 73% of those assisted, we provided case management and guidance during legal interactions.
  • The court system has granted long-term protective orders to every single individual who sought one with the assistance of ANJC.

Restorative Justice (Reentry)

Providing those returning to society after incarceration with the tools they need to successfully rebuild their lives

  • Since 2006, we have helped 1,893 previously incarcerated individuals find a stable and productive life outside of prison.
  • This year, we assisted nearly 500 individuals.
  • 48% of those assisted this year are now employed or working on their educational goals.
  • Nearly 52% have connected with healthcare, behavioral health, or social activities that provide positive support.

Advocacy for Victims (Family Law)

Standing up for the rights of Alaska Native people and providing the tools they need to advocate for themselves

  • In 2017, ANJC served 18 participants through its family law programs.
  • More than 82% of those served in the Family Law program have experienced successful outcomes since 2014.

Growing Together

May 19, 2018, https://anjc.org/2018/05/growing-together/

One year after becoming a CITC subsidiary, the Alaska Native Justice Center looks back on its growth — and forward to its next phase

Since becoming a subsidiary of Cook Inlet Tribal Council, the Alaska Native Justice Center has seen significant growth, including increased staff and services delivered to more people. Here, ANJC Director of Program Operations Tammy Ashley speaks to graduates from ANJC’s Adult Reentry program.

“Do more with less.” This is the constant struggle for most nonprofits — how to meet the growing needs of the increasing number of individuals seeking service, despite budget constraints and limited staff? Like other nonprofits, the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) frequently asked this question as its employees worked to address the justice needs of Alaska Native and other people.

The answer came in the form of a new collaboration. In 2016, ANJC became a subsidiary of Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC). The new partnership was meant to more closely align ANJC’s services with CITC’s and to provide additional administrative and funding support for ANJC.

About a year and a half after this change, ANJC has grown tremendously and in more ways than one. But the growing pains normally experienced by a rapidly evolving organization have been eased by CITC’s administrative assistance. And thanks to the alliance between the two nonprofits, ANJC is planning for an even bigger and brighter future.

Growing Fast

As ANJC Director of Operations Tammy Ashley reflects on all that’s changed over the course of one year, she looks slightly astonished.

“We more than doubled our grants for advocacy and reentry,” she reviewed, singling out ANJC’s two main focus areas: Adult Reentry, which aims to effectively and successfully reintegrate those who have been in prison back into society; and Advocacy for Victims, which supports individuals who have been physically, emotionally, or sexually abused by a partner or are seeking assistance with civil legal issues related to family law. The Advocacy team also assists victims of human trafficking.

ANJC was already growing before its new partnership with CITC. The Advocacy team has expanded tremendously, with three new case managers, a project coordinator, a program manager, and a tribal liaison now on board. Reentry has grown as well, with five new employees, including two practicum students who are completing hours needed for their degrees. And nearly 70 percent of these new hires have been Alaska Native.

“We’ve grown so much in the last year,” Tammy explained. “Not just in terms of capacity, but because of that, we were able to take on all the people who came to us seeking assistance. We’ve nearly doubled the number of reentry participants we’re serving.”

More Staff Means More Services

ANJC’s increased staff means the organization can offer more for participants, including activities like cultural night, during which ANJC staff and participants made dreamcatchers.

ANJC’s enhanced capacity ensures that those who need justice help get it, while new methods of tracking participants’ cases provides greater consistency in service.

It also allows the organization to do more education about its services and to go outside of Anchorage to areas of the state where individuals might not have easy access to advocacy help. Already, ANJC has traveled to several communities across the state to raise awareness around its services. ANJC advocates can now also offer over-the-phone case management to those communities on a weekly basis.

“Privacy is a major barrier to getting help for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault who live in rural communities,” Tammy explained. “An individual may not want to go to the local shelter because someone who works there is related to them, or related to their abuser. That’s why access to case management outside the community is important. And if they need more, we will refer them to the right place to get help.”

What’s Next?

ANJC staff participate in a national movement to wear blue to raise awareness about human trafficking.

Over the next three years, ANJC plans to take its services to 18 different communities, in the hopes of establishing “hubs” from which surrounding smaller communities can also access assistance. Staff will work closely with partners like local tribes, CITC’s community liaisons, and Indian Child Welfare Act advocates to see how they can address specific justice issues. Back in Anchorage, ANJC is becoming more integrated with other advocacy organizations like Standing Together Against Rape (STAR), Alaska Legal Services, AWAIC, and Hope Community Resources.

But increased advocacy is just one of several goals the organization has for the near future.

ANJC also aims to develop a youth-focused program that would offer mentoring, support for education and employment, and other services that would prevent at-risk youth from entering the system. The organization is also interested in reaching youth interested in careers in the criminal justice system. In 2019, ANJC will provide logistical support for the Color of Justice program, which introduces youth to law-related opportunities.

“We’re also looking at broadening our client base,” Tammy shared, adding that she hopes to facilitate training for some of ANJC’s case managers to be able to work with sex offenders. “It’s difficult for sex offenders to find treatment or a reentry program that will accept them, which makes it hard for them to comply with their requirements to stay out of prison. That’s a need we could meet.”

The Power of Partnership

ANJC staff join a walk to celebrate recovery. One of the organization’s two primary programs helps those recovering from substance abuse.

How is all this possible? Tammy cites the partnership between CITC and ANJC.

“Since we became a subsidiary, we’ve been able to apply for more grants,” she elaborated. “Through collaboration with CITC’s Human Resources department, we were able to really look at our internal policies and procedures, we’ve gotten support for employee issues and strategic hiring, plus we have access to new employee orientation and training opportunities. CITC Accounting has taken on our finances and budget. We have computer support from CITC’s Information Technology department and development help from CITC’s fundraising staff, which made our Voices for Justice event last year a huge success. This integration has been very successful — we are part of the CITC family.”

The joining of CITC’s forces with ANJC’s specialized focus on justice issues is a testament to the power of partnership.


New Tech Supports Justice in Anchorage and Beyond

June 13, 2018, https://anjc.org/2018/06/new-tech-supports-justice-in-anchorage-and-beyond/

Rasmuson technology grant makes expanded services possible

ANJC Reentry Case Manager Kayla Cox uses a Surface Pro laptop, made possible by a grant from Rasmuson Foundation, to work with a participant

Over the course of just one year, the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) doubled its outreach. That means twice the number of victims of domestic violence receiving culturally sensitive advocacy. Twice the number of families finding assistance with court documents and legal representation. Twice the number of men and women being supported as they reenter society after incarceration.

And it means twice the amount of work for ANJC employees. But thanks to an $18,000 grant from the Rasmuson Foundation, ANJC has new tools to deliver its services to those in need here in Anchorage and beyond.

The funding provides for new technology that allows ANJC’s highly mobile staff to provide services both in the Anchorage office and on the road, as they connect individuals across the state with the support and advocacy they need.

Laptops for Justice

“We’ve significantly ramped up outreach, connecting with people in the community, particularly in the Native community,” described ANJC Director of Program Operations Tammy Ashley. “Over the next three years, we aim to visit 18 communities outside of Anchorage to provide case management and create awareness around what ANJC does.”

But providing case management on the road is impossible if you don’t have the tools. With the Rasmuson funding, ANJC staff is equipped with five Microsoft Surface Pro tablets that provide them with remote access when doing work off-site.

“They’re very convenient because we can take them downstairs for support group or Moral Reconation Therapy,” said Nayade Perez, ANJC Reentry Program Manager. “It’s really convenient and ensures consistency of our services because we can make appointments in person with people instead of dragging ten or twelve participants upstairs or hoping they’ll call us later for follow-up.”

“We know that even relatively small grants can help nonprofits make a big difference. This work by the justice center is so important.” – Diane Kaplan, Rasmuson Foundation president and CEO

Each Surface Pro is outfitted with Windows 10 and the Microsoft Office Suite of programs. In addition to the Surface Pros, Rasmuson funding was used to purchase three desk jet printers, a payroll software package, Adobe Pro packages, and five Think Pad Lenovo laptops.

Rasmuson Foundation awards a number of grants each year for technology projects.

“We know that even relatively small grants can help nonprofits make a big difference,” said Diane Kaplan, Rasmuson Foundation president and CEO. “Laptops are a simple addition that can help dedicated workers do their jobs better in the field. This work by the justice center is so important.”

While some items will support administrative work at ANJC, items like the Surface Pros and Think Pads make bringing ANJC services to participants who can’t come to the Anchorage office that much easier.

Nayade, for example, can now access participant files or email parole officers as she sits with a client after a group therapy session, rather than returning to the office to do so.

“I use the Surface for everything,” she explained. “It’s a powerful piece of equipment, but the most important part is that it’s portable.”

Let’s Get Talking

“I get distracted easily, so it’s helpful to have a quiet space,” offered Dwayne Elia, who came to ANJC seeking support for his transition out of prison.

ANJC Reentry Case Manager Benjamin Briggs works the organization’s Talking Room, where clients can work on paperwork or hold private conversations.

Although Dwayne was excited to “learn to instinctively do the right thing” with the help of ANJC, he wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of having to fill out the small stack of paperwork required to get reentry assistance from ANJC. The paperwork was made easier, though, when he learned there was a quiet, private place for him to complete it.

ANJC’s Talking Room has been in use a little over a year, said Reentry Case Manager Benjamin Briggs. Recently, the Rasmuson grant made the space more useful by providing new technology that allows staff to better serve the participants who require a little more privacy or solitude. A new, dedicated inkjet printer and computer allows participants use of the tools they need to fill out complicated paperwork in an environment where they can focus.

The room also provides a quiet place for victims of domestic violence to work with case managers on divorce packets or to make sensitive phone calls that require privacy.

ANJC is hurtling toward the future, expanding in new ways and bringing justice services to those in need far beyond Anchorage. Thanks to Rasmuson Foundation, the agency now has the tools it needs to do so.


Mentee Becomes Mentor

October 4, 2018, https://anjc.org/2018/10/mentee-becomes-mentor/

Daniel Bushey learned to use his voice as a mentor after overcoming addiction and finding a familiar face at ANJC.

“I could stay sober, but I couldn’t deal with life” is how Daniel Bushey describes the first few years after he got out of prison. He’d served a twenty-year sentence and had gotten recovery help for his drug and alcohol addiction.

But twenty years in prison changes a person. “After that much time knowing where my bunk was, being fed — when I got out, I couldn’t adjust. I thought I could handle everything myself, but I had ADD so I self-medicated. I’ve had I don’t know how many drug violations.”

ADD, or attention-deficit disorder, had haunted Daniel even before society fully recognized it as a disorder. As a kid, he bounced around from foster home to group homes to emergency shelters after his father died. “No one would put up with me,” he recalled. “I lived on the streets after my foster family let me leave. I lived in abandoned apartments and stole cars.”

Thanks to his long history with jail time, Daniel had known his parole officer for a long time. She was the one who recommended that he seek out reentry services, which are specifically targeted toward reintegrating individuals back into society successfully, to prevent that individual from re-offending.

That’s when Daniel remembered seeing a sign for the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC), which offers reentry support in addition to social justice advocacy and family law services.

Daniel came to ANJC for help, but what he found was a familiar face.

Benjamin Briggs, now one of three adult reentry case managers with ANJC, had once served time himself — in fact, he had served alongside Daniel, who remembered him from prison. For Daniel, seeing Benny — successful, gainfully employed, now in a position of helping others — made all the difference.

“I knew Benny had been in the same place I was, so I trusted him,” Daniel shared. “Seeing Benny, it opened my eyes more to the information given to me, and I took it in. Before, when I took classes or did meetings, I didn’t want to be there — I spent the whole time looking at my watch. But now I looked forward to coming.”

Daniel took ANJC’s Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) classes, which are designed to equip individuals reentering society after imprisonment with better decision-making, moral reasoning, and appropriate behavior. Each year, ANJC supports hundreds of individuals seeking to reestablish themselves after release. In 2017, the organization was successful in connecting 52 percent of its reentry population with healthcare and behavioral health services; 48 percent became gainfully employed or began working toward educational goals.

Daniel also attended an ANJC support group and worked with his case manager, Nelly Perez, and with Benny as his peer-mentor as he maintained his sobriety, found work, and got in good standing with his parole officer. With the assistance of ANJC, and through his own determination, Daniel transformed his life so completely that at a court hearing, even the prosecutor had to admit about him: “This is a changed man.”

Today, Daniel has followed in Benny’s footsteps, becoming a mentor himself. “There’s guys in jail right now who could use my story. I changed. I did twenty years in prison and I’ve lived a rough life. I still have my struggles. But if I can inspire someone else — if they can see I’m succeeding, maybe they will, too.”

Daniel has his own business, now, and he uses it to give men like him that second chance they need after leaving prison. At Bushey Madness Automotive, men learn mechanical skills and make a living repairing cars under Daniel’s guidance.

“If I can help someone who’s struggling, maybe it can show them — you can’t give up,” he said. “ANJC doesn’t give up, so I’m not giving up, either.”

 


The Power of Belief

October 10, 2018, https://anjc.org/2018/10/the-power-of-belief/

The Alaska Native Justice Center’s annual Voices for Justice fundraiser supports programs that advocate on behalf of victims of domestic abuse. For former participant Marlene Mack, hearing the words “I believe you” changed everything.

I believe you. Three small words, but when Marlene Mack first came to the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC), her greatest fear was that she would not hear them.

“My husband at the time was undiagnosed with a mental disorder,” she explained. “We would go through a cycle — he would be convinced people were following him, that someone was after him. He accused me of selling drugs, of being part of the FBI. He got violent. It got to the point where the kids and I would go to hotels to get away from his rage.”

After a drug-fueled fight got Marlene’s husband arrested and assigned to a court-ordered facility to address his addiction, she hoped that getting clean would improve his anger. But things only got worse. “I started reaching out for help, but it was hard,” she said. “He wouldn’t allow me to have a cell phone without monitoring it. I couldn’t have money for food.” Eventually, Marlene found herself at ANJC.

“I walked into ANJC scared to death — I wondered if anyone was going to believe me.” Because she was afraid of her husband’s retaliation, Marlene had never reported any of his abuse.

She met Mike Schaeffer, ANJC’s staff attorney at the time, and went through the interview process to see if he would take on her case. “At first, Mike was very lawyer-y, asking tough questions. There was a lot of anxiety for me because sharing your story is tough. After he listened to my situation, he said he would take my case.

“It was a huge relief,” Marlene said. Finally, somebody was seeing and hearing me.

That was only the beginning of a long, tough process — but along the whole way, ANJC was there to support Marlene and her children. The ANJC advocacy team helped her find a home for her family and took her to her first food bank. Mike not only helped her obtain a protective order, but explained what it meant and what she needed to do to enforce it. ANJC helped and encouraged her get therapy for both her and her children.

Most of all, though, the people on ANJC’s advocacy team made Marlene feel like she had a voice.

“My self-care was just as important to them,” she elaborated. “I would share with Mike that I was still sleeping on the couch because I was afraid my ex-husband would get into the house — which he did several times. I would find him hovering over me. Just to have that contact and support from ANJC, to be heard and believed, was so important.”

Marlene is still involved with ANJC today — no longer as a client, but as a Program Manager for the Advocacy team.

“After going through something like that, you want to give back,” she said. “I was giving to ANJC through Pick.Click.Give, but I wanted to do more. Then this position opened.”

Marlene does what she can to get the word out about ANJC’s services for Alaska Native people and others, and she hopes support from others in the community will help raise awareness about ANJC.

She is also able to share her own experience with individuals who find themselves going through what she went through.

“I hope it’s powerful for people to see that we all share the same terror, the fear that nobody will believe you, the struggle to rebuild through that process. I think sharing my own story with clients has empowered others to say, ‘Yes, I can do this and will get through it.’”

In other words, when someone comes to ANJC with a story they’re afraid to share, Marlene gets to be the one who can say to them those three crucial words: “I believe you.”

 


Year in Review 2018 – Growing Together

December 1, 2018, https://anjc.org/2018/12/year-in-review-2018-growing-together/

One year after becoming a CITC subsidiary, ANJC looks back on its growth—and forward to its next phase

In 2016, ANJC became a subsidiary of Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC). The new partnership was meant to more closely align ANJC’s services with CITC’s and to provide additional administrative and funding support for ANJC.

About a year and a half after this change, ANJC has grown tremendously and in more ways than one.
“We more than doubled our grants for advocacy and reentry,” reviewed ANJC Director of Operations Tammy Ashley, singling out ANJC’s two main focus areas: Adult Reentry, which aims to effectively and successfully reintegrate those who have been in prison back into society; and Advocacy for Victims, which supports individuals who have been physically, emotionally, or sexually abused by a partner or are seeking assistance with civil legal issues related to family law. The Advocacy team also assists victims of human trafficking.

ANJC has increased its staff, as well; 75 percent of these new hires have been Alaska Native. This enhanced capacity ensures that those who need justice help get it, while new methods of tracking participants’ cases provides greater consistency in service.

It also allows the organization to do more education about its services and to go outside of Anchorage to areas of the state where individuals might not have easy access to advocacy help. Already, ANJC has traveled to several communities across the state to raise awareness around its services. ANJC advocate/ case managers can now also offer over-the-phone case management to those communities on a weekly basis.

“Privacy is a major barrier to getting help for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault who live in rural communities,” Tammy explained. “An individual may not want to go to the local shelter because someone who works there is related to them, or related to their abuser. That’s why access to case management outside the community is important. And if they need more, we will refer them to the right place to get help.”

What’s Next?

  • Service expansion: 18 community “hubs” established to serve rural Alaskans
  • Increased advocacy: Additional partnerships with other advocacy organizations
  • Broadened client base: Services for rehabilitating sex offenders
  • Youth-focused programs: Mentoring and support for at-risk youth

“Laptops for Justice” Saves the Day

February 8, 2019, https://anjc.org/2019/02/laptops-for-justice-saves-the-day/

In the wake of the Nov. 30 earthquake, a grant from the Rasmuson Foundation was the unexpected hero that kept ANJC from delaying services

Thanks to a grant from the Rasmuson Foundation, ANJC employees had laptops that allowed them to keep services for participants consistent through the Nov. 30 earthquake.

When a Rasmuson Foundation grant provided the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) with laptops that would allow staff to work remotely with communities across Alaska, no one was thinking about earthquakes. But thanks to the Laptops for Justice project, within just one week of the November 30 earthquake, ANJC was operating at 80 percent capacity. By December 31, the organization was 100 percent operational.

“Without that grant, we would not have been at 80 percent as soon as we were,” stated Tammy Ashley, ANJC Director of Operations. “Before the Rasmuson grant, I was the only staff person with a laptop. We were blessed to have that grant because it meant that we were able to get up and running and serving our participants within days of the earthquake.”

Disruption of Services

ANJC Project Coordinator Sarah Martinchick and Re-entry Case Manager Benjamin Briggs work in a temporary space in the immediate aftermath of the Nov. 30, 2018, earthquake, which displaced ANJC from the Nat’uh Service Center.

On November 30, 2018, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake shook Anchorage and surrounding communities, causing damage to homes, businesses, and roads.

The Nat’uh Service Center, home to Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) and its subsidiary ANJC, as well as to The CIRI Foundation and Koahnic Broadcast Corporation, experienced severe damage due to the earthquake. On December 2, CITC announced that the closure of the service center would continue; lead staff was already planning for the relocation of CITC service departments.

Meanwhile, six ANJC staff were huddled at two desks in the Qech’henu Transportation Center on the CITC campus.

Two administrative staff, two Re-entry Program staff, and two Advocacy case managers immediately began responding to the earthquake’s aftermath, serving as a crisis team for anyone who came looking for direct services. They contacted ANJC participants to make sure they were safe.

Because they had laptops that allowed them to work from anywhere, they were able to connect to the ANJC database, collaborate with partners, and refer individuals to resources.

“Any disruption of service wasn’t because of an inability to connect online,” Tammy explained. “Our support groups couldn’t meet, but we could do one-on-ones with participants at coffee shops or other safe spaces. Our communication with each other and with participants was enhanced because we were able to work remotely.

“I couldn’t imagine if we didn’t have the laptops made possible by the Rasmuson Foundation,” Tammy added. “Without them, the services provided by our department may have been delayed until after Christmas.”

Continued Support

Instead, by December 8, all ANJC staff were working remotely and had connected with 100 percent of their participants and partners.

Ensuring that services and programs experienced as little disruption as possible was essential, said Tammy.

“For many of the people we serve, the earthquake was a traumatic event on top of other trauma already happening in their lives. Our biggest goal was making sure our participants didn’t have additional disruptions, not just to the plans we made with them, but in their lives. We provided gift cards for those who had emergency needs. For many people, we recommended paying attention to self-care. Many of them don’t realize how added stress can disrupt their success plan.”

ANJC Re-entry Case Manager Kayla Cox works on a tablet provided by a Rasmuson Foundation grant for Laptops for Justice.

“I am positive that our participants were appreciative through the course of our displacement because of our ability to operate professionally under the circumstances,” added Re-entry Case Manager Benny Briggs. “This would not have been possible if we had not had our laptops.”

Continuing services as planned was also helpful for ANJC staff.

“I carried my laptop in a big purse, along with other items, and it became my mobile office,” recalled Nayade Perez, a Reentry Program manager. “I connected with a few participants via email — my main priority was to know they were okay. I can honestly say that as traumatized as I was immediately after the earthquake, working from home on my laptop kept me from thinking about everything else that was happening.”

Today, ANJC staff is back together, operating out of a temporary space at 1835 Bragaw St., Suite 425. Support groups are meeting regularly once more. Thanks to the laptops provided by the Rasmuson Foundation, though, and the ANJC staff’s quick response post-earthquake, services and programs never stopped.

“I am positive that our participants were appreciative through the course of our displacement because of our ability to operate professionally under the circumstances. This would not have been possible if we had not had our laptops.”

“The Foundation is grateful for the work Alaska Native Justice Center staff provides to our community,” said Sharity Sommer, a Foundation program officer who oversaw the grant. “After the earthquake, ANJC exemplified what community is about, helping others during a time of need. We’re delighted to hear the impact a handful of laptops, provided through a Tier 1 grant, have had in aiding ANJC staff to carry out their work.”

“We were fortunate to have the laptops, plus a dedicated team who, while working remotely, were able to continue communication and services to participants. It says a lot of the commitment and perseverance of the ANJC team,” Tammy said.

Information about the temporary relocation of other CITC departments and subsidiaries is available here.


ANJC to Offer Tribal Assistance in ICWA Cases

February 28, 2019, https://anjc.org/2019/02/anjc-to-offer-tribal-assistance-in-icwa-cases/

Under a new grant, ANJC will offer guidance and legal representation in Anchorage courts for all Tribes statewide

Alaska Native and American Indian (Native) children make up only 19 percent of the kids in the state of Alaska, yet more than 50 percent of the children in out-of-home care are Native. In Anchorage, the number is higher: While the percentage of Native kids is only 9 percent, they make up over 60 percent of those in out-of-home care.

These are children who have been removed from their parents’ care due to allegations of abuse or neglect. They may be placed with relatives or with foster families.

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is a federal law passed to counteract frequent misuse of state proceedings which resulted in widespread removal of Native children from their families. The ICWA protects and preserves the bond between Native children and their Tribe and recognizes Tribes’ right to intervene and participate in certain State cases. However, unlike other parties, Tribes are not appointed attorneys.

And oftentimes, ICWA caseworkers intervening on behalf of children are working from remote villages and can only appear in Anchorage court proceedings by telephone.

“A voice on the phone is not nearly as effective as in-person representation,” said Chad Holt, an attorney who recently joined the team at Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC).

Along with a second attorney and two paralegals, Chad will work under a new grant that offers legal representation for Alaska Native Tribes in ICWA cases. It’s a significant step toward helping the state of Alaska follow the ICWA mandate.

A Voice without Representation

Think about the last conference call you were on: the confusion of people talking over one another, the difficulty of collaborating with people you can’t see. Now throw in an entire dictionary’s worth of legal terms. That’s what calling into Anchorage for a court proceeding can be like for tribal ICWA coordinators.

Each Tribe strives to provide good ICWA services, but funding, recruitment and retention can be challenging. “Some Tribes have a dedicated ICWA coordinator; others have a half-time person,” explained Joshua Ahsoak, the second ICWA attorney joining ANJC.

ICWA’s mandate requires states to make active efforts to prevent removal of children from their parents’ or Alaska Native custodian and to reunify an Alaska Native child with their parent/custodian after removal.

ICWA/Child of Need Aid (CINA) dependency cases and state custody cases are very unique. “If you’re not used to the process,” Chad went on, “it’s very hard to call in and understand what’s going on and be able to achieve the Tribe’s goals.”

That’s where CITC and ANJC come in. Thanks to a new grant awarded to CITC by the Bureau of Indian Affairs – Office of Tribal Justice, ANJC now offers legal representation for Tribes involved in CINA hearings in Anchorage Superior Court.

Tribal Assistance

“The Tribes will be our clients, and our primary duty is to them,” Josh clarified. Another goal is to increase capacity for Tribes and tribal organizations to appropriately intervene in ICWA cases.

“There’s a huge need in the Native community for Tribes to have a voice in the Anchorage area. We will represent Tribes based on what they want and what they need.”

Chad, Josh, and their team are reaching out to Tribes, villages, and tribal organizations to build relationships and offer assistance to Tribes in engaging in Anchorage CINA cases. Right now the ICWA team is making calls and presenting at tribal forums.

These initial efforts have already resulted in Tribes calling and seeking representation. Outreach will continue while the team begins representing Tribes in Anchorage CINA cases. Chad and Josh aim to offer representation in 40 cases in the first year of the grant.

“There’s a huge need in the Native community for Tribes to have a voice in the Anchorage area,” said Tammy Ashley, ANJC Director of Program Operations. “This grant will enable that to happen. We will represent Tribes based on what they want and what they need.”

Tribes interested in finding legal representation with ANJC can email icwa@anjc.net or call (907) 793-3550. Individuals who are looking for help navigating the Anchorage Court System can find resources at anjc.org or by calling (907) 793-3550.


The Reality of Reentry

June 13, 2019, https://anjc.org/2019/06/the-reality-of-reentry/

Alaska’s first reentry simulation emphasizes the challenges of reentering society after leaving prison

Benjamin Briggs couldn’t buy a bus pass. He didn’t have enough money, and he couldn’t sell plasma at the local donation center because he didn’t feel well. With no pass, he missed work, which meant he got fired. With no job, he couldn’t pay for the urine analysis he was required to do for his parole officer. Before Benjamin knew it, he was back in prison after only a few moments of freedom.

Fortunately, he was released again after just a few minutes.

An Eye-Opening Experience

ANJC Reentry Case Managers Michael Farahjood and Benjamin Briggs participated in Alaska’s first reentry simulation. Their role was to challenge participants with real-life obstacles that make reentry difficult for those leaving the prison system.

On April 17, the Anchorage Reentry Coalition held Alaska’s first reentry simulation, an event intended to build understanding of the real-world challenges faced by those exiting the prison system and trying to reenter the community.

“The intention is to raise awareness about how complicated reentry is after incarceration,” said Jonathan Pistotnik, Anchorage Reentry Coalition Coordinator, who led the effort to bring the simulation to Alaska. “If you don’t have a connection to someone who has been incarcerated, it’s easy to brush it off. But reentry is a community issue.”

Based on similar simulations held in the Lower Forty-Eight and adapted for Alaska by Jonathan and Yulonda Candelario from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Anchorage, the event is meant to engage individuals who don’t necessarily have connections to the reentry community. Participants in the simulation are given a list of actual tasks that real-world reentrants have to complete upon being released from prison; tasks might include things like checking in with a probation officer, obtaining ID, finding employment, accessing social services and handling unexpected events.

As participants move through the activity, they find themselves running up against barriers that make reentry difficult and may even result in their return to prison.

“At the end of the event, the organizers asked how many participants ended up going back to jail,” said Benjamin, an Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) reentry case manager who volunteered at the April 17 simulation. “Nearly everyone had ended up back in jail because they couldn’t complete their tasks in the amount of time they were given. It’s an eye-opening experience.”

Barriers to Reentry

According to the Alaska Department of Corrections, 66.4 percent of Alaskans released from incarceration return to prison within three years of release. Two-thirds of those individuals return to custody within just six months.

“Reentry is a community issue.”

“The system is not set up for re-entrants to succeed,” explained Nayade Perez, a reentry program manager with ANJC who volunteered at the reentry simulation.

People who successfully reenter the community after being imprisoned do so because they have access to stabilizing factors, such as safe housing, employment, access to behavioral health services, and a positive, supportive network of family or friends. Without one or more of these resources, though, the likelihood that an individual reoffends and winds up back in prison increases.

While Anchorage offers resources through organizations like the Anchorage Reentry Coalition, Cook Inlet Tribal Council, and ANJC, said Jonathan, “Reentry after incarceration is complicated. It’s easy to overlook how a reentrant can be affected by something like going to the DMV — which, for most of us, is an easy task. But for someone coming back into society after years, it’s a real challenge. It assumes you have the time, that you know how to get there, that you have the money for fees. What if you don’t have a safe place to live? — how do you even have the capacity to take care of small tasks?”

The Reality of the Simulation

“People got frustrated when they would get sent back to jail for any number of real-life reasons,” said ANJC Reentry Case Manager Kayla Cox, who volunteered at the simulation. “It was a very eye-opening experience for everyone who participated.”

“When someone goes back to jail, it’s not because they want to reoffend,” explained Nayade, who said she experienced “flashbacks” at the April 17 simulation.

She volunteered as the banker at the event, handing out amounts of cash that didn’t seem like they would be enough for most participants to pay for all the items and tasks they needed to complete.

When Nayade was re-establishing her life after being released from jail eight years ago, something as simple as getting to an appointment on time would be an all-day effort. Busses often ran late, so Nayade would leave three hours early just to ensure she didn’t miss her appointments. She often spent several hours of her day just getting to and from somewhere.

“Within 30 days of release, you have so much to do, it’s overwhelming,” she said. “That’s why a lot of people don’t succeed.”

Engaging the Community

After the success of the April 17 simulation, the Anchorage Reentry Coalition is holding a second simulation on June 24 at the BP Energy Center. This time, said Jonathan, the target audience will include policy makers and people from sectors that don’t work in reentry.

“When someone goes back to jail, it’s not because they want to reoffend.”

“Engaging sectors like the business community, for example, is very important,” he elaborated. “They’re not a traditional partner in reentry, but our local businesses are the ones who might be hiring someone coming out of prison. They’re vital to the conversation.”

Employees of ANJC, including Benjamin and Nayade, will once again volunteer as bankers, parole officers, potential employers, and social service workers who present barriers to those participating. Yulonda will also help coordinate this second event. “Yulonda was key in making the first event happen,” said Jonathan. “She’s been my ally in making this a reality.

“When a reentrant succeeds, everyone in the community benefits from that success,” Yulonda said. “It only makes sense from a public safety and criminal justice standpoint that communities aid and guide reentrants into successful reentry.”

“We want to make this a regular activity, if we can,” he added. “We’re hopeful that as we refine it and make it more Alaska-specific, we can host the simulation with Fairbanks, the Mat-Su Valley, and other communities, as we continue the conversation about how to support reentrants in our state.”


ANJC Receives National Award for Legal Reform Advocacy

September 3, 2019, https://anjc.org/2019/09/anjc-receives-national-award-for-legal-reform-advocacy/
ANJC Director of Operations Tammy Ashley, pictured with CITC General Counsel Lisa Rieger, accepted the Foundation for Improvement of Justice award at a ceremony on Sept. 28, 2019.

In September 2018, Alaskans — and the Alaskan Native community, in particular—were outraged to see Justin Schneider walk free after he was arrested for kidnapping a Native woman, choking her unconscious, and masturbating on her. The nuances of sentencing, which allowed Schneider to avoid serving any prison time, would become known as the “Schneider loophole.”

The court’s ruling ignited a movement, led in part by the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC), to reform Alaska’s sexual offense laws. ANJC’s advocacy would ultimately lead to the passage of Senate Bill 12, which corrects significant gaps in current sexual assault laws.

In recognition of this work, ANJC is one of six organizations nationwide to be honored with the 2019 Paul H. Chapman Award from the Foundation for the Improvement of Justice.

The award recognizes individuals or organizations whose innovative programs and work have made improvements in the justice system.

The Ideal Advocate

Nine days. That’s all ANJC had to research, write, and submit two resolutions to the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) that would address sexual assault laws.

ANJC Director of Operations Tammy Ashley speaks at the Foundation for Improvement of Justice banquet.

“AFN General Counsel Nicole Borromeo approached our board and presented to them — she encouraged us to look at the process for when a crime happens, how is someone charge, and being consistent with those charges,” said ANJC Director of Operations Tammy Ashley.

The ANJC team made a comprehensive review of the state’s current sexual assault laws and ultimately submitted two resolutions. One, “supporting changes in state statutes to make the conduct involved in the recent case involving an assault on a Native woman a sex offense and support for a general review of state statutes regarding sex offenses by the criminal justice commission”; the other “calling for an outside investigation of the disparate treatment in the state criminal justice system of cases involving Native offenders and victims.” Both resolutions were passed.

ANJC was the ideal organization to bring the resolutions to AFN, Tammy said.

“ANJC’s whole history was based on legal reform — that’s how we started. It’s a key pillar in our mission: to stand up for the rights of Alaska Native people and to advocate for fair and equitable treatment of our people within the justice system.”

Based on AFN’s action around the resolutions and on the ANJC’s advocacy, Alaska State Senator Peter Micciche introduced Senate Bill 12, which would rectify the sentencing structure of crimes similar to the one committed by Schneider.

The bill was passed into law in May 2019.

“A Landmark Achievement”

ANJC staff at the Foundation for Improvement of Justice’s banquet.

“One of ANJC’s greatest strengths is its ability to bring partners together to affect real systems change,” wrote Cook Inlet Tribal Council President and CEO Gloria O’Neill in her letter nominating ANJC for the Paul H. Chapman Award. “ANJC is a leader in advocating for and providing assistance to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.”

ANJC was presented the Paul H. Chapman Award and a check for $10,000 at an event in Atlanta on September 28.

“This is a landmark achievement for ANJC,” said ANJC Board Chair Gail R. Schubert. “Not only does this award recognize the extraordinary work done to improve Alaska’s sexual offense laws and increase safety for Alaska Native people, but it also shows the importance of advocacy for victims and equal treatment for all throughout Alaska’s justice system — something ANJC has been dedicated to for more than 25 years.”

The Foundation for Improvement of Justice is a private not-for-profit institution founded in 1984 for the purpose of improving local, state, and federal systems of justice within the United States of America.


Ready For Change

October 18, 2019, https://anjc.org/2019/10/ready-for-change/

Cora Moonin needed to get out of the halfway house. She had sworn to herself that this time, after being in and out of jail since 2013, she would commit to making real change. She was making great progress, but she liked to get away from the halfway house whenever she could. So when someone handed her a flyer for Cook Inlet Tribal Council’s Fall Job Fair, she thought, Why not?

That flyer would change everything.

Wanting It

You missed out on so much already. Those words, spoken by Cora’s daughter, broke Cora’s heart.

But it was true: For years, Cora had focused on getting high, even though it meant that her children had to stay with their dad. “Then my own dad passed away, and I used that as an excuse to go deeper into drugs,” Cora recalled.

She’d been to jail for a short time before, but when she was arrested again, she served ten months. During that time, she got sober. And she was surprised to find that, for the first time, she wanted to change.

“Before, I didn’t care,” she said. “I didn’t have a job for a long time. I didn’t want to change. But toward the end of that ten months, I was doing so good. I felt better, healthier, and I was just tired of how things had been.”

From the halfway house, Cora started talking to her kids again and rebuilding her relationship with them. But if she wanted them to stay with her, she would have to create real change in her life.

That’s where the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) would come in.

In Her Shoes

CITC holds a Job Fair twice each year. It was at the most recent Job Fair that Cora Moonin connected with ANJC.

At the Job Fair, Cora struck up a conversation with a participant manning the ANJC booth. That day, she didn’t learn about a job, but about Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) — a cognitive-behavioral program that leads to better moral reasoning, decision-making, and appropriate behavior among offenders and those who struggle with substance abuse.

Cora had never undergone treatment for her addiction. “Everyone was like, why would you just join MRT?” she confessed. “It sounded like a good idea, and I’m really glad I did. It helped open me up to being accountable for my own decisions and actions.”

Benny also helped. ANJC Reentry Case Manager Benjamin Briggs not only understood Cora’s knack for avoiding accountability and her “they’re out to get me” attitude — he had been in her shoes.

“I felt like Benny and the other case managers actually understood my situation because they had gone through jail, too,” Cora said. “That was a big inspiration for me to do better.”

“Cora has learned a lot,” Benny said. “When she first joined MRT, she almost got kicked out of the program for not wanting to open up. I look at her today, I see a glow. I see the change. When I first met her, there was no glow — just stress and confusion.”

Ready

Cora credits MRT with setting her up for success once she sought treatment for substance abuse. “It gave me more of a positive attitude. And it brought me out of my shell and made it easier for me to talk to people.”

ANJC’s annual Voices for Justice fundraiser supports ANJC’s programs, including Reentry Services for people returning to society after imprisonment.

At the treatment center, she met her clinician — a man who had previously been in treatment himself and who had worked his way up to a job. “I thought, I want that,” she remembered. “If he can do it, I can do it.”

Today, she has done it: Cora is employed by the same center where she received treatment, working with peer groups. She’s in a healthy relationship with her boyfriend, and now she sees her children on a regular basis.

“My life has changed a lot,” Cora reflected. And she’s ready for more change — ready to spend more time with her kids, ready to move forward in her career helping others who are working through addiction. That’s her advice to people coming to ANJC for the first time: “Be ready for change. It’s work, and it’s hard, but that’s the place to start.”


Strength in Numbers: ANJC’s 2019 Year in Review

October 24, 2019, https://anjc.org/2019/10/strength-in-numbers-anjcs-2019-year-in-review/

ANJC tackles community’s most pressing issues, with the help of partners

When the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) was honored this year by the Foundation for the Improvement of Justice for its role in the movement that got Alaska State House Bill 34 passed into law, the award was a recognition of one of ANJC’s greatest strengths: its ability to bring partners together to affect real change.

Throughout 2019, ANJC has nurtured and grown established partnerships and developed relationships with new partners that will allow the organization to provide more services to more people across the state.

“Seven of the grants we applied for this year required community partners, and when we approached the partners we chose, every one of them was an immediate ‘yes,’” reflected ANJC Director of Operations Tammy Ashley. “That’s entirely due to the work ANJC has done in the community, building our credibility and our reputation.”

Lisa Rieger, Christine Carter and Tammy Ashley attending the 2019 Foundation for Improvement of Justice Award Banquet

New partnerships with Lemon Creek Correctional Center in Juneau and Spring Creek Correctional Center (SPCC) in Seward have allowed ANJC staff to present to inmates throughout the year. In addition, SPCC is working with ANJC to bring reentry classes and support for those leaving the prison system to new locations. Meanwhile, relationships with partner organizations are allowing ANJC case managers to take services off-site to increase access to participants who have trouble traveling to ANJC’s Anchorage office.

“It’s all about meeting our people where they’re at and making sure accessing our services isn’t a burden on them,” Tammy said.

This year, ANJC brought on a team to represent Tribes, at their request, in Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) cases brought in Anchorage courts. Alaska Native and American Indian children represent a disproportionately high percentage of children in out-of-home care in Alaska; in Anchorage, the imbalance is even greater. Meanwhile, ICWA caseworkers speaking on behalf of Tribes are not appointed lawyers, while other parties in ICWA cases are. ANJC’s Tribal ICWA Representation Program seeks to correct this imbalance by providing Tribal representation, as well as legal guidance and consultation.

Since January, the Tribal ICWA Representation Program has assisted seven Tribes with 38 cases — vastly improving the results of ICWA cases for Alaska Native children and families.

ANJC also grew its Family Law program to assist survivors of crimes, with an emphasis on serving Elders and young people who have been victimized. ANJC’s laser focus on representing survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, date rape, and trafficking continues to provide essential services in our community.

ANJC employees do a team-building activity.

Looking toward 2020, ANJC has its eye on increasing services to young people. The organization will be working with the McLaughlin Youth Center (MYC) to provide reentry-type services, providing case managers to work with youth who are coming back into the community after being at MYC. ANJC is also partnering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska, making advocacy services and case management available to Alaska Native “littles” and their families.

ANJC is working on increasing its direct services to those who have been affected by human trafficking. And ANJC will continue to expand its reach, providing more services outside of Anchorage, including in the Mat-Su Valley.

“Access is a huge issue for our participants, or potential participants,” Tammy said. “With the support of our partners, we can continue to do more.”

What’s Next for ANJC?

  • Service expansion: Increased advocacy around sexual assault (SA) awareness resulting in legislative support and changes throughout the state around SA crimes
  • Increased advocacy: Additional partnerships with other advocacy organizations statewide
  • Broadened client base: Services for rehabilitating sex offenders and providing case management
    and support group to inmates currently incarcerated.
  • Youth-focused programs: Youth Development through mentoring and advocacy support for youth with partnerships with Division of Juvenile Justice and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska

Just a Phone Call Away

November 1, 2019, https://anjc.org/2019/11/just-a-phone-call-away/

Alaska Native Justice Center’s (ANJC) Tribal ICWA Representation Program provides representation, and more, for Tribes

Ninilchik Tribe ICWA Specialist Bettyann Steciw

Bettyann Steciw picked up the phone, not expecting much. She’d been through this before:  As the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) specialist for the Ninilchik Tribe, she had called plenty of lawyers, looking for answers to questions about the cases she was involved in.

“When I called attorneys for help in the past, I’d get put on hold, then they’d take my name, they’d think about it, and I’d never hear back,” Bettyann explained. “So when Chad actually called back within a couple days and had read up on the case and said he could help — I was dumbfounded!”

Chad Holt is an attorney with the Alaska Native Justice Center’s (ANJC) newest service: providing representation to Alaska Native Tribes, at their request, in ICWA cases brought in Anchorage courts. ANJC launched the services in February 2019; since then, ANJC’s Tribal ICWA Representation team has assisted six Tribes with a total of 39 cases.

A Significant Imbalance

Statewide, over 50 percent of the children in out-of-home care are Native, even though they are only 19 percent of the state population. The imbalance is even greater in Anchorage, where only nine percent of children are Alaska Native or American Indian, but over 60 percent of children in out-of-home care are Native.

Compounding this imbalance, many Native families live in regions far from Anchorage — which means ICWA caseworkers involved in cases brought in Anchorage courts either face an expensive flight to the city, or must appear in court by phone. Most opt for the phone option.

Making things even more difficult, unlike the other parties involved in ICWA cases, which are appointed an attorney, Tribes are provided with no legal representation.

ANJC’s Tribal ICWA Representation Program is an effort to change this imbalance. The new program also aims to help Tribes to fully comply with ICWA requirements.

“ICWA was passed more than 40 years ago,” pointed out legal and policy director Alex Cleghorn, who served as a Special Assistant to the Attorney General on policies related to Alaska Native legal issues and rural justice before joining ANJC. “Given the severe disproportionality and challenges with ICWA compliance, ANJC’s efforts are necessary to achieve better outcomes for Native children and their families.”

Someone on Your Team

Like many case workers and ICWA specialists who work for a Tribe, Bettyann has ICWA training, but she’s not a lawyer. And because there aren’t many lawyers who specialize in ICWA cases, she often finds herself scouring the internet for answers to her legal questions.

“But am I going to stand up in court and say, ‘Well, I found this on the internet’? You never know if what you found is a definitive answer,” Bettyann lamented.

When she connected with Chad at ANJC, she discovered a go-to source for all her questions.

“It’s those five-minute educational calls that really make ANJC’s ICWA team a super resource,” she said.

In addition to providing over-the-phone consultation and guidance, the Tribal ICWA Representation Program can represent Tribes in Anchorage courts. In Bettyann’s case, Chad and his team quickly read through the case discovery and talked to both parties involved; they accompanied Bettyann to court and provided representation for the Ninilchik Tribe.

“When you’re on the stand, your heart is pounding,” described Bettyann, who testified in her role as the Tribe’s spokeswoman. “Just having someone there in the courtroom, on your team, with you is a tremendous amount of relief.”

A Resource with Expertise

With the help of the Tribal ICWA Representation Program, the parties in Bettyann’s case reached an agreement and ended with the reunification of a family. Even after the conclusion of the case, ANJC equipped Bettyann with the knowledge she could bring back to the Tribe.

“They had prepared me and explained to me enough about what had happened with the case that I could come back here and explain it to all the players,” she said.

“ICWA cases are very unique,” Chad added. “They’re not your typical civil case — they have an entirely different set of rules, language used, goals. That’s why it’s really helpful to have a resource that can provide expertise and representation for Tribes involved in ICWA cases.”


ANJC Honored for Anti-Trafficking Work

November 4, 2019, https://anjc.org/2019/11/anjc-honored-for-anti-trafficking-work/

Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) Advocate Project Coordinator Heather Hagelberger received a Priceless Alaska award for anti-trafficking work at the Priceless “Redefine Worth” event this September.

Heather was one of five individuals honored with the Community Ambassador Award for the work she does at ANJC under the Domestic Victims of Human Trafficking (DVHT) grant. The grant is a group effort, under which ANJC partners with Covenant House Alaska, Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis (AWAIC), Standing Together Against Rape (STAR), Priceless, and CITC’s Recovery Services Department to provide coordinated, wraparound services to victims of human trafficking.

“We realize we can’t do it alone,” said Heather. “No one organization can combat something this complex.”

In 2017, Covenant House released the largest study of human trafficking ever undertaken, covering ten U.S. cities, including Anchorage. According to Covenant House, Anchorage had the second highest prevalence of trafficking of the cities studied. Of the youth surveyed for the study, 28 percent reported being survivors of human trafficking, including sex trafficking and labor trafficking.

Of the youth who identified as having experienced trafficking, 42 percent were Alaska Native.

“Especially if you’re from a rural community where you know everybody, there’s a little more trust,” Heather explained. “So when people from rural Alaska find themselves in Anchorage, they can find themselves more vulnerable to all kinds of victimization, including trafficking.”

Studies have also shown that individuals who have experienced ten or more adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, are more likely to be victims of trafficking.

While stories like the one that appeared in the Anchorage Daily News in 2016, about two women from rural Alaska who had been trafficked for sex work, might be familiar to people, Heather pointed out that, often, human trafficking looks very different than people expect.

“People are familiar with the idea of sex trafficking, but it can take on very different forms than what’s talked about in the news,” Heather clarified. “Labor trafficking is also a problem and can be more difficult to see.”

Labor traffickers often use fraudulent ‘jobs’ in industries like domestic services, fishing, massage/nail salons, assisted living, or restaurants to gain control over a victim.

The hope, said Heather, is to “raise awareness and help people realize that some of what they are seeing is actually trafficking. We hope to show where and how change can be made.”

ANJC provides resources and services to all victims of human trafficking, ages 13 and older. Thanks to the partners working with them through the DVHT grant, Heather said, “We’re able to provide a ‘no wrong door’ approach, meaning that regardless of what organization a victim comes to, they can find help.”


High Rates of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Alaska

January 22, 2020, https://anjc.org/2020/01/high-rates-mmiw/

In a recent study by the Urban Indian Health Institute, Anchorage was listed as having the third highest number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIW), and Alaska ranks fourth in the nation for the highest number of MMIW cases.

As a direct service provider offering victim and legal services statewide, ANJC partners with local and statewide organizations and working groups who are working at the forefront of the crisis. In addition to providing an on the ground perspective, our team has developed a white paper on this issue, which is used to help educate and coordinate the many efforts around the state.


Prepared for the Next Challenge

April 27, 2020, https://anjc.org/2020/04/prepared-for-the-next-challenge/

Thanks to their emergency planning in the wake of an earthquake, ANJC hit the ground running in response to COVID-19

In the wake of the November 2018 earthquake, staff at the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) put together an emergency response plan. The plan, based on their response to the earthquake and discussions around what worked and what didn’t, was meant to be a precaution — something to rely on in the unlikely event that the organization might face another major disaster.

Enter the novel coronavirus.

Thinking Ahead

ANJC Re-entry Case Manager Kayla Cox works on a tablet provided by a Rasmuson Foundation grant for Laptops for Justice.

Within days of CITC’s leadership announcing that all non-essential staff from both CITC and ANJC should work remotely to protect themselves and program participants from the spread of COVID-19, 100 percent of ANJC’s employees were up and running their programs from home. Thanks to their experience bouncing back from the earthquake, ANJC staff knew exactly how to transition to a new work environment in the midst of an emergency.

“We were fortunate to be thinking ahead as a group,” said Tammy Ashley, ANJC Director of Operations. “Because we had talked so openly about our emergency plan, everyone knew exactly what to do. They got right to work. Our priority was to keep our staff working, and to keep our participants connected.”

One key part of the transition to remote work was laptops: All ANJC employees use laptops for their day-to-day work, a trend that was started with a donation of twelve laptops from the Rasmuson Foundation. As soon as the hunker-down order was issued, said Tammy, “I told everyone to grab their laptops and power cords, everything they needed, and start working from home.”

Staying in Touch

It’s one thing to attend Zoom meetings with your colleagues from home, though. It’s another to serve the people who rely on your programs to meet their needs.

Senior Program Manager Marlene Mack knew that the individuals she serves — victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking — would need ANJC now more than ever. “Our first concern was safety, and that victims could report abuse appropriately,” Marlene explained. “In addition, some of our participants work in the beauty industry and lost jobs when businesses shut down.”

ANJC Senior Program Manager Marlene Mack (r) attends a reentry simulation in 2019.

ANJC’s Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, & Human Trafficking Advocacy team not only immediately began checking in with participants over the phone, but set up a system through which participants could request groceries and other items. After assessing each family’s needs, ANJC advocates place orders online, then organize safe, contact-free delivery to participants. Advocates also distributed gift cards to help with transportation needs.

“I’m proud and humbled by my staff and their dedication to assisting our participants remotely,” Marlene said.

Under normal circumstances, ANJC offers civil legal attorney representation or pro se advocacy assistance for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and stalking — which they are continuing to do, though not without challenges.

“A lot of court hearings have been suspended, so we’re helping participants with the rescheduling process,” Marlene explained. “For some hearings, like those that are emergencies or involve children, ANJC advocacy staff is able to attend and support participants telephonically. My heart just goes out to our participants. It’s a stressful situation, and they don’t have that human connection we’d usually be able to provide in person during that process.”

Thanks to a donation from GCI, however, advocates and other staff are able to keep in touch with their participants using a number of “burner” phones, which were first used by ANJC case managers; once ANJC moved to using Zoom for meetings and appointments, the phones were distributed to participants.

Remote Representation

ANJC’s legal team continues to offer assistance to Tribes via phone and video conference.

Delivering services by phone is status quo for ANJC’s legal team, which offers technical assistance, training, and consultation on Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) cases to Tribes across the state. But ANJC’s lawyers have also had to adjust to the new normal.

“While many court hearings were suspended, domestic violence protective orders and many ICWA child-in-need of aid hearings have not,” said ANJC’s Legal and Policy Director Alex Cleghorn. “So our team is now filing court documents by email and fax and appearing in court over the phone and by video conference.”

The legal team also hosted a roundtable for tribal partners using the online meeting platform Go To Meeting, answering questions about new court rules and offering guidance. The team is also strategizing ways to hold conferences and trainings that have now been canceled but could potentially happen via webinar or other methods.

“Our team has displayed incredible flexibility,” Alex shared. “Their commitment to provide the best service possible continues to shine through. When the shelter-in-place order was given, there was no question from them over whether we would continue to appear in cases; they immediately started figuring out how they would continue to support our participants and serve our clients.”

Getting Creative

ANJC staff stay connected with each other and participants via Zoom.

Program Manager Justin Hatton faced a quandary: How to keep two grant-funded youth programs alive without actually meeting with young people?

Technology Zoomed to the rescue again. Youth advocates partnering with Big Brothers, Big Sisters Alaska began meeting with “littles” and their families using the online video conferencing tool. Meanwhile, Justin’s team is creating and delivering activity kits to McLaughlin Youth Center (MYC). MYC participants will meet with ANJC advocates on Zoom to do cultural activities, like beading and drum building, and receive education on topics like healthy relationships.

“It’s great to connect with them virtually, plus it’s showing us other opportunities we might have,” Justin revealed. “For instance, going forward, we could use a platform like Zoom to connect with rural areas and bring village youth the same instruction and activities we provide locally. It could allow us to reach even more participants across the state.”

Zoom has also enabled ANJC’s Recovery and Reentry team to maintain contact with their participants. Reentry Case Manager Benjamin Briggs held crash courses on how to use Zoom use with the folks in his support groups, then continued to hold meetings every Monday and Wednesday, along with one-on-one meetings to continue case management.

Like the Advocacy team, Reentry staff is also providing food and other assistance to those who have lost jobs or need support.

“We had a passion to get our participants the services they need, and we got creative,” Justin summed up.

A Plan for Staying Strong

“We learned a lot from the earthquake. We bounced back quickly then, but it was chaotic,” Tammy recalled.

ANJC employees do a team-building activity.

To prevent that same chaos in the coronavirus response, ANJC managers created task lists to ensure that workloads were evenly distributed. They also created opportunities for professional growth, allowing staff to set aside one hour each workday to take a class or develop new office skills.

ANJC also launched a “Get Up, Get Out, Get Active” program that grants each employee 30 minutes a day to get away from the computer and go for a run, walk the dog, play in their yard with their kids, or do another activity. Employees use the ANJC private Facebook group to log their activities and share photos.

“In this time of economic uncertainty, we’re all lucky to be able to keep working,” Tammy reflected. “That’s the bottom line: keeping our employees paid, busy, and valued, and staying connected with our participants. We worked really hard to get the ANJC team to where it is now. The best thing we’ve done as a team is create a plan for staying strong through anything that gets thrown our way.”

ANJC’s offices are closed, but staff continues to provide remote services for participants and others. Connect with ANJC on Facebook, or learn more about ANJC services at anjc.org.


Mentors Make the Difference

July 24, 2020, https://anjc.org/2020/07/mentors-make-the-difference-2/

ANJC launches a new mentoring program for Alaska Native youth, in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters Alaska

A nationwide study of Big Brothers Big Sisters programs showed that students who have a mentor experience better academic performance, attitudes, and behaviors throughout the school year than those who don’t.

Justin Hatton still remembers the former youth program manager who helped him get his high school diploma. In fact, he still talks to her to this day. “Shirley Tuzroyluke is like a surrogate mother to me,” said Justin, who is now the Youth Program Manager at the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC). “I had a troubled past when I was teenager. But having an Alaska Native mentor like her certainly impacted my life as an Alaska Native adolescent youth. A good mentor can make all the difference.”

ANJC is helping ensure that more young Native kids can find strong Alaska Native mentors through a new partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters Alaska (BBBS). Anikatiga (Iñupiaq for “my brother or sister”) is a new ANJC youth development program that aims to improve academic outcomes and increase resiliency among Alaska Native students by connecting BBBS “littles” and their families to case management, social service referrals, cultural connection, mentoring, and more.

Doing What We Do Best

By partnering together, both ANJC and BBBS can do what they each do best. BBBS creates one-to-one mentoring relationships that empower young people to achieve their full potential. Meanwhile, ANJC leverages its partnerships with CITC’s Youth and Employment departments and other organizations to help families meet household needs, access recovery services, support education goals, and more.

A major goal of Anikatiga is to decrease risk factors that contribute to the disproportionately high numbers of Alaska Native youth represented in Alaska’s juvenile justice system. Creating a strong network of family and mentors surrounding a young person is a good start, said Jordie.

“Part of ANJC’s focus is creating plans and referrals that help families become healthier, too,” explained Justin. “If the household is able to meet its needs, a family gains a healthier outlook, and the youth, in turn, will gain resiliency.”

Success at School

“We’re optimistic we can make a change for our littles, especially in the school setting,” added Justin.

Alaska Native students persistently graduate high school at a lower rate than students of other ethnicities, a statistic that is influenced early on by academic underperformance and poor school engagement. Research has shown that barriers to educational attainment influence the likelihood that a student may be involved in the juvenile justice system.

“If we can get to them now, when they’re still students, we can help prevent a lot of hardships,” said Justin.

Through Anikatiga, ANJC will provide academic tutoring and support to teachers to ensure Alaska Native students get the education they deserve and help them stay connected to school, said Justin. The program hopes to improve academic outcomes among Alaska Native students in Alaska’s four largest school districts, with an emphasis on increasing a feeling of connectedness to school and decreasing absences.

Culturally Connected

A connection to culture is one of the top three protective factors for Alaska Native teens. Through Anikatiga, ANJC provides cultural resources for bigs to engage littles.

In addition to supporting success in school, Anikatiga emphasizes connection to Alaska Native culture. ANJC staff are planning the program’s first annual event, a camp or retreat that will take place this fall and will incorporate Alaska Native cultural activities.

More important that gatherings, workshops, and organized meet-ups, though, is the presence of an Alaska Native mentor in the life of a little.

Anikatiga serves Alaska Native youth ages 6 – 19 in Anchorage, the Mat-Su Valley, Juneau, and Fairbanks. Currently, the program is working with six youth. But with plans to pair 113 Alaska Native youth with mentoring and a goal to offer at least 30 opportunities for cultural connection, ANJC sees an urgent need for more Alaska Native adults willing to become “bigs.”

“Right now, there just aren’t that many Alaska Native ‘bigs,’ so that’s where we step in as case managers, providing another mentor role and helping young people feel connected to their culture,” Justin said. “From my own experience, having an Alaska Native mentor made all the difference. We face so many challenges as young Native people, that support from someone who believes in you and understands you can be really powerful.”

ANJC is helping to streamline training for Alaska Native people who wish to become mentors through BBBS. The organization will also provide cultural resources for all bigs and has plans to host three or four youth at a time for in-person, “socially distanced” cultural workshops, which are currently being held virtually.

To find out more about becoming a big and mentoring a young person, you can start by filling out an online enrollment form at Big Brothers Big Sisters Alaska. Learn more about ANJC by following the organization on Facebook.


Voices for Justice: ANJC’s 2020 Year in Review

November 2, 2020, https://anjc.org/2020/11/voices-for-justice-anjcs-2020-year-in-review/

2020: Growing. Stronger.

Four years after becoming a subsidiary of CITC, the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) has never been stronger, thanks to expanded services, new statewide collaborations, increased staff — and the lessons learned from not one but two major challenges over the last two years.

“The earthquake taught us a lot about delivering services in less than ideal circumstances,” said Tammy Ashley, ANJC Director of Operations. “When COVID-19 hit, we knew what it would take to continue serving our people, and within 48 hours of switching to remote work, we were up and running at 100 percent.”

Make that 110 percent: ANJC staff not only kept programs up and running over the past, tumultuous year, but expanded existing programs and started new ones.

Legal Support

“When I first started talking about this job, it was a narrow scope of work,” commented Alex Cleghorn, ANJC Legal and Policy Director. “We were just launching the Tribal ICWA Representation Program. Today, ANJC legal services have grown into much, much more.”

In 2018, ANJC had one attorney on staff; the following year, the organization started offering Alaska Tribes guidance and legal representation for ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act) cases. Two years later, the legal team now numbers nine, and ICWA representation is just one of the services they offer.

This year, ANJC brought on a tribal court facilitator who can provide training and technical assistance to Alaska Tribes. The organization is now equipped to provide training, technical assistance, and best practices to the Tribal court system, statewide.

As the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated remote service delivery, the ANJC legal team’s experience offering virtual support, pre-pandemic, paid off. Prior to COVID, ANJC had already been providing over-the-phone representation for Tribes in Anchorage courts.

“We’ve continued to have lawyers appearing in court and for trial remotely,” said Alex. “COVID has also driven the court system to allow people to file remotely, and we’ve been able to assist our clients with that, as well.”

Mentoring Youth

Even as ANJC staff transitioned to working from home and collaborating virtually, staff managed to establish a new partnership with the Department of Juvenile Justice and McLaughlin Youth Center (MYC), fulfilling a goal Tammy had set for the organization years before. ANJC youth advocates and case managers hold monthly virtual groups and offer case management at MYC, connecting virtually during the pandemic, though staff will be on-site once social distancing protocols are lifted.

“The MYC program is all about prevention,” Tammy said. “If we can help these youth make positive choices when they’re coming out of MYC, hopefully we won’t see them down the road as adults coming out of the prison system.”

ANJC also rolled out a new youth partnership with Big Brothers, Big Sisters Alaska (BBBS). Through the Anikatiga program, ANJC hopes to improve academic outcomes and increase resiliency among Alaska Native students by connecting BBBS “littles” and their families to case management, social service referrals, cultural connection, mentoring, and more.

Meanwhile, the annual Color of Justice program, which engages youth interested in legal and judicial careers, was slated for late this summer. ANJC, this year’s host, had roughly two weeks to come up with and execute a plan to hold Color of Justice virtually — which they did, with 17 youth participating and more than a dozen adult volunteers.

Strong Partners

From youth services to adult reentry support to advocacy on behalf of victims of domestic and other violence, ANJC’s programs all saw an increase in supportive services — that is, additional support provided by ANJC that allows individuals to focus on their recovery or reentry.

“None of this was easy,” said Tammy of ensuring that ANJC not only survived the onset of COVID-19, but thrived throughout the pandemic. “None of it was totally efficient. But our participants were never without services.”

This is due in great part to a dedicated staff. ANJC set goals this year to retain staff and to increase Native hire, both of which it did, with a 92 percent retention rate and a 77 percent Native hire rate.

As ANJC grows its staff and its participant base, the organization is also focused on growing statewide partnerships, said Tammy.

“We are going into the community and building our credibility as an organization,” she said. ANJC has partnered with 18 other organizations on statewide grants; the organization has joined forces with a total of 70 community and state partners to bring justice, advocacy, and services to communities across Alaska.

“As an organization, we’re being recognized in ways we haven’t before,” Tammy elaborated. “We’re being asked to present, to come to meetings, to have a seat at the table. We’re growing with all the work we’ve done, and that really comes down to our employees. We’re only as strong as our staff, and we put in a lot of work to make sure we’re doing the things we say we’ll do.”

Looking Ahead to 2021

As ANJC closes out 2020, the organization has set new goals for the coming year:

  • After building a plan and holding a strategic session for rolling out a new program for Elders who are victims of violent crime, ANJC is poised to work with partners to launch this service in 2021.
  • Two grants involving five new partners are allowing ANJC to expand human trafficking prevention efforts statewide.
  • The legal team will continue to expand training for Alaska Tribes’ ICWA workers and is drafting an ICWA worker’s handbook.
  • Legal will also begin providing support with the variance process for people with certain kinds of criminal convictions.

 


A Strategy for Success

November 6, 2020, https://anjc.org/2020/11/strategy-for-success/
Antonio Arroyo (Photo by Chadwick Fowler)

Losing Angel was the final blow.

“That was the worst,” Antonio Arroyo described. “I had five people close to me die in six months, and Angel was the last. She was my best friend. Only 26 years old. Cancer. That one hit me the hardest.”

Reeling from loss, Antonio turned to drugs.

This wasn’t the path his life was supposed to take. Antonio had a strong family. His parents had always emphasized focus on school, respecting his Elders, and honoring his Alaska Native and Puerto Rican cultures. Summers, his family would visit his mother’s home village of Tyonek for berry picking and fishing, drumming and dancing. He graduated Bartlett High, then immediately enrolled at UAA to earn a degree in automotive technology.

But Angel’s death sent him down a dark path. Jail. Drugs. Addiction. A clear message from his father: As long as Antonio continued to use drugs, he wasn’t welcome to live at home.

So Antonio did the only thing he hadn’t tried yet. He got help.

Heading Down a New Path

Jail was rock bottom. Antonio saw where his life was headed.

“I told myself, I’m going to help myself,” he said.

He started attending AA meetings while still incarcerated. He applied for food stamps and housing. He requested a transfer to the Cordova House on furlough so he could start working before his release and put away some money to support himself once his sentence had been served.

“Something in me was working, and that gave me the strength to move forward,” Antonio shared. “When the people around me saw I was putting in the work, they were there for me.”

A Helping Hand

Benny Briggs is a reentry case manager at ANJC who worked closely with Antonio in the Moral Reconation Therapy program.

But there were bumps in the road. At one point, Antonio stopped attending AA and NA for a few weeks. Then he bumped into Benny Briggs, Reentry Case Manager for ANJC with the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) who had been working with Antonio through the Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) program at Cordova House.

“I saw him one day at New Life [Development],” Antonio recalled. “I felt bad because he had been helping me, and I had blown him off a little. That day, he told me to stick with it.”

“Once a participant realizes that he or she is one hundred percent responsible and accountable for their situation, MRT empowers them to create the circumstances they desire,” said Benny. “They will no longer be a victim of circumstance.”

In 2020, ANJC assisted 92 people as they completed MRT, which supports individuals who are seeking sobriety or rejoining society after incarceration. The program emphasizes conscious decision-making as a tool that leads to enhanced moral reasoning. MRT has demonstrated significant success in preventing recidivism; at ANJC, 65 percent of individuals who complete MRT stay out of prison for good — an impressive improvement over the statewide recidivism rate, which sees only 37 percent of previously incarcerated men and women staying out of prison.

Antonio had been relying on himself for a long time. But Benny and MRT showed him that sometimes, you need to let others help you, too. When he transitioned out of Cordova House, he stuck with MRT, coming to ANJC to continue his work with Benny.

“Benny had told me, he’s been to jail, too. He knows what it’s like. He’s not someone who doesn’t understand my struggle,” Antonio said. “One thing that struck out to me, working with Benny, is — why would I want to go back to jail to live with some other in a toilet room? I’d rather have my freedom.”

A Change for the Better

In the meantime, Antonio was determined to get back on the right path. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, he landed a job at Burger King.

“Staying busy was part of my success plan to stay out of trouble and stay off drugs,” he said.

MRT gave Antonio a sense of direction and a strategy for success.

“You write down all your goals and what you’re going to do to get there,” he elaborated. “Those little things, those daily objects throughout the process, those helped me achieve so much more.”

MRT also taught Antonio to pay attention to how he spends his time. This conscientiousness showed in his work ethic, and soon his superiors at Burger King offered him a raise. Not long after, Antonio was promoted to shift manager.

“Life today is great for me,” he said. Now almost one year sober, Antonio is back in school, working toward his degree in automotive mechanics. He owns his own vehicle, and he’s living in transitional housing while looking for his own place.

Maybe the biggest change, though, shows through how Antonio dealt with the news that both his aunt and grandfather died this year.

“Being sober, I was able to handle that a lot better,” he said. “I knew there was nothing I could do but honor their memory. And the best way to do that was to stay out of trouble. They would have wanted me to succeed.”


ANJC to Tackle Human Trafficking and Elder Abuse in 2021

November 13, 2020, https://anjc.org/2020/11/anjc-to-tackle-human-trafficking-and-elder-abuse-in-2021/

ANJC turns its focus to Alaska’s most vulnerable populations as it expands new services beyond Anchorage in 2021

Starting in 2016, the Alaska Native Justice Center’s Domestic Victims of Human Trafficking project has brought service providers together to respond to the needs of victims of human trafficking in the Anchorage community. Working with local and government agencies, ANJC helped identify the challenges and opportunities for creating systems to provide assistance to the growing number of trafficked individuals in Alaska.

Meanwhile, in 2019 ANJC expanded their services for victims of crime to address issues faced by Alaska Native Elders. In its early stages, this effort provided a case manager to individuals through Southcentral Foundation’s Elders Program; through this partnership, ANJC is able to advocate for Elders who find themselves the victim of fraud, guardianship issues, abuse, and more.

In 2021, ANJC will expand both of these programs statewide.

Collaborating in the Fight Against Trafficking

“This is a prime time to address human trafficking in Alaska because people in communities through the state are sharing more openly about sexual assault,” said Marlene Mack.

According to a Covenant House study done in 2017, Anchorage has the second highest prevalence of trafficking among the ten cities studied. Social media has made it easier for traffickers to lure young people from rural areas to the city.

New funding opportunities will enable ANJC to extend anti-trafficking support into rural communities across the state in 2021. With the support of partners like the Alaska Federation of Natives, Bristol Bay Native Corporation, Bering Sea Women’s Group, and Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, ANJC will work closely with Alaskan villages to create a community-led response to trafficking that addresses specific local needs. Through this effort, ANJC will provide training, education, and anti-trafficking tools to anyone seeking assistance.

“Our Anchorage-based anti-trafficking model has been very successful, but as we go into rural communities, it’s more about following their lead and providing support,” said Marlene. “We started working with Knik Tribe on this model in 2020 and in 2021 we will branch out to more rural areas and provide  the resources and help them build their own anti-trafficking model, with their guidance, to address their specific needs. Collaborative partnerships like these are vital to the effort of fighting trafficking in Alaska.”

Taking Care of Our Elders

“It took a little time for them to warm up, but once they did, they were swarming me,” described Colleen Ouzts, a paralegal with ANJC who is working closely with the Elders Program at Southcentral Foundation to assist older Alaska Native people with advocacy and legal services.

Locally, ANJC has helped Elders who have been the victims of fraud or violence or who have needed assistance getting out of state-assigned guardianships.

The most common issue Elders bring to Colleen is guardianship, whether they find themselves responsible for another family member or have been assigned a guardian themselves. Colleen also sees a great deal of legal paperwork that Elders need help interpreting.

“So often, they’re working on their phones, and the screen is so small — it can just be overwhelming,” said Colleen, who also appears in court to advocate for Elders involved in hearings. “I think my being there empowers them to be present and speak on their own behalf.

A new grant, under which ANJC will partner with Alaska Legal Services, will support enhanced Elder services, including case management, paralegal services, and supportive services.

“Our people don’t come to us with a single need or issue,” commented ANJC Director Tammy Ashley. “As a team, with our partners like Alaska Legal Services, we’re able to respond to a variety of needs and fill in those gaps where our Elders are not getting the support they need.”

Under the grant, ANJC will also provide outreach, training, and advocacy for rural and tribal communities in other regions of the state.

 


Creating Connections to Reduce Recidivism

November 23, 2020, https://anjc.org/2020/11/creating-connections-to-reduce-recidivism/

ANJC’s newest program aims to keep Alaska Native youth out of the juvenile justice system

McLaughlin Youth Center

Four years ago, when she became the Director of Operations at the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC), Tammy Ashley had a dream. She wanted to rebuild ANJC’s youth programs — starting with forging a relationship with McLaughlin Youth Center (MYC).

“Alaska Native teens are disproportionately taken into the custody of the juvenile justice system,” Tammy said. “They’re cut off from their cultural, community, and family connections, which leads to a cycle of recidivism and institutionalization. Our goal is to reach young people involved with the juvenile justice system and help them develop the networks of support that will prevent them from needing our services down the road.”

Thanks to funding from the Administration of Native Americans, ANJC has partnered with the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) to create ANJC’s Duhdeldih Youth Transition Support program. Through Duhdeldih (“we are learning”), ANJC staff have begun providing culturally-informed programs for young offenders at MYC.

Learning Together

Dreamcatcher made by an MYC youth. ANJC staff lead activities to connect youth to their Alaska Native culture.

Located in Anchorage, MYC is only one of four DJJ facilities that provide long-term secure treatment services; it is the only facility that provides long-term treatment for female teens. This means that many of the youth living in at MYC were removed from communities elsewhere in Alaska.

Duhdeldih staff are focused on building up the protective factors among both rural and urban Alaska Native youth whose adolescence has been disrupted by removal from family, by institutionalization, and by juvenile justice system involvement.

“Working with youth reentering society after institutionalization, it’s different than working with adults,” pointed out ANJC Youth Program Manager Justin Hatton. “They’re still seeking guidance, they’re still learning. What we do is to help them better understand themselves and connect them with their community and culture.”

ANJC Youth Advocated Michael Farahjood leads MYC youth through activities and discussions centered around topics like culture, coping skills, mental health, building relationships, and other concepts that help young people build the networks of support necessary to keep them out of the system once they’re released.

“So many of these kids don’t have that role model who can act as a guide and a resource,” said Michael. He uses the story of his own difficult adolescence to connect with MYC youth. “I can give them all the tools I think will help them, but without that connection, it’s not going to do anything. It’s really all about building those relationships.”

Setting the Stage for Success

MYC youth displays a dreamcatcher made from an activity kit.

ANJC’s relationship with youth doesn’t stop within the walls of MYC, though. Part of Duhdeldih’s mission is to provide supportive services to young people, especially as they get ready to leave any youth detention or inpatient behavioral facility. Michael and other youth advocates tap into ANJC’s array of services, as well as CITC’s youth, recovery, and family support programs, to ensure that teens exiting MYC and other youth facilities find the assistance they need to avoid recidivism.

“Our job is to set the stage for Alaska Native youth to be successful, stay out of the justice system, and do anything they want in life,” Justin said.

Supportive services may include anything from access to educational opportunities and internships, to support for recovery from addiction, to rental or other assistance for teens and their families. For instance, one young man Michael worked with landed an interview for CITC’s Youth Employment Program Internship, so ANJC helped him get a cell phone to take calls from potential employers and supplied him with a bus pass to get to his interview.

“It’s really about developing a relationship and understanding where they’re at, seeing what their needs are,” Michael said.

“What we do is walk alongside them, give them options, write down goals,” Justin added. “Then we work on how do we get to those goals? We give them the voice to drive process. But we’ll be their co-pilot. If they’re about to crash, we’re there to pick them back up and redirect.”

Coping with COVID

When the COVID pandemic prevented ANJC staff from working onsite at MYC, they pivoted to working virtually with youth.

Almost as soon as ANJC staff launched the program, though, COVID-19 cut off their on-site access to MYC. ANJC quickly pivoted to virtual delivery of programs and services that engage MYC youth with cultural activities.

Youth advocates communicate with interested MYC residents through Zoom to inform them about program eligibility and resources ANJC can offer. Meanwhile, staff have designed presentations and interactive games to help young people talk about ideas like connectedness, having a healthy adult in their lives, and decision-making.

This fall, Duhdeldih staff created culture kits with all the materials and tools youth needed to create items like dreamcatchers. They Zoomed into MYC and instructed participating youth over video, while onsite staff from MYC assisted the teens in person.

“It’s been a wonderful relationship with MYC staff,” said Justin. “Despite the obstacles we’ve gone through with COVID, there was a real attitude of ‘we can do this!’ And now we are.”

Whether it’s delivered virtually or in person, Duhdeldih is addressing the unmet needs of Alaska Native youth and working to create an Alaska where Native teens are no longer taken into the juvenile justice system in disproportionate numbers.


Alaska Criminal Justice Commission Report Shows Low Prosecution Rate for Sex Offenses

December 1, 2020, https://anjc.org/2020/12/alaska-criminal-justice-commission-2020-annual-report/

In October 2020, the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission released its 2020 Annual Report. Among the findings, in 2018-2019 Alaska law enforcement referred 621 sex offense cases for prosecution to the Department of Law. However, only 322 referrals were accepted for prosecution as a sex offense. This means that barely 50% of reported sex offenses were accepted for prosecution.


2020 in Review: Increased Capacity, Expanded Services

December 31, 2020, https://anjc.org/2020/12/2020-review-increased-capacity-services/
Alex Cleghorn, Senior Policy and Legal Director; Tammy Ashley, Senior Director of Operations.

We hope this message finds you happy and healthy as we come to the end of 2020, a year that was truly challenging for everyone.

Despite our challenges, ANJC continued to grow and increase our capacity to help more people. With our growing staff, our new and expanded services include:

  • Tribal justice support, Tribal court training and technical assistance
  • Legal advice, representation, and intensive advocacy case management for victims of crime
  • Mentoring youth in partnership with Big Brothers, Big Sisters
  • Supporting incarcerated youth in partnership with McLaughlin Youth Center
  • Hybrid service delivery available in-person, telephonic and virtually
  • A private access point and technology for participants to be able to make court appearances remotely

As we move into 2021, we are focusing on service expansion, increased advocacy services, a broadened client base and increasing youth services.  These focus areas, in collaboration with some of our partners, include:

  • Statewide efforts in combating Human Trafficking in partnership with Alaska Federation of Natives, Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, Bering Sea Women’s Group and Bristol Bay Native Association
  • Elder Services to those who are victims of violent crime in partnership with Alaska Legal Services Corporation
  • The Legal and Restorative Justice Programs will begin providing support with the variance process for people with certain kinds of criminal convictions
  • Increased youth and adult reentry services with expanded services with Partners Reentry Center and Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and Bean’s Cafe

In short, 2020 was a busy year for ANJC. We partnered with the Alaska Court System and Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) to install a remote Court Kiosk to provide participants secure, private access to the court system and to lessen barriers of access to justice.

In November, our annual Voices for Justice fundraising campaign was an innovative, all-virtual effort that resulted in more than $108,000 in donations. We’re profoundly grateful for this generosity of our donors and partners, and excited to put these funds to use in support of ANJC’s work in the justice system.

We want to thank you for being a respected partner; our success is due to our partnership and we look forward to another successful year.


ANJC Provided Testimony to Four Efforts in Late 2020

January 5, 2021, https://anjc.org/2021/01/anjc-provided-testimony-to-four-efforts-in-late-2020/

Our team regularly provides feedback to federal partners regarding justice funding for restorative justice and victim services, and education regarding solutions for addressing the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People. During the height of the pandemic ANJC submitted written testimony for the following consultations:

  • The Administration for Children and Families’ “Missing and Murdered Native Americans (MMNA) – A Public Health Framework for Action” in October 2020
  • The Presidential Task Force on Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives, also known as Operation Lady Justice’s Tribal consultation in October 2020
  • Provided feedback for the 15th Annual Government-to-Government Violence Against Women Tribal Consultation
  • Offered consultation testimony related to the Tribal set-aside for the Crime Victims Fund administered by the Office of Victims of Crime in December 2020

ANJC Court Kiosk Provides Virtual Access to Justice System

January 8, 2021, https://anjc.org/2021/01/anjc-court-kiosk-provides-virtual-access-to-justice-system/

A new private space at CITC facilitates virtual court appearances, electronic filing, and more

The CITC Court Kiosk — a private room equipped with technology that allows individuals to connect remotely with the Alaska Court System — is available for any participant or employee to use.

This year, the COVID-19 pandemic forced most Alaskans to rethink how they work, go to school, and access services. While many Alaskans have long struggled to overcome barriers to accessing the justice system, the COVID pandemic threw this issue into stark relief.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has required the court system to expand the availability of remote access through electronic filing, teleconference appearances, and videoconference proceedings,” wrote Alaska Supreme Court Justice Joel Bolger in an email to CITC President and CEO Gloria O’Neill earlier this year.

Justice Bolger wasn’t just highlighting technological strides the court system had made, though; he was reaching out to see if CITC and its subsidiary, the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) could partner on an innovative new resources for Alaskans.

Instructions for using the new Court Kiosk, located in the Nat’uh Service Center.

Located inside the Nat’uh Service Center, the CITC Court Kiosk is unique resource for anyone who needs to appear in court virtually, work on legal documents, or electronically file documents with the State of Alaska Court System. The Kiosk is also available for CITC and ANJC staff who must testify in court.

This private space is located on Nat’uh’s third floor and is outfitted with a telephone, Bluetooth technology, a printer/scanner, and a Mondo pad with camera, keyboard, and mouse. Third-floor staff will be available for some technological assistance, while CITC/ANJC staff working with specific participants will be responsible for helping those individuals with questions about their case or court needs.

“Throughout COVID, it’s been clear that many people are not able to go to the courthouse to file documents or access resources,” said Alex Cleghorn, ANJC Policy and Legal Director. “Many more pleadings are filed electronically now, and people are appearing in court by phone or virtually more often.”

“When Justice Bolger shared this idea as a way of breaking down significant barriers to access to the court, we quickly saw this as something ANJC and CITC could step forward and provide,” added ANJC Director Tammy Ashley.

While COVID has brought about many disruptive changes to how people operate in the world, changes in the court system have been one of the bright sides to an unfortunate situation. The Court Kiosk is part of a greater effort, overall, to make it easier for everyone to interact with the courts.

“The court system has strived for many years to decrease the barriers,” said Alex. “In conjunction with efforts like the self-help center and the pro-se resources that are available, the Court Kiosk is another way to meet people where they are and give them access to what they need.”

The Court Kiosk is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., by appointment and first-come, first-served. To schedule time in the room, individuals can contact Alaska’s People at (907) 793-3467 or by working with a case manager or other CITC/ANJC staff.


New Baseline Report on Alaska’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Womxn and Girls

February 26, 2021, https://anjc.org/2021/02/new-baseline-report-on-alaskas-missing-and-murdered-indigenous-womxn-and-girls/

Data for Indigenous Justice recently released a new baseline report on Alaska’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Womxn and Girls. Available here:

We Are Calling To You


H.R. 1620 Violence Against Women Act

March 22, 2021, https://anjc.org/2021/03/h-r-1620-violence-against-women-act/

The U.S. House of Representatives voted and passed H.R. 1620 Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization on March 17, 2021. The bill has been sent to the U.S. Senate for consideration. The reauthorization features expanded provisions that will improve protections for Alaska Native and Native American women.


Secretary Haaland launches new Missing & Murdered Unit

April 22, 2021, https://anjc.org/2021/04/secretary-haaland-launches-new-missing-murdered-unit/

A few weeks into her new role as Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland has prioritized the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) crisis. Last week, Secretary Haaland announced a new Missing & Murdered Unit (MMU) under the Bureau of Indian Affairs. “Violence against Indigenous peoples is a crisis that has been underfunded for decades,” the Interior Secretary said in a statement. She added, “Far too often, murders and missing persons cases in Indian country go unsolved and unaddressed, leaving families and communities devastated. The new MMU will provide the resources and leadership to prioritize these cases and coordinate resources to hold people accountable, keep our communities safe, and provide closure for families.”

In 2018, the Urban Indian Health Institute (UIHI) published a groundbreaking report that was one of the first attempts to quantify the scale of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls crisis. Anchorage was listed as having the third-highest number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIW), and with 52 cases, Alaska ranked fourth in the nation for the highest number of MMIW cases. Since then, Data for Indigenous Justice has issued an updated report for Alaska’s MMIWG data that far outstrip the figures reported by UIHI in 2018. Currently, there are 229 unsolved cases of MMIWG in Alaska. These numbers represent loved ones and family members.

https://www.doi.gov/news/secretary-haaland-creates-new-missing-murdered-unit-pursue-justice-missing-or-murdered-american

https://www.bia.gov/bia/ojs/missing-murdered-unit

Data for Indigenous Justice 2021 Report: We Are Calling to You: Alaska’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Womxn and Girls: https://dataforindigenousjustice.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/We-Are-Calling-To-You-1.pdf


Brackeen v. Haaland decision does not impact the Indian Child Welfare Act in Alaska

, https://anjc.org/2021/04/brackeen-v-haaland-decision-does-not-impact-the-indian-child-welfare-act-in-alaska/

After waiting over a year, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, issued an opinion in Brackeen v. Haaland upholding Congress’ authority to enact the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). ANJC and our partners are currently reviewing the complicated 325-page decision, but an initial review indicates that the decision should have no impact on the ICWA’s application in Alaska.

ANJC is committed to representing Alaska Tribes and advocating for them under ICWA. This decision has no precedential effect outside of the Northern District of Texas. As the judges stated in the decision: “This case will not have binding effect in a single adoption. That’s right, whether our court upholds the law in its entirety or says that the whole thing exceeds congressional power, no state family court is required to follow what we say.”

However, it is important to be alert for wrongful or misguided attempts to use the Brackeen decision in Alaska ICWA cases. Please let ANJC know if you hear of any such attempts.  icwa@anjc.net


Your One-Stop Shop for Justice

May 12, 2021, https://anjc.org/2021/05/your-one-stop-shop-for-justice/

ANJC relaunches website

 

On May 5, 2021, the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) celebrated its 28th year of providing advocacy, prevention, and intervention services for Alaska Native people and others. The organization marked a second milestone that same week, launching a completely redesigned website aimed at making its programs and services more accessible to Alaskans with justice-related needs.

 

“In the first weeks after our soft launch, we immediately started getting new web-based applications for our advocacy programs—all of it organic,” said ANJC Senior Director of Operations Tammy Ashley. “The amount of traffic we’ve already seen is mind-blowing. It tells us that there are many people looking for justice support.”

 

Now, individuals seeking justice service can go to anjc.org to easily access an array of justice-related programs, from advocacy for victims of domestic violence, to services for Elders and youth, to representation for Tribes involved in Indian Child Welfare Act cases. ANJC also offers adult and youth reentry services, as well as youth development programming.

 

Thanks to funding from the Rasmuson Foundation, the website redesign was a two-year collaboration with Clutch Media.

 

The new website emphasizes easy connection to ANJC services and confidentiality. There is a “quick exit” button on every page of the website that allows visitors to quickly navigate away from anjc.org in order to maintain their privacy.

 

The website also features a calendar of ANJC events, social media feeds, social justice updates, and a web-based application for services.

 

Another priority Tammy had for the redesign was to be culturally relevant, yet user-friendly. The site features candid photos of Alaska Native people and others in the community who might seek ANJC’s services.

 

In other words, ANJC is here for all Alaskans—and it’s easier than ever to connect to ANJC programs.

 

Visit the newly redesigned ANJC website today.


Opportunities for Tribes to Collaborate with the State of Alaska

June 3, 2021, https://anjc.org/2021/06/opportunities-for-tribes-to-collaborate-with-the-state-of-alaska/

There are several options for Alaska Tribes to work with the State on justice-related matters. One of the options provides an opportunity to become involved in State criminal matters involving tribal citizens.

Three Opportunities for Tribes to Collaborate with the State of Alaska


Making Victims’ Voices Heard

June 28, 2021, https://anjc.org/2021/06/making-victims-voices-heard/

ANJC Advocate Kayla Cox’s passion for helping assault victims goes beyond the office and into the classroom 

ANJC Advocate Kayla Cox

Kayla Cox came to the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) as an intern for the Reentry Program in 2018. But while her interest in reentry led her to ANJC, her experience working for the organization inspired a new area of focus: advocacy for victims of sexual assault.

Starting in 2019, Kayla pivoted to working with ANJC’s advocacy team, where she could provide support to women and other individuals who had experienced sexual assault or domestic violence. “Advocacy became a passion of mine because it allows survivors the opportunity to have a voice in situations where voices often go unheard,” she said.

Through advocacy, ANJC helps victims navigate the court system and access legal representation; advocates assist individuals with referrals to additional resources, case management, safety planning, court accompaniment, and other culturally sensitive services.

Kayla’s passion for advocating on behalf of individuals who have experienced sexual assault goes beyond the workplace. This year, she graduated from Alaska Pacific University (APU) with a bachelor’s in counseling psychology after completing a senior project that identified trends in sexual assault awareness among APU students.

Her project collected anonymous feedback from APU students to measure the trends in sexual assault awareness across the university. Kayla intends to use the results of her study to help expand resources on campus and in the community.

ANJC Advocate Kayla Cox completed her APU senior project, which identified trends in sexual assault awareness among APU students.

In her study, she emphasized inclusivity, pointing out that gender, race, sexual orientation, and other identity factors impact how an individual experiences sexual assault.

“In order to offer inclusive assistance and resources, we have to have inclusive data,” Kayla said in a feature on 2021 graduating seniors highlighted by APU.

Marlene Mack, ANJC Senior Program Manager for Advocacy and Kayla’s supervisor, isn’t surprised by the focus of Kayla’s project.

“It really shows that her work is her passion,” Marlene said.

Part of Kayla’s advocacy work is supporting victims through the Sexual Assault Response Team. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, she made sure victims had the support they needed, offering virtual options for the individuals with whom she worked. As soon as in-person meetings were possible, Kayla “jumped right in,” Marlene said. “She has a gift. She was born to do advocacy work.”

Since graduating, Kayla has continued to collaborate with other organizations, like Standing Together Against Rape, to provide resources for victims. She also actively incorporates cultural representation into her advocacy work. Now that she has earned her degree, Kayla is considering returning to school to pursue a master’s degree.

“Through my work, I am able to help support and guide survivors to find the best options for their healing,” Kayla said. “By providing the opportunity for survivors to be heard, I’m able to contribute to breaking the stigma around sexual violence through giving power back to our survivors.”


Voices for Justice: 2021 Year in Review

October 27, 2021, https://anjc.org/2021/10/year-in-review-2021/

 

Growth in a year of challenge

Last year, the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) served 7,950 individuals through its programs—an 87 percent increase since 2016. In a year when a pandemic often made it difficult for people to connect, ANJC found innovative ways to bring its services to more people than ever.

With staff now working both on-site and remotely, ANJC has reimagined how it delivers services, making it easier and safer for youth, Elders, Tribes, victims and survivors of violence, and people recently released from prison to find the assistance they need.

Meanwhile, funding from COVID assistance sources allowed ANJC to provide its services to a more diverse community of people.

Helping the Most Vulnerable

Tammy Ashley, Senior Director of Operations

ANJC launched two major initiatives over the past year, focusing on human trafficking and Elder services.

“There’s very little data, compared to the Lower 48, on human trafficking in Alaska, especially in our rural communities,” said Tammy Ashley, ANJC senior director of operations. ANJC aims to change that through a landscape analysis it has undertaken, in partnership with Stellar Group, that will illuminate the needs and gaps in services for victims of trafficking statewide.

Armed with this data, ANJC is offering training to communities throughout the state, helping providers in rural areas develop skills to work with victims.

Through a partnership with Southcentral Foundation, ANJC also grew its Elder program this year. ANJC’s staff now includes a lawyer and a paralegal who help Elders navigate the legal system, ensure the protection of Elders’ rights, and offer access to emergency funding, among other services.

Amplifying the Voices of Alaska Tribes

Alex Cleghorn, Senior Legal and Policy Director

“This year, we’ve seen that in the cases we’re involved in, children are more likely to reunify with their families,” said Alex Cleghorn, ANJC’s senior director of legal and policy.

It’s proof of what ANJC’s Tribal ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act) Representation team believed: “Having lawyers involved in ICWA cases isn’t just theoretically helping Tribes and the state meet the promise of ICWA; it’s actually showing in the outcomes.”

Over the past year, ANJC provided representation in Alaska State Court ICWA matters in over 100 cases—ensuring that Tribal ICWA workers from across Alaska have legal support and that Tribes’ voices are heard in court cases.

Representation isn’t just about appearing in court in support of Tribes, though. It’s also about ensuring that Alaska Native people are represented at all levels of the justice system—as lawyers, paralegals, judges. ANJC’s Native Law Fellow program, which launches this year, creates an opportunity for recent law school graduates to work in the field of Native law.

“The Native Law Fellow program is hopefully a way to encourage law students to come back to our Native communities,” Alex said. “ANJC’s law fellows will engage directly with our people and gain exposure to a variety of law.”

Finally, CITC’s new Court Kiosk, available to all ANJC participants, connected individuals who needed to appear in court with a virtual portal to Alaska’s justice system—a crucial service during the pandemic.

Support and Safety

While ANJC has, since its inception, been a resource for adult victims of domestic and other violence, it wasn’t until this year that the organization extended its advocacy outreach to youth.

“When we focus on one person, we help one person,” Tammy pointed out. “But if we look at both parents and children—whether the youth are primary or secondary victims of violence—we have a larger effect.”

Providing support to young victims of violence is part of ANJC’s strategy to reduce the number of youth incarcerated in juvenile justice. Through advocacy, workshops on healthy relationships and teen dating violence, youth support groups, anti-trafficking work, mentorship, and case management, ANJC hopes to set young people up for success and prevent them from later needing reentry services.

For all individuals who access ANJC resources virtually, staff has provided technology that allows people to connect remotely. More significantly, they’ve built in safety measures that allow survivors to protect themselves.

“Because we don’t know who else is in the room when a victim of violence is on the phone or the computer with ANJC,” Tammy clarified, “it’s important to give them a way to quickly get off the call or alert us that their situation is unsafe.”

The newly redesigned ANJC website also features a “quick exit” button that allows individuals in unsafe environments to close their internet browser and protect their privacy.

Culturally Informed Services

Although many ANJC services are available to anyone, regardless of heritage, the organization infuses Alaska Native culture into all its programs.

“We’ve found that indigenous people, regardless of where they’re from, understand the need for that cultural component,” said Tammy. “All our participants have enjoyed the cultural aspect—but for indigenous people, it feeds something in their soul that makes them think of home. It’s an important part of their healing.”

As she looks forward to ANJC’s next year, Tammy anticipates more growth across the organization’s 21 programs and services. Already a nationally recognized leader in Native justice, ANJC continues to act as a resource to other organizations across the country for providing trauma-informed, culturally appropriate programs to victims, survivors, youth, Elders, and others.

To support ANJC in its mission to achieve justice for Alaska Native people, considering giving to the 2021 Voices for Justice fundraiser. Be a Voice for Justice: Give today.


Real People, Real Justice: Jamie

, https://anjc.org/2021/10/real-people-real-justice-jamie/

ANJC fundraiser provides support for victims of violence

I should just kill you.

Those were the words that followed Jamie as she left her home. She had taken her children to stay with her sister many times before, in an effort to give her husband space to cool off. But something was different this time.

Jamie gathered some belongings, then headed for the door with her daughter in her arms—and her husband pushed her. Her daughter’s head struck the bannister. Jamie knelt to check on her—but her husband grabbed Jamie by the neck and slammed her head into the ground. He bit her face, then growled those words.

I should just kill you.

But when Jamie called the Anchorage Police Department (APD) to report her husband’s actions, everything went wrong.

“He lied and told them our son bit my face,” she recalled. “My son was three at the time and had never bit me or ever exhibited violent behavior. I’ll never forget how scared he was when he saw his dad doing that to me. I’ll never forget his scream.”

A Safe Place

When the APD officer didn’t believe her story, Jamie was angry and frustrated.

“I didn’t feel like my voice was being heard,” she said.

While looking for help through another organization, Jamie was referred to the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC).

Since its inception in 1993, ANJC has provided advocacy on behalf of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. In 2015, ANJC added services for victims of dating violence and stalking, later expanding its scope further to include human trafficking survivors. Through an array of culturally sensitive services, ANJC supports women and other survivors of violence with legal assistance, case management, and referrals to services.

Most of all, ANJC offers a caring and experienced staff who know what it means to be believed.

“It’s really important for people to find a safe place, which ANJC offers,” said Marlene Mack, senior manager of ANJC’s Advocacy programs.

Before Marlene worked for ANJC, she came to the organization seeking help as a victim of domestic violence herself.

“I didn’t know what help I needed; I just knew I needed to get myself and my children a safe home,” Marlene recalled. “But the ANJC advocate and family law attorney helped me determine my need and find assistance. For me, it’s very personal. I know what it takes to walk through the doors. That’s why our services are all survivor-based—if a service isn’t the right fit, we’ll edit it to meet the need.”

Making Tough Decisions

For Jamie, those needs included filing a restraining order, starting divorce proceedings, and arranging shared custody of her children.

“Being so naïve about the [legal] process, the ANJC team always made sure I was well informed every step of the way,” she said.

She added that in a highly emotional situation, it was crucial to have someone on her side who could walk her through tough decisions. “I feel like there were a couple of times I wouldn’t have made the best decision on my own, without the guidance of ANJC’s legal team.”

Working in collaboration with ANJC’s advocates, the organization’s legal team provides representation to qualifying individuals. ANJC lawyers may also accompany individuals to court, help them apply for other legal services, or assist with obtaining protective orders.

Thanks to support from ANJC, Jamie now lives in an apartment on her own and shares custody of her children. She graduated from the accounting program at Alaska Career College and works as a payroll administrator for her Native corporation, Bering Straits.

And she still hears from the advocacy team at ANJC.

“I don’t know how many times they’ve called to check on me, and what should have been a ten minute call will turn into an hour and half, just because we’re catching up,” Jamie said. “They listen to me. ANJC’s advocacy team was a light at the end of a very dark time.”

Help ANJC ensure that victims of domestic and other kinds of violence find a safe place and receive legal assistance by donating to this years Voices For Justice fundraiser.


Providing Justice For Alaska’s Tribes – Serving Our Nome Community

November 4, 2021, https://anjc.org/2021/11/lola-tobuk-success-story/
Lola Tobuk, Director of Family Services for Nome Eskimo Community Tribe

A Q&A with Lola Tobuk:

Q: Tell us about the work you do on behalf of the Tribe as it relates to Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) cases?

Lola: Nome Eskimo Community is one of 229 Tribes in the state of Alaska. As such, we have the authority under ICWA to intervene and become a legal party on cases involving our Tribal children and families. When a Child Protective Services agency removes—or is intending to remove—a child from our community, we become involved with the investigation.  By intervening, we become a legal party. We advocate what is in the child’s best interest, ensuring family contact or other positive outcomes benefitting the children and the family.

Q: How has the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) helped improve Nome’s Tribal community?

Lola: Before partnering with ANJC, we did our best to protect our families ourselves. But we are non-attorney Tribal representatives. One of our cases, in particular, became litigious and we explored options for legal assistance. That’s when we learned about ANJC’s program to assist Tribes.

An attorney at ANJC reviewed our case and provided legal representation for us. He took the lead with the public defenders that were on the case. He was very knowledgeable of the Child In Need of Aid rules as well as court processes and procedures. He really encouraged us to assert our authority when things go sideways. Now when we speak, the court listens to what the Tribe is saying and requesting.

We’ve been very, very lucky to have ANJC represent us on this very difficult case.

Q: Do you see yourself coming back to ANJC for future representation or assistance on cases?

Lola: Absolutely. We recently reached out to them for another challenging case. We advocate for Tribal entities in rural areas to consider asking ANJC for help. We will most definitely request assistance from ANJC in the future.

 

Q: Why is it important that Tribal voices are heard in these cases and Tribes can represent themselves?

Lola: The Indian Child Welfare Act was passed because many of our Tribal children were being adopted out to non-Native families. They grow up not knowing anything about who they are culturally or where they come from. They are lost to us. So we do our very best as non-attorney Tribal representatives to ensure that our children are placed with relatives whenever possible. We make sure that the family is afforded adequate contact or family connectedness.

During the life of a case, we make sure that our children are given the opportunity to participate in cultural and traditional activities, like Native dancing. When we can, we provide Alaska Native foods for our kids and our parents.

And we make sure that OCS does what they’re supposed to do—under ICWA—in that they’re required to provide active efforts to make sure that reunification is possible for our children and parents.

###


First National Bank Alaska Supports Justice for Alaska Native People

November 8, 2022, https://anjc.org/2022/11/first-national-bank-alaska-supports-justice-for-alaska-native-people/

The financial institution donated $5,000 to the Alaska Native Justice Center

On Tuesday, November 1, Alaska Native Justice Center representatives received a donation of $5,000 from First National Bank Alaska.

“First National is proud to support justice for Alaska Native people and for all Alaskans,” said First National Vice President and CRA Officer Natasha Pope.

Natasha presented a check to Alex Cleghorn, senior Legal and Policy director for the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC).

“ANJC delivers vital resources and legal services for a portion of Alaska’s population that faces significant barriers within the state’s justice systems,” she added. “First National’s donation to ANJC demonstrates our commitment to promoting dignity, respect, and equality for all Alaska Native people.”

ANJC provides an array of programs for Alaska Native and other people experiencing domestic violence, reentering the community after incarceration, and recovering from substance abuse. The organization also offers legal services to individuals and to Tribes and protects Elders from being victimized by financial exploitation and neglect.

 

FNBA Business Support Specialist David Haynes; ANJC Tribal Justice Facilitator Kelsey Potdevin; CITC President and CEO Gloria O’Neill; and First National Vice President and CRA Officer Natasha Pope. Pope and Haynes recently presented ANJC with a $5,000 donation to support justice and equality for Alaska Native and other people served by the organization.

While the majority of ANJC’s programs are funded by grants from the Department of Justice (DOJ), unrestricted funding like the donation from First National allows ANJC to broaden its assistance to a wider population.

“We’re grateful for the funding we receive from the DOJ,” Alex Cleghorn said. “But under DOJ guidelines, we’re often restricted to serving victims of certain types of crime or in specific geographic areas. The funds we get from donors like First National are particularly valuable because they allow us to serve people and interests that may not fit in the prescribed box.”

Funding provided by corporate and individual donors enables ANJC staff to address the needs of most people who walk through the organization’s doors.

“We see people in need, and it’s really challenging for our team to turn people away,” Alex added. “To have flexibility in what we can do and how we can help makes a difference. We’re so incredibly thankful to First National Bank Alaska and appreciate their commitment to justice for Alaska Native people and others.”

You can make a difference, too. From November 14 – December 12, ANJC’s Voices for Justice fundraiser aims to raise $100,000 in unrestricted funding that will directly help Alaska Native people and other Alaskans.

Be a voice for justice: Donate today.


Help NICWA Identify Child Welfare Training Barriers

November 9, 2022, https://anjc.org/2022/11/help-nicwa-identify-child-welfare-training-barriers/

The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) is partnering with the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) to conduct a survey of tribal child welfare workers in Alaska. Your anonymous participation in this survey will help identify training needs and barriers that Alaska tribal child welfare workers face. Findings from the survey will support ANJC in tailoring trainings for the Alaska Indian Child Welfare Conference in 2023.

Background:

ANJC contracted with NICWA for assistance with conducting a statewide needs assessment survey of tribal child welfare workers. NICWA will conduct the survey and present the findings and recommendations in a written report to ANJC.

What will survey information be used for?

ANJC will use the findings and recommendations to help shape the content of the Alaska Indian Child Welfare Conference in 2023. Identifying information will not be used or stored. All responses are anonymous.

Who should take the survey?

We invite all tribal child welfare workers in Alaska to fill out this survey; this includes tribal family youth service workers, family wellness (prevention) workers, child welfare line workers, supervisors, leads, etc. It’s important that we hear from as many workers as possible to really understand their training needs and preferences. Please take the survey if you’re a tribal child welfare worker. Also, please feel free to forward this to other workers to take the survey.

How to participate:

Take the survey here. The survey will take no more than 15 minutes to complete. Please fill out this survey by November 18, 2022.

Raffle:

If you’d like to enter our raffle for one of three $50 Amazon gift cards, please include your email address in Survey Monkey. Your email address will only be used to send your Amazon gift card should you be one of our winners.

Questions?

Email questions to Alexis Contreras at alexis@nicwa.org or Sarah Kastelic at skastelic@nicwa.org.


Voices for Justice: 2022 Year in Review

, https://anjc.org/2022/11/2022-year-in-review/

Throughout 2022, the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) continued to deliver and grow its direct services to people seeking justice-related support. For victims of crimes, survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault, Elders, those in recovery, and individuals rejoining society after incarceration, ANJC’s programs made a tangible difference.

This year, though, ANJC also helped influence Alaska’s justice system on a broader scale. Through its Tribal Justice Support and Social Justice Advocacy efforts, ANJC worked for equitable treatment of Alaska Native people on a local and national scale.

In 2022:

  • ANJC’s legal team provided expertise for discussions that ultimately led to the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which includes a special provision addressing Alaska-specific issues—including incorporating the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act definition of “village” as lands where Tribes have public safety jurisdiction.
    • The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2022 also reaffirmed that Alaska Tribes have concurrent jurisdiction with the state over Native people who commit violent crimes within Native communities.
    • “Supporting the Tribes who want to implement the Reauthorization Act represents a good portion of the work we’ll be doing, going forward into 2023 and beyond,” said ANJC Senior Legal and Policy Director Alex Cleghorn.
  • ANJC launched its Law Clerk and Fellowship programs, which encourage law students and recent law graduates to work in the field of Native law. Recent law school graduate Rob Waldroup served as ANJC’s first Law Fellow. ANJC also hosted the first ever law clerk event, informing dozens of law students from across the nation on Alaska Native legal issues.
  • Restorative Justice staff at ANJC created a new model of peer- and staff-led groups to better equip those who are reintegrating into the community after incarceration with the skills they need to be independent and successful.
  • 23 people graduated from the Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) program, which aims to change how individuals make decisions by increasing moral reasoning. Under a new initiative to increase community involvement in lowering recidivism rates, each graduate was sponsored by a local business.
    • “The support from local businesses shows that the community cares and understands what a big deal it is for our participants to complete the MRT program as part of their growth and reintegration process,” said Restorative Justice Program Manager Eva Manzano.
  • The Advocacy team secured a Department of Justice grant that enables them to provide sexual assault response, prevention, and outreach services to teens and adults through community partnerships. An additional Indian Health Service Domestic Violence Prevention grant will support ANJC’s efforts to reduce the victimization of Alaska Native/American Indian people in Anchorage.
  • ANJC brought together partners including the Anchorage Police Department, the FBI, Alaska State Troopers, Covenant House, and Alaska Institute for Justice to form a Human Trafficking Task Force aimed at better training police to identify victims and survivors and to strengthen referrals among service providers.
  • By placing an advocate at Anchorage’s Downtown Hope Center, ANJC delivered case management to unhoused single women who might not otherwise have access to supportive services.
    • “It’s often very difficult for the women at the Hope Center to come into ANJC’s offices,” explained Advocacy Program Manager Fabienne Smith. “Being present at the shelter through this partnership to address needs and provide cultural activities really allows us to meet people where they’re at.”
  • Youth Reentry staff built on its success bringing cultural activities, life skills workshops, and reentry case management to young people at McLaughlin Youth Center, expanding in-reach to juvenile detention centers in other parts of the state, including Juneau.

The successes ANJC achieves each year is supported in part by donations made during our annual Voices for Justice campaign. Your contribution makes a difference: Be a voice for justice. Visit our Voices for Justice fundraising campaign page to learn more or make your donation.


A Stepping Stone to Success

, https://anjc.org/2022/11/a-stepping-stone-to-success/

By partnering with youth detention centers, ANJC aims to reduce recidivism among young offenders

When Ian Millard left the McLaughlin Youth Center (MYC) at 19, he didn’t think he needed help finding a job or a place to live. But he had entered the juvenile detention center at the age of 12; he was starting from zero, and he was on his own.

Back to Where They Started

He had reason to worry. According to data collected by Alaska’s Department of Juvenile Justice, 37 percent of youth released from MYC in 2020 reoffended and reentered a juvenile facility. In the same year, 23 percent of Alaska’s youth offenders statewide returned to detention, or recidivated.

“When a young person leaves a treatment or detention facility, they may be returning to unstable home settings, struggle to remain in school, or lack the skills needed to be successful,” pointed out Austin Johnson, a Restorative Justice program manager at the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC).

Young people who are about to leave MYC work with the institution’s caseworkers, who help them plan their transition back into the community. But that support is only available for 90 days. After that, youth like Ian are on their own.

That’s where ANJC comes in.

ANJC staff partner with MYC and other juvenile detention centers to help young people ages 14 – 22 transition out of facilities.

Tools That Support Stability

ANJC staff partner with MYC and other juvenile detention centers to help young people ages 14 – 22 transition out of facilities. At MYC, ANJC maintains an office onsite, allowing youth advocates to provide Learning Circle groups, Life Skills classes, and case management.

“The whole purpose of us being there is to grow that connection with the youth, so that once they leave, we can immediately provide reentry services,” Austin explained.

That connection allows advocates to help young people navigate aspects of “adulting” that might otherwise be difficult for a 19-year-old, like Ian, to figure out. Advocates can provide assistance with housing, education, employment, legal services, cultural connectedness, health care, and other related services—the kinds of necessities that help young offenders find the stability and other protective factors that contribute to reducing recidivism.

Steps into Adulthood

Initially, Ian didn’t feel like he needed assistance. At MYC, he had developed many of the skills he would need to become a successful adult, and he had participated in ANJC activities, including learning effective communications tools.

“But when I was released, the housing market was terrible. I couldn’t get an apartment,” Ian shared.

ANJC helped place him at a halfway house until he could find permanent housing. When he eventually secured an apartment—with ANJC assistance—he realized there were things he hadn’t thought of.

“I had nothing for cooking, no bed, no furniture. I didn’t think about the vast majority of things—like buying a cutting board. Who thinks of that?” Ian said.

An ANJC youth advocate took him shopping for necessities. Ian also received assistance with obtaining his driver’s license and paying for school, where he is learning welding and mechanics, while he also works a full-time job.

Those simple steps—finding stable housing, landing a job, purchasing things like a bed and kitchen supplies—can make a tangible difference in whether a young person stays out of detention or recidivates.

While the average length of ANJC’s case management support for youth leaving treatment or detention is six months, said Austin, “They can continue with our Youth Reentry programs for as long as they need, as long as they’re actively working toward the goals they’ve set with their case managers.”

Statewide Services

This year, ANJC expanded their Youth Reentry services to Johnson Youth Center (JYC) in Juneau. ANJC’s Anchorage-based case management staff provides ongoing virtual services, including bi-weekly Life Skills groups, with young offenders in Juneau. Once every three months, they visit JYC in person and engage the residents in live Life Skills groups, Learning Circles, cultural activities, and community events.

Based on their success with JYC, ANJC Youth Reentry aims to offer similar services to additional Division of Juvenile Justice facilities.

The work ANJC does to equip young people to become successful adults would be impossible without your support. Be a voice for justice: Consider a donation to the Voices for Justice fundraiser.

Learn more about ANJC’s Youth Reentry and other youth-focused programs at anjc.org.


Against the Odds

, https://anjc.org/2022/11/against-the-odds/

Alaska Native people face long odds in the justice system—but with the help of ANJC, Toni Sanderson beat the statistics

Toni Sanderson isn’t a statistic. But her experience is reflected in numbers that tell the story of an imbalance of justice in Alaska.

Numbers like: 35. That’s the percentage of Anchorage’s Alaska Native population that has witnessed domestic violence. [1]

Toni grew up in Hydaburg, in southeast Alaska, where she saw her own share of violence in the home. “My mom suffered from alcoholism, and she lived a party lifestyle,” Toni recalled. “I grew up watching my mom be physically abused, and I was sexually abused at a young age, too.”

When she lost her mother to suicide, Toni didn’t know how to cope. She tried cutting, considered suicide herself—and then, like her mother, she turned to substance abuse.

Getting Out and Getting Help

“I was a drug user for six years,” Toni said, “and I needed to supply my addiction. So I stole from people, I lied to them, I cheated. I ended up in prison, with a lot of regrets.”

In prison, Toni decided she wanted to make a change. But when she was released, she faced another significant number: For 62 percent of people who serve time for a felony, their release begins a countdown to the day they return to prison [2]. Alaska Native people, in particular, face staggering odds: They have higher rates of re-arrest and reconviction than offenders of any other ethnicity in Alaska [3].

Toni was well aware that in order to stay out of prison, she needed support. She started by entering transitional housing at the House of Transformation. There, she heard about an organization that specializes in providing Alaska Native people with substance abuse disorders who are transitioning out of prison: the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC).

Safety Net

Numbers matter at ANJC, too. For instance: 12 months. That’s when the highest recidivism rates occur—the period of time when someone released from incarceration is most likely to reoffend and go back to prison [4].

The reason often boils down to a lack of support. The things the general public sometimes take for granted—access to education and stable housing, a secure job, a social safety net, even basic identification—are often difficult or nearly impossible for previously incarcerated people to obtain.

ANJC helps people stay out of the corrections system by providing comprehensive, culturally informed support services, including financial support, housing or rental assistance, employment, transportation, and support groups. Every year, ANJC helps about 500 individual successfully reenter the community following incarceration.

Toni is one of those individuals. ANJC Case Worker Kuuipo Miramontes worked with her to secure employment. Then, when a false positive on a drug test sent Toni back to prison, Kuuipo advocated for Toni to keep her job.

“She went to bat for me,” Toni said. Kuuipo also got Toni bus passes for transportation, took her shopping for work clothes, and provided rental assistance.

Escaping a Different Prison

Getting and keeping a job wouldn’t have been possible, though, if Toni hadn’t dedicated herself to recovery. Although she had engaged with recovery programs before, she said, “I wasn’t ready then. This time, I was ready to escape from my own mental and emotional prison.”

She joined ANJC’s Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) group, a peer-driven support group that equips participants with better decision-making and reasoning skills by helping them focus on the moral aspects of their past substance-abuse illnesses and behaviors. MRT group participants also complete 20 community service hours.

“When I was fresh out of prison, ANJC and the MRT program gave me the necessary tolls I needed to get my life back together,” Toni said.

“Not the Same Toni as Before”

Today, numbers tell a different story about Toni’s life. Like 19: That’s how many months she’s been sober. Or 3/22: That’s the month she earned her Peer Support certificate, which equips her to act as a mentor to others in recovery.

Or 15: the age of Toni’s son, who lives with her aunt and uncle in Hydaburg. “He’s safe and well taken care of, and I get to be part of his life again,” Toni said.

She’s holding down a job as a kitchen manager for Denny’s. One day, she would like to be a youth drug and alcohol counselor; she hopes for the chance to help a young person before they get on the wrong path.

“That’s why I want to share my story—in hopes that it inspires somebody to change their life,” she said. “Two years ago, I was digging my way out of a grave, begging God to just please take me. But I’m not the same Toni I was before. I’m never going to be that Toni again. The Alaska Native Justice Center saved my life. It showed me how to love myself again.”

You can help people like Toni make real change in their lives. Be a voice for justice: Donate to ANJC’s Voices for Justice fundraising campaign today.

—-

[1] Alaska 2013-2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey, Div. Public Health, Section of Chronic Disease Prevention

[2] Alaska Criminal Justice Commission (ACJC). (10/28/2021) Annual Report 2021 p. 31

[3] Alaska Judicial Council. (November 2011). Criminal Recidivism in Alaska, pp 53-54.

[4] AJC. (November 2011).  Criminal Recidivism in Alaska, 2008 and 2009, pp. 15-16.

 

See more of Toni’s story and other ANJC impact here.


Voices for Justice: Raising Funds to Support Equality and Justice for Alaska Native People and Other Alaskans

, https://anjc.org/2022/11/voices-for-justice-raising-funds-support-equality-alaska-native-people/

Your Voice. Your Justice.

The numbers tell the story: Alaska Native people face barriers in the justice system.

Alaska Native women are nearly four times more likely to be sexually assaulted than non-Native women [1]. Alaska Native children are about seven times more likely than White children to be in foster care [2]. And while Alaska Native people represent only 16 percent of the general population, 42 percent of Alaska’s incarcerated population is Alaska Native [3].

But behind every statistic is a person, a family, and a community.

People like Toni Sanderson, who struggled with addiction and ended up in prison. Communities like the youth incarcerated at McLaughlin Youth Center, who often leave with few resources and face the very real possibility of reoffending and going back to detention. Or the broader Alaska Native community, which faces significant barriers to receiving equal and fair treatment in the justice system.

The Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) works to change the numbers [4]. Every day, ANJC promotes fair, equitable, and culturally appropriate treatment for Alaska Native people throughout the state.

Through its advocacy, prevention, and intervention programs, ANJC supports survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and human trafficking. It partners with Tribes to improve child welfare and local justice systems across Alaska. ANJC teaches, connects, and assists. ANJC breaks down barriers.

You can help. Our annual Voices for Justice fundraising campaign kicks off this week. We’re raising $100,000 to support our programs for Alaska Native people and other Alaskans—and we can’t do it without your help.

In the coming weeks, you’ll read stories of people empowered by ANJC’s services to change their lives. You will see how ANJC staff works to inform and improve the justice system on behalf of Alaska Native people. None of this critical work is possible without your support.

Be a Voice for Justice. Click here to donate today.

 

[1] Municipality of Anchorage data (2018)

[2] Vadapalli, D., Hanna, V., Passini, J. (November 2014). “Trends in Age, Gender, and Ethnicity Among Children in Foster Care in Alaska.” Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska, Anchorage

[3] Alaska Criminal Justice Commission Annual Report 2021

[4] The Alaska Native Justice Center is a 501c3 nonprofit


Voices for Justice: Growing Native Leaders in the Field of Law

December 2, 2022, https://anjc.org/2022/12/first-national-bank-alaska-supports-justice-for-alaska-native-people-2/

With new opportunities for law clerks and fellows, ANJC is equipping young legal minds with knowledge and experience in Native law

 

Alaska doesn’t have a law school. Recruiting attorneys from the Lower 48 is difficult, and finding attorneys with experience in Alaska Native law is even harder.

But the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) has a strategy to change that. With its new Native Law Clerkship and Fellowship programs, the organization is giving law students and recent law school graduates hands-on experience working in the field of Native law—and helping to create a cohort of Native legal professionals who can serve their communities across the country.

Learning about Alaska Native Tribes

Robert Waldroup

Robert Waldroup didn’t expect to find himself in Alaska following the completion of his law degree at the University of New Mexico (UNM). He grew up in western North Carolina on the Qualla Boundary reservation of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. As a law student, he enrolled in UNM’s Indian Law Program and served as an editor in chief of the Tribal Law Journal.

When he accepted two scholarly articles on Alaska tribes—a topic the journal had never addressed before—Rob was inspired to learn more about Alaska Native law.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about Alaska Native Tribes versus tribes in the Lower 48,” he explained. “Understanding that difference is really what I wanted to get out of this experience to take back to the Lower 48.”

Practical Application

Rob served as ANJC’s first law clerk while he completed his degree. This August, he began his fellowship, focusing on direct client services and tribal justice support.

As a law fellow, Rob provides technical assistance and training to Alaska Native Tribes and directly serves ANJC clients seeking legal advice. ANJC’s Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and Family Law attorneys frequently invite Rob to sit in on family law cases and cases that pertain to ICWA or Child in Need of Aid matters in state court. He has also observed Tribal and state court proceedings on domestic violence and protective orders involving Indigenous people.

“It’s one thing to read about the law and study it in school. But that doesn’t really teach you to be an attorney. I have learned so much just listening in on these proceedings and seeing the actual, practical application of the law,” Rob said.

Increasing Native Representation

Rob is also helping organize the 2023 Color of Justice event, an annual gathering of Alaska high schoolers that encourages them to explore careers in the legal profession.

“It’s really important that young people see themselves in these professions—that someone who looks like them is there, telling them, You can do this job,” Rob said.

Both Color of Justice and the Law Fellowship aim to increase representation and visibility of Native people in the legal field.

ANJC Senior Legal and Policy Director Alex Cleghorn said the goal is to create a “pipeline” of lawyers who understand Native-specific issues.

“The more lawyers we have who understand the unique complexities of Native law, the more we can help ensure Native people are treated with equality in our legal system,” said Alex.

In that spirit, ANJC also hosted the first-ever Native Law and Culture Day in June this year. Each year, law clerks travel to Alaska for a summer clerkship, but most are not exposed to Alaska Native history and culture. The goal of ANJC’s Native Law and Culture Day is to immerse law clerks in the unique legal landscape affecting Alaska’s people and tribes and to develop Native law leaders who can advocate for justice for Native people.

“We can’t hire every law clerk who comes to Alaska—but we can do our part to make sure that every one of them walks away with a good base of understanding of our distinctive legal issues,” said Alex.

Next year, ANJC hopes to expand its reach by inviting the Arizona State University Indian Law Program to spend its annual on-site student learning experience in Alaska. ANJC expects 20 law students, faculty, and alumni to visit for a week in March, gaining experience in the unique legal and geographic landscape of Alaska.

Paying it forward

“Looking forward, I think doing this work will allow me to have a great foundation starting my career,” Rob reflected about his time as a law fellow with ANJC. “The knowledge I’ve gained here will serve me well.”

When his fellowship concludes, he plans to seek out work with a similar nonprofit organization or with a Tribal government as house council. He especially enjoys supporting Tribal courts and encouraging them to exercise their sovereignty.

Regardless of what he does, he will start his career equipped with knowledge and experience in Alaska Native law he could not have otherwise developed—knowledge that he can use to encourage others and effect change.

“Opening doors and inspiring others is really what I aim to do in my career to inspire others to enter the legal profession—because it is a profession where you can invoke changes within the lives of Indigenous people,” Rob said.

To learn more about ANJC’s legal services, visit anjc.org. Programs like the Law Clerkship and Fellowship are made possible in part by funding raised through the annual Voices for Justice campaign. Donate here.


Over $100,000 Raised During ANJC’s Voices for Justice Campaign

December 21, 2022, https://anjc.org/2022/12/over-100000-raised-during-anjcs-voices-for-justice-campaign/

The funds will support ANJC’s mission of justice for all Alaskans

Alaska Native Justice Center kicked off its 29th annual Voices for Justice fundraiser with a goal of bringing in $100,000 for the organization. This year, between corporate sponsors, individual donors, community fundraisers, and a successful online auction, ANJC raised $105,000.

Reaching that figure was a community effort – one that will have a huge impact on ANJC’s services.

“The money raised goes to support our participants and our clients,” said ANJC’s Senior Director of Legal and Policy Alex Cleghorn. “Food and groceries, transportation, and housing – some of the things that may not be covered by our federal grants, we can support with this funding.”

Toni Sanderson came to ANJC looking for real change. Today, she describes herself as a new person thanks to her experience.

Kelsey Potdevin, ANJC’s education and outreach manager, echoed Cleghorn’s statement. The donations from this fundraiser are incredibly valuable because there are no constraints on how they can be used.

“The justice needs of our people are complex, and we have to recognize that everyone who seeks help from ANJC has a unique story,” said Kelsey. “Voices for Justice is absolutely essential for boosting ANJC’s unrestricted reserves to ensure we can remain nimble and respond effectively to the needs of the people and tribes we serve.”

This year’s campaign highlighted the life-altering support ANJC provides through sharing Toni Sanderson’s story. With ANJC’s help, Toni overcame drug addiction and incarceration and is currently working toward becoming a youth drug and alcohol counselor.

Alex noted that success takes various forms at ANJC. Success can be acquiring a protective order for someone who is leaving a domestic violence situation. Or it can be one of the hundreds of child welfare cases where ANJC has represented Alaska Tribes in court this year.

The work is tireless and all-encompassing, and Alex is excited to bring ANJC’s capabilities to even more Alaskans.

“For the first time in many years, ANJC received a congressionally designated spending appropriation to help broaden our Tribal justice work to be more statewide,” he said. “I’m looking forward to that work.”

With the contributions ANJC received from the Voices for Justice fundraiser, the organization is in a great position to strengthen its fight for equality and justice for Alaska Native people.


Alaska Native Justice Center Recruiting for Color of Justice Event

February 8, 2023, https://anjc.org/2023/02/alaska-native-justice-center-recruiting-for-color-of-justice-event/

The Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC), in partnership with The CIRI Foundation, Alaska Court System and National Association of Women Judges, and Anchorage School District, is pleased to announce the return to an in-person Color of Justice event in Anchorage April 6-7.

The Color of Justice Program is a two-day conference to encourage high school youth of color to consider the legal profession and the judiciary as career paths. Preference will be given to current high school juniors and seniors.

Program Highlights:
The two-day program includes:

  • An introduction to the Alaska Supreme Court
  • Top 10 reasons to be a lawyer and become a judge
  • Alaska Tribal Justice information
  • “You Be the Judge,” where participants get to learn about real cases
  • Mentor Jet: a speed-mentoring experience
  • Constitutional Cranium: a fun team game geared towards testing their knowledge of Alaska’s Constitution
  • Mock trials

The program is currently recruiting students to participate in the event. If you are interested in signing up your Anchorage School District high schooler for this educational program, please contact Amanda Kuipers.

Apply here.


Youth See Themselves in Legal Professions with Color of Justice

April 20, 2023, https://anjc.org/2023/04/youth-see-themselves-in-legal-professions-with-color-of-justice/

Annual event to encourage young people of color to enter legal field is a success

The 2023 Color of Justice cohort. High school students met April 6 – 7 to learn about professions in the legal field.

This April 6 and 7, 64 Anchorage high school students saw the future—at least, one version of it. Thanks to the Color of Justice program, hosted by the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) and its partners, students got an opportunity to imagine themselves in the legal field.

One student who hadn’t previously considered a legal career before the event reported that, after participating in a mock trial at the Color of Justice event, he wanted to become an attorney working for the defense.

Hosted in partnership with the State of Alaska Court System and the Anchorage School District, the Color of Justice event aims to inspire and encourage historically underrepresented populations in the legal field—mainly women and ethnic minorities—to consider careers as attorneys, judges, and other positions in the legal system.

At Color of Justice, high school students participated in mock trials, met with attorneys and judges, and learned about legal issues important to Alaska Native tribes.

This year, five Alaska Native students were among the participants at the Color of Justice event.

“We hope that the knowledge and connections formed here will inspire students to consider a career in the legal profession and judiciary,” said ANJC Senior Legal and Policy Director Alex Cleghorn. “We are proud that this event supports Alaska Native youth and inspires them to make change in their Tribal communities.”

The event allowed students to meet in small groups with Alaska Native attorneys, law fellows, and state court judges to talk about their career journeys. Alaska Supreme Court Justices also worked directly with the students.

Students also got the chance to experience aspects of working in the legal field and learn more through activities like a mock trial, Constitutional Cranium, and “You Be the Judge,” where participants debated and decided the outcomes of real cases. With “Mentor Jet,” they experienced speed mentoring with legal professionals.

ANJC’s participation in the event was made possible by a generous grant from The CIRI Foundation, which helped cover staff time, giveaways for the students, and transportation. The program received additional support from partners including the American Civil Liberties Union, Alaska Bar Association, Kawerak, Inc., the Bristol Bay Regional Career and Technical Education Program, and University of Alaska Anchorage.

ANJC, the Alaska Court System, and Anchorage School District look forward to hosting more successful events in the future, continuing to empower and inspire the next generation of legal professionals. For more information on ANJC and its programs, visit anjc.org.


ANJC Offers Support for ICWA Staff

May 25, 2023, https://anjc.org/2023/05/anjc-offers-support-for-icwa-staff/

In-Person Training Creates Statewide Connections

Twenty-four Tribal ICWA workers attended an in-person Basic ICWA Training for Tribes in Anchorage put on by ANJC.

When a family needs a well child check in Aniak, it’s part of Mary Kvamme’s job to follow up. She accompanies a state trooper, and sometimes a social services associate comes along, too. As an Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Tribal worker, Mary works alone; the local trooper and associate are all the support she has.

“In the village, we don’t have the lawyers there. We don’t have the social workers there,” she pointed out.

In April, Mary joined 23 other ICWA workers from around the state for the Alaska Native Justice Center’s (ANJC) first Basic ICWA Training for Tribes in Alaska. The training complements ANJC’s other support for ICWA workers in Alaska, including legal representation for Tribes involved in Child in Need of Aid hearings within the Anchorage and Southcentral regions.

“This training is something that’s been needed to fill a gap and make sure that those who do this hard work in their communities have the support they need,” said Casey Groat, ANJC Tribal Justice Facilitator.

Across Alaska, tribes strive to provide necessary ICWA services, but funding, recruitment, and retention of staff can be challenging. While some tribes have a dedicated ICWA coordinator, others have a staff person who only works part-time, or whose time is divided between ICWA work and other duties. Additionally, ICWA caseworkers intervening on behalf of children are often working from remote villages and can only appear in court proceedings by telephone.

While ANJC provides support for ICWA workers in the form of representation and technical assistance, the Introductory Training course provided an opportunity for ICWA staff to get questions answered and to form connections with other workers from all around the state.

The April training covered topics like tribal sovereignty and how tribes can address child safety concerns on their own and advocate for culturally relevant services.

Featured guests included Statewide ICWA Coordinator Tasha Yatchmeneff and Anchorage Regional ICWA Specialist Robin Charlie, who spoke about how the Office of Children’s Services (OCS) assesses child safety and collaborates with tribes.

“The better tribal workers understand the state system, the more they can hold the state accountable,” Casey pointed out. “Learning the lingo and who’s responsible for what at the state equips tribal ICWA staff to advocate for the child and the family in the best way.”

The training also included a panel featuring three Alaska court system judges who answered participants’ questions.

“To hear from the judges when they’re not on the bench in a black robe really helped to show their humanity,” Casey described. “I think that helps the ICWA workers feel more comfortable in a court setting and encourages them to participate because they got to hear firsthand how the judges value their role and their input.”

Sponsored by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Human Services, Alaska Region, ANJC’s Basic ICWA Training was offered again, virtually, in May. Two additional trainings are on this year’s calendar: another virtual training August 23 – 24, and an in-person session October 12 – 13.

“The beauty of having the training in person is the ICWA staff can create those connections with each other and learn from each other,” Casey shared.

She hopes to build intermediate and advanced trainings based on the basic training. “There’s just so much to cover, and the two days go by so fast. It would be great to strengthen statewide support of tribal ICWA workers by bringing those same workers back together for more advanced trainings.”

ANJC will also host a Tribal Child Welfare Conference, September 26 – 28, in Anchorage. Tribal ICWA workers and Tribal representatives from across the state can register to attend here.

Learn more about how ANJC supports Tribes across the state through their ICWA and Tribal Justice Support programs. To sign up for future ANJC ICWA trainings, contact icwa@anjc.net.


2023 Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Conference Registration Now Open!

June 26, 2023, https://anjc.org/2023/06/2023-alaska-tribal-child-welfare-conference-registration-now-open/

Mark your calendars for the Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Workers Conference, which will take place in September 26-28 in Anchorage, Alaska. This conference is open to Tribal ICWA workers and Tribal representatives across the state. The three-day conference will focus on implementation of the ICWA in Child Need of Aid cases and enhance attendee’s knowledge of and response to allegations of child abuse and neglect.

Online registration is now open and will close early September 2023. Click here to register!

More information about the 2023 Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Conference can be found on our event page.

September 26-28, 2023
Marriott Anchorage Downtown
820 West 7th Avenue, Anchorage

 

The Marriott Anchorage Downtown is our host for the conference and on-site lodging. The discounted room rate offer has expired.

 


The Alaska Native Justice Center offices have moved

July 20, 2023, https://anjc.org/2023/07/the-alaska-native-justice-center-offices-are-moving/

The Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) has moved to a new location to best serve our clients. Effective Tuesday, August 1, ANJC is located in the Denali Towers North on the 11th floor in midtown Anchorage (2550 Denali Street).

We will be providing all of our services at our new location and CITC staff at the Nat’uh Service Center will help any clients who go to our old location.

ANJC services include:

Legal services and support for victims and survivors of violent crime

  • Safety planning, emergency support and protective orders
  • Legal consultation
  • Legal representation in family law matters

Alaska Tribes

  • ICWA representation, training, and support
  • Tribal Court and Justice System training and support

For Elders

  • Attending court hearings
  • Legal consultation

When a criminal conviction is a barrier to jobs or education

  • Legal consultation and support obtaining a variance

Community Outreach & Education

  • Divorce and custody pro se clinics are offered the first Tuesday and Wednesday every month at noon

 

Reentry services will be staying at CITC (3600 San Jeronimo Dr.) and can be reached at 907-793-3200.

 

Contact information remains the same:

(907) 793-3550
anjcinfo@anjc.net
www.anjc.org

On People Mover routes 10 and 25

 


Journey to Justice: A Law Clerk’s 10-Week Adventure at the Alaska Native Justice Center

August 15, 2023, https://anjc.org/2023/08/journey-to-justice-a-law-clerks-10-week-adventure-at-the-alaska-native-justice-center/

Alaska doesn’t have a law school. Recruiting attorneys from the Lower 48 is difficult, and finding attorneys with experience in Alaska Native law is even harder.

But the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) has a strategy to change that. With its new Native Law Clerkship and Fellowship programs, the organization is giving law students and recent law school graduates hands-on experience working in the field of Native law—and helping to create a cohort of Native legal professionals who can serve their communities across the country.

Journey to Justice: A Law Clerk’s 10-Week Adventure at the Alaska Native Justice Center

Every journey in the legal field begins with a spark of interest, fueled by unique experiences and a passion for making a difference. For Zoë Wise, enrolled Tribal member of Muscogee (Creek) Nation, a law student with a remarkable background, her 10-week law clerk internship at the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) provided an opportunity to delve into the world of Alaska Native law and solidify her aspirations for the future.

From Literature to Law: The Path of Passion

Zoë’s educational journey was a diverse one, commencing with an English degree from Western Washington University and culminating in a Master’s of Fine Arts in creative writing from University of Alaska Fairbanks. Initially, she considered pursuing a career in academia as an English professor.

However, her life took a different turn when she got a job as a paralegal at a family law firm around the time of the McGirt Decision, a federal Indian law case in which her tribe played a central role. Witnessing the impact of Tribal law in an Indigenous context sparked a fire in Zoë, igniting her passion for the legal realm and setting her on a new course.


The Journey Begins: ANJC Law Clerk Internship

Zoë’s passion for Indian law brought her back to Alaska to work as a law clerk at ANJC. During her 10-week internship, Zoë was deeply involved in legal research, primarily focusing on family law issues and the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Additionally, she had the opportunity to participate in Tribal court trainings and work closely with clients, a part of her work that she cherished the most.

One of the highlights of her internship was her involvement in the courtroom, where she accompanied clients, prepared for hearings, and helped translate the legal process into a more approachable and understandable format. This connection with clients and her love for legal writing reaffirmed her decision to pursue Indian law as her career path.

The Calling of Alaska: A Connection with Nature and Culture

Zoë’s love for Alaska runs deep. Having moved around frequently during her earlier years, she finally settled in Alaska after completing her undergraduate studies. The state’s breathtaking outdoors, encompassing activities like hiking, cross-country skiing, and foraging, captivated her soul. Moreover, the state’s rich Alaska Native culture and heritage resonated deeply with her roots, strengthening her bond with this land.

Fostering Awareness: ANJC’s Impact Beyond Internship

Beyond the legal work, ANJC provided a unique platform for cultural awareness and exchange. ANJC organized a law and culture day for law clerks across Anchorage, introducing them to Alaska Native culture, legal perspectives, and history. Many of Zoë’s peers lacked exposure to Indigenous issues as it is not a topic covered at most law schools, and the event served as an important educational opportunity, shedding light on the significance of federal Indian law and Alaska Native law.

Zoë’s 10-week stint as a law clerk at the Alaska Native Justice Center was a transformative experience that solidified her passion for Indian law and justice. It allowed her to explore her interests, understand the intricacies of Indigenous legal issues, and bridge the gap between the what she is learning in school and real-world legal practice. Her journey at ANJC paved the way for a promising future in Indian law, where she aspires to make a lasting impact and champion justice for her community. With dedication and determination, Zoë’s path to justice is undoubtedly one that will inspire and uplift others on their legal journeys.

About the ANJC Clerkship and Fellowship Programs 

ANJC’s Law Clerk and Fellowship programs encourage law students and recent law graduates to work in the field of Native law while providing opportunities to pursue a wide variety of projects. The programs contribute to the development of the Alaska Native law leaders of the future, whatever their career paths in the field might be. 

  • Law Clerk. A law student who works while in law school. Full time employment for 10-12 weeks, often in the summer. Part-time employment is also an option. The term “law clerk” is also used to describe a recent law school graduate that works for a Judge – AKA a ‘clerkship’ or ‘clerking.’  
  • Law Fellow. A recent graduate from law school that may not have yet passed a bar exam. Fellowships offer full time employment for one to two years and allow the fellow to gain valuable experience while continuing to learn. ANJC Law Fellows will be provided exposure to a variety of Alaska Native legal issues while engaging in research and writing, litigation, communication with clients, and administrative advocacy, among other kinds of work.  

For more information, please contact anjcinfo@anjc.net.


Full Circle: Former Color of Justice Participant Returns to ANJC as Law Clerk

September 5, 2023, https://anjc.org/2023/09/full-circle-former-color-of-justice-participant-returns-to-anjc-as-law-clerk/

At 14, Sam Schimmel participated in the Color of Justice, a program that strives to get young people interested in careers in the legal field. His Native corporation, CIRI, selected him for one of the program’s first cohorts of youth and brought him to Anchorage from Gambell, Alaska, to attend the two-day event.

“I grew up in a community where, if there were legal problems, people just didn’t have money to have an attorney,” he said. “In Gambell, if someone had a telephonic felony hearing, and if they had a public defender, it was an attorney with 150 cases. Representation was not ideal.”

Early Experience


Color of Justice opened his eyes. For the first time, he heard directly from attorneys about how laws and the legal system could be shaped to serve Alaska Native people.

“It was really there, at Color of Justice, that I saw how and what I wanted to do, that I wanted to go and be an attorney who could benefit our people,” Sam shared.

Fast forward seven years, and Sam has just finished a summer with the Alaska Native Justice Center’s (ANJC) Native Law Clerkship program. The opportunity, he said, put him on the “other side”—no longer just learning about areas of need within the legal system, but supporting the team that works to fill those gaps.

The clerkship gives law students hands-on experience working in the field of Native law. For 10 – 12 weeks each summer, ANJC’s law clerks assist the organization’s legal team with a variety of cases, gaining a first-hand view of how our state and federal laws affect Alaska Native people.

Committed to the Native Community

Now a student at Georgetown Law entering his second year, Sam has always been an engaged citizen.

In addition to participating in Color of Justice (which ANJC supports in partnership with the Alaska Court System), he served on the Youth Advisory Council for Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC), where he helped develop youth-focused programs. He was appointed by Alaska Governor Bill Walker to the Alaska Climate Action Leadership Team, and founded the Voices of Alaska Native Youth Community Project for the Alaska Federation of Natives Conference.

In 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sam organized Operation Fish Drop, a grass-roots initiative to ensure that Alaska Native elders and families had access to traditional foods during a time of hardship.

Law school hasn’t slowed him down.

“I’ve got a lot of other work going on outside of school,” he said. “So I wanted to be here in Anchorage, or anywhere in southcentral Alaska [this summer]. ANJC’s mission and values aligned with mine, so I decided to apply for a clerkship here to gain the experience of being part of an organization that serves our Native population.”

Sam Schimmel (center) at the 2023 White House Tribal Youth Summit.

Summer Clerkship

This summer, Sam worked with ANJC’s attorneys on “a host of different stuff,” from custody matters, to domestic violence cases, to helping clients apply for protective orders. He also worked on larger research projects meant to support the work of ANJC attorneys.

“I never thought I’d be making a timeline of someone’s drug use. But that did happen, about week four on the job,” he said. It’s practical tasks like those that shed light on the reality of working difficult cases for Sam.

“Somebody’s got to go down those rabbit holes and do the work.”

Most importantly, Sam got to be a part of the solution: He helped ANJC play its role in ensuring that Alaska Native people are fairly and adequately represented and protected within the legal system.

As summer ends, Sam will return to Georgetown Law—but he plans to return to Alaska with his law degree.

“I certainly think I’ll be coming back to Alaska and working hard to ensure that our communities have the representation that they need in order to get the stuff that they want done, done,” he said. “Just making sure that our communities have what they need to do what they want.”

About the ANJC Clerkship and Fellowship Programs
ANJC’s Law Clerk and Fellowship programs encourage law students and recent law graduates to work in the field of Native law while providing opportunities to pursue a wide variety of projects. The programs contribute to the development of the Alaska Native law leaders of the future, whatever their career paths in the field might be.

Law Clerk. A law student who works while in law school. Full time employment for 10-12 weeks, often in the summer. Part-time employment is also an option. The term “law clerk” is also used to describe a recent law school graduate that works for a Judge – AKA a ‘clerkship’ or ‘clerking.’
Law Fellow. A recent graduate from law school that may not yet have passed a bar exam. Fellowships offer full time employment for one to two years and allow the fellow to gain valuable experience while continuing to learn. ANJC Law Fellows are provided exposure to a variety of Alaska Native legal issues while engaging in research and writing, litigation, communication with clients, and administrative advocacy, among other kinds of work.

For more information, please contact anjcinfo@anjc.net.


Alaska Native Justice Center Welcomes Two Key Additions to Its Team

October 11, 2023, https://anjc.org/2023/10/alaska-native-justice-center-welcomes-two-key-additions-to-its-team/

ANJC welcomes Maude Blair as Tribal Justice Manager and Samantha Cherot as Managing Attorney

The Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) is pleased to announce the appointment of Maude Blair as Tribal Justice Manager and Samantha Cherot as Managing Attorney. These strategic hires increase the number of attorneys on staff to eight with the full team growing to thirty staff. ANJC provides integrated legal and case management services to victims and survivors of crime. ANJC also represents Alaska Tribes in state court Indian Child Welfare Act cases and partners with Alaska Tribes in supporting tribal sovereignty and self determination of tribal justice systems.

Maude Blair, Iñupiaq, joins ANJC as Tribal Justice Manager. She will coordinate all aspects of ANJC’s Tribal Justice Support program, including statewide Tribal Justice initiatives. Before joining ANJC, Blair served as the Senior Corporate Counsel for Southcentral Foundation (SCF) and worked for the Alaska Federation of Natives and NANA Development Corporation. She is also actively involved in the community, holding a board position at the Alaska Native Heritage Center, and co-chairing the Alaska Native Law Section. Born and raised in Kiana and Kotzebue, she earned her undergraduate degrees from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and her J.D. and Indian Law Certificate from Arizona State University.

Samantha Cherot, will join ANJC as Managing Attorney in October. As Managing Attorney, Samantha will play a pivotal role in ANJC’s service delivery system. She will collaborate with the Chief Operating Officer to strategize and develop service delivery processes. Samantha brings a wealth of experience in public defense and legal administration to her role. Samantha’s previous position as the Public Defender for the State of Alaska saw her oversee 13 offices throughout the state, providing representation to indigent persons in various legal matters. Born and raised in Anchorage, Samantha earned her B.S. degree in Political Science from Santa Clara University and her J.D. degree from California Western School of Law.

“We are very excited to have Maude and Samantha join our team at ANJC and join us in our mission of Justice for Alaska Native people. Their wealth of experience will support our operations and help us continue to meet the needs of the people and Alaska Tribes we serve,” shared Alex Cleghorn, Chief Operating Officer of ANJC.

The Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) is dedicated to addressing the unmet needs of Alaska Native people and others within the civil and criminal justice systems. ANJC offers services to individuals of all backgrounds and integrates culture-based advocacy programs and intervention initiatives, essential for resolving legal challenges such as divorce, child custody, domestic violence/sexual assault, human trafficking, victims of crime, and youth development.

For more information about the Alaska Native Justice Center and its vital mission, please visit www.anjc.org.

 

 


Taking a Walk “In Her Shoes”

November 2, 2023, https://anjc.org/2023/11/taking-a-walk-in-her-shoes/

ANJC’s interactive training provides staff with the lived experiences of survivors of abuse

Cards from In Her Shoes, a “Choose Your Own Adventure”-style game based on the experiences of survivors of domestic violence.

No one can find Legal Services.

“It’s over there,” pointed out one participant of the In Her Shoes training hosted by the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) on Monday, October 23.

Larissa Makar, corporate trainer for ANJC partner Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC), locates the table that represents Legal Services. She picks up a green card labeled “Tiffany” and reads a brief description. At the end of the description, Larissa is left with a choice. Depending on which option she goes for, Tiffany’s story could take a positive turn—or she could come up against yet another complication as she seeks help with getting out of a domestic violence situation.

CITC employee Larissa Makar considers her options as she plays In Her Shoes, an interactive, “Choose Your Own Adventure”-style training.

Not Just a Game

In Her Shoes feels like a game as participants follow the journey of their characters. But the situations depicted in the activity are serious: They’re based on the real-life scenarios of survivors of domestic abuse.

The activity was developed by the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence as a learning tool meant to simulate the lived experience of individuals involved in abusive relationships. Participants follow directions on a series of cards that confront them with a variety of real-life situations based on actual survivor experiences. For each scenario, they must make decisions about how to proceed.

“This is an interactive, Choose-Your-Own-Adventure domestic violence training,” described Shana Cooper, an advocacy case manager at ANJC. “Domestic violence is a heavy topic, so it can be hard to pull people into a discussion about it. In Her Shoes provides an experiential tool that can generate really thoughtful conversation on the topic.”

Deliberate Difficulties

Playing as “Janet,” ANJC Advocacy Case Manager Olivia Spiezio felt frustrated by their character’s lack of options.

ANJC and CITC employees read about the characters whose stories they will experience in the In Her Shoes training.

“I like how this activity it set up to be confusing and weird,” they said, adding that, in reality, individuals experiencing domestic violence often run into red tape and baffling bureaucracies as they struggle to find help.

“When I do this activity, I’m reminded that this is the reality of what my clients are going through,” Shana shared.

She pointed out that, in real life, even when individuals experiencing domestic violence have made the often difficult decision to reach out for support, they may face documentation or eligibility requirements, language barriers, or other obstacles that may discourage them from accessing the help they need.

“For the activity, we usually make the table with the Housing cards hard to find—because so often, housing really is a difficult resource to secure,” explained ANJC Advocacy Case Manager Eleanor Pollo, who co-facilitated the training.

Worth the Struggle

Training facilitators might also require activity participants to carry around a sack of potatoes, to drive home the feeling of having to seek services with small children in tow—since oftentimes finding childcare while living in a shelter isn’t possible. Or participants in the activity might discover that the protection order paperwork they need to fill out is in Russian, simulating the confusion some domestic violence victims feel as they navigate the legal system.

After each participant completes their journey, the trainers debrief with the group to discuss what it felt like to work through the experience. Staff in the recent training shared their frustrations at the barriers they came up against and the difficulty they found when trying to make even small steps forward, as well as feelings of helplessness, fear, and surprise at the outcome of some of the decisions they made.

“It’s really worthwhile to go through this exercise in order to experience all the difficult ramifications our people face when they’re trying to leave a violent situation,” said Jessica Burdick, a data specialist for CITC’s Family Services department, who participated in the training.

Preparing Our Direct-Services Staff

After the training, staff had an opportunity to debrief and share their experiences.

In Her Shoes is designed to represent a variety of dynamics, barriers, and identities of survivors and their relationships. A similar activity kit, In Their Shoes, walks participants through dating violence scenarios; CITC’s Strengthening Our Youth (Tribal PREP) program, which provides healthy relationship education to young people, has presented this version of the activity as part of its curriculum.

The edition of In Her Shoes used by ANJC incorporates the additional struggles of domestic violence victims who live below the poverty line. It also provides the perspective of the abusive partner in each situation. You can learn more about the In Her Shoes education tool here.

Shana and Eleanor plan to continue offering trainings for CITC and ANJC staff, with an emphasis on providing direct-service staff with this experience.

“The main thing I hope people gain from In Her Shoes is a better understanding of the barriers [CITC and ANJC program] participants face when trying to leave a domestic violence relationship,” said Shana. “Navigating social service systems is already difficult. Add in an abuser who is committing financial, physical, and/or psychological abuse, and it makes everything even more difficult.”

Individuals experiencing domestic violence can find help through ANJC’s advocacy and support services. Call (907) 793-3550 or use this contact form to reach out today.

Interested in having ANJC staff facilitate an In Her Shoes training for your organization? Reach out to Shana Cooper at shana.cooper@anjc.net.

Learn more about ANJC’s legal services at anjc.org.


Department of Justice Confirms Tribal Jurisdiction

December 7, 2023, https://anjc.org/2023/12/department-of-justice-confirms-alaska-tribes-inherent-authority-to-exercise-criminal-jurisdiction-over-all-native-people-within-their-villages/

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) recently issued a memorandum confirming that Tribes in Alaska can exercise criminal jurisdiction over all Native people within their Village. The memorandum underscores what Congress made clear in the 2022 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. The Act directly addressed jurisdiction of Tribes in Alaska and stated that “Congress recognizes and affirms the inherent authority of any Indian tribe occupying a Village in the State to exercise criminal and civil jurisdiction over all Indians present in the Village.” 25 U.S.C. § 1305(a).

DOJ’s new memorandum makes clear that Alaska Tribes’ criminal jurisdiction over Native people is concurrent (shared) with any federal or state jurisdiction. The memo provides an update to a DOJ memorandum issued in 2000, which explained that Public Law 280 did not remove the inherent authority of Tribes of their inherent criminal authority over Native people. The new memorandum reaffirms the U.S. DOJ’s position on Alaska Tribe’s jurisdiction. It highlights:

  • Alaska Tribes’ criminal jurisdiction over Native people is not affected by the fact that most Alaska Tribes lack “Indian Country.”
  • Tribes have inherent power to prosecute all Native people for violations of Tribal criminal laws. This includes citizens (members) of their Tribe, and non-citizens (non-members).
  • This power covers all criminal offenses, including misdemeanors and felonies.
  • Tribes have both criminal and civil jurisdiction over all Native people within a Village.
  • Tribes have the authority to issue and enforce civil protective orders involving all people within the Village. This applies to Native and non-Native people.
  • Public Law 280 did not take away the inherent authority of Alaska Tribes.

If your Tribe has questions or would like further information, please contact the Tribal Justice Support team at the Alaska Native Justice Center at TribalJustice@anjc.net

The memorandum is attached and can also be accessed here.


Lifting a Burden

December 12, 2023, https://anjc.org/2023/12/lifting-a-burden/

Support from ANJC helps tribal workers tackle heavy caseload

ANJC offers training and support to Tribal Indian Child Welfare Act caseworkers as part of its efforts to help fulfill the promise of ICWA to keep Alaska Native children safe and connected to our Alaska Native cultures.

Lately, Gertrude Peter and Andrew Steven have seen an uptick in Child in Need of Aid (CINA) cases. Between the two of them, Gertrude and Andrew regularly handled roughly 70 to 80 CINA cases this fall; their calendars can often be booked with back-to-back hearings. And, until recently, they were on their own.

“It can become hectic at times, but with the Alaska Native Justice Center’s (ANJC) help, we can do it,” said Gertrude, who serves as the director of Orutsararmiut Native Council Social Services.

The council started working with ANJC’s Tribal Justice Support team in 2019. ANJC partners with Alaska Tribes to support tribal sovereignty and justice. The organization also represents and advises Alaska Tribes in State CINA cases where the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) applies.

While Orutsararmiut Native Council mainly serves Bethel, Gertrude and Andrew (an ICWA advocate) also work with cases in Anchorage, Palmer, Fairbanks, and other locations. It’s a heavy workload for two people. Having ANJC’s support allows the Bethel team to focus on local cases, while ANJC helps with cases in the further flung settings.

This September, Gertrude Peter and Andrew Steven attended the first-ever Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Workers Conference presented by ANJC–an opportunity for Tribal caseworkers to enhance their knowledge of and response to allegations of child abuse and neglect.

This fall, ANJC and the Orutsararmiut ICWA caseworkers partnered to find a family placement for some children whose father had died, and whose mother was struggling with addiction.

“We had an emergency Team Decision Making meeting, and we were quick to get the paperwork together and to ANJC,” Gertrude described. “ANJC worked fast to find out when the court hearings would be, who the judge would be, so we could get up to speed. Working with ANJC just made everything flow together more easily.”

Together, ANJC, Gertrude, and Andrew are working to place the children with their grandmother and uncle.

Every two weeks, Gertrude and Andrew meet with ANJC staff to share updates on active cases. In addition to regular meetings, Andy and Gertrude have attended trainings and the recent Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Workers Conference.

“I was so happy about ANJC serving Orutsararmiut because motions can take so much time—gathering information, reviewing petitions. It’s really time-consuming,” Gertrude described. “I was relieved that ANJC could cover cases in the Valley, Anchorage, and the Kenai area. It let us focus on the cases from here in Bethel. It’s like a burden was lifted.”

You can learn more about ANJC’s tribal ICWA representation services and support for Tribes online. To connect with our Tribal Justice Support team, email tribaljustice@anjc.net.


Alaska Court System Streamlines Sentencing Recommendation Process for Tribes

December 13, 2023, https://anjc.org/2023/12/alaska-court-system-streamlines-sentencing-recommendation-process-for-tribes/

Tribes can make culturally appropriate sentencing recommendations for members of their community with criminal cases in state court resulting in convictions. Alaska Criminal Rule 11(i) and Delinquency Rule 23(f) encourage the use of restorative justice practices in state court proceedings. A tribe’s restorative justice process can be a sentencing circle, or another process of the Tribe’s choosing. In 2023, the presiding judges issued a statewide order which clarifies the restorative justice process. It is open to any Alaska Tribe and does not require a Rule 11 agreement. The restorative justice process requires the consent of the defendant, the prosecutor, and victim.

The restorative justice steps are provided in the order (Statewide Restorative Justice Procedures) issued by the presiding judges and outlined here:

  1. Tribes can monitor cases involving their community members using CourtView or reviewing the list of criminal cases filed in the previous seven days.
  2. When a tribe identifies a potential case for restorative justice, it can request a copy of the case documents from the court using ACS form CR‐805. The court will not charge a fee for providing the documents (complaints, citations, and indictments).
  3. When the Tribe decides to request a referral of a case for the restorative justice process, it notifies the court no later than the date of the final pretrial conference using ACS form CR‐810.
  4. Post plea or a finding of guilt after trial, the judge may refer the case to the The order for referral must set the state court sentencing date at least 60 days after the plea or finding of guilt after trial.
  5. The Tribe provides notice of the time and place of the restorative justice process using ACS form CR‐820. The restorative justice process must occur within 45 days of the referral.
  6. Once the restorative justice process is concluded, the Tribe provides the state court with written sentencing recommendations using ACS form CR‐825. The recommendations must be submitted at least 7 days before the sentencing hearing following a trial, or 5 days before a sentencing hearing following a plea
  7.  The court will consider the recommendations submitted by the Tribe when sentencing the defendant.

If your Tribe has questions or would like further information, please contact the Tribal Justice Support team at the Alaska Native Justice Center at TribalJustice@anjc.net.


Advocating for Himself and Others

December 21, 2023, https://anjc.org/2023/12/advocating-for-himself-and-others/

ANJC clerkship provides real-world experience for law student

ANJC Law Clerk Geoffrey Bacon

Geoff Bacon never just wanted to be a lawyer. He wanted to be a good lawyer.

A Tribal citizen of the Native Village of Tanana and born and raised in Fairbanks, Geoff was employed for several years in human resources, including in Tribal health. The in-house attorneys he worked alongside inspired him to pursue a “second career” as a lawyer.

“One thing that stuck with me was a Native lawyer who said, ‘Indian country needs more Native lawyers—but we need good Native lawyers,’” Geoff shared. “A bad lawyer makes a bad case, which sets a bad precedent for every Tribe in the country. Part of what drives me is that when I say something or do something for a client, it needs to be thoughtful and researched because credibility is everything.”

This past January, Geoff became the first law student to work as an ANJC law clerk during an academic semester. Typically, law clerks at ANJC work for 10 – 12 weeks in the summer, assisting the organization’s staff attorneys and gaining real-world experiences with cases involving survivors of domestic violence and tribes participating in Indian Child Welfare Act cases.

Geoff, who was attending the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, wanted to find a way to come back to Alaska and serve his people. He sought out ANJC Chief Operating Officer Alex Cleghorn to work for ANJC during an Away Field Placement, which allows Berkeley law students to expand their education beyond school by doing legal work supervised by an attorney while also earning academic credit.

ANJC Law Clerk Geoff Bacon was the featured speaker at the annual ANJC Voices for Justice fundraiser.

“Law students like rules, but it’s also important to push beyond rules, and just ask,” Geoff reflected. “I encourage others to ask, if you can; advocate for your career and for opportunities to become a better lawyer. If you want those opportunities, push for them—for yourself, and for others.”

During his clerkship, Geoff got to work with ANJC’s staff of experienced attorneys, including Chad Holt, Joshua Ahsoak, and ANJC Chief Operating Officer Alex Cleghorn.

During an ANJC clerkship, law students can pursue a wide variety of projects while gaining practical knowledge about laws that impact Tribes. Geoff worked with ANJC’s Tribal Support team to assist Tribes with implementing and operating their Tribal courts.

He also had the opportunity to represent an ANJC client on a case in state court. Under Alaska Bar Association rules, which allow for law students to appear in court under the supervision of a licensed attorney—in this case, ANJC Staff Attorney Charlie Kidd—Geoff helped prepare his client for a hearing, ensuring they felt supported and confident as they confronted an abuser and testified in court.

“Nothing in law school prepares you for that direct client work,” he said.

Now that Geoff has graduated law school and been admitted to the Alaska Bar, he is currently working as a judicial law clerk at the Alaska Supreme Court. In this role, he reviews the record of what happened at trials on appeal from Superior and District courts. Although he’s only looking at words on paper, thanks to his time with ANJC, he understands the weight behind those words.

“Without that experience, I wouldn’t have had that exposure to the emotional charge that happens in a courtroom,” he said. “When people testify—when you’re reading that testimony on a transcript—there’s so much more there than what’s in the words. My ANJC work helped me apply empathy when reading the record and reinforced the important role advocates play to achieve a good decision for the case.”

Are you a law student looking for an opportunity to gain real-world experience? We offer clerkships for current law students and fellowships for recent law school graduates who may not yet have passed the bar. For more information, visit our Law Clerk and Fellow Programs page.

Geoff shared about his experience as an ANJC law clerk at the Voices for Justice fundraiser in November.

Adult and Youth Reentry and Restorative Justice Programs have moved to CITC

January 8, 2024, https://anjc.org/2024/01/adult-and-youth-reentry-and-restorative-justice-programs-have-moved-to-citc/

For clients looking for more information on reentry or restorative justice programs, those have moved under CITC management, effective Oct. 1, 2023. This change was made to best support our clients and align with programming and services offered at CITC, and to provide consistent participant support.

The relocation of reentry services provides wraparound services to program participants through a single intake process.

More information about Youth and Adult Reentry programs and contact information is provided below:

Adult Reentry

Who is eligible: Adults who have been released from prison or are getting ready to be released.
Service area: Statewide

CITC provides services and tools to those returning to the community after incarceration in order to successfully rebuild their lives. We work in collaboration with the Department of Corrections, Community Residential Centers, Substance Use Disorder Centers, reentry service providers, and other stakeholders.

Participants gain support through comprehensive case management, peer-driven support groups, behavioral cognitive therapy, and additional resources for housing, employment, education, substance abuse, behavioral health, and medical health care.

Services

We provide help navigating systems, intense case management, and referrals to services, including:

  • Financial support
  • Cultural activities
  • Community volunteer work
  • Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) support groups
  • Assistance with the variance process in order to access education or employment
  • Referrals to services:
    • Housing
    • Health care
    • Educational/training
    • Behavioral health care
    • Recovery services for substance misuse
    • Employment
    • Legal service providers

 

Youth Reentry

Who is eligible: Youth ages 14-22
Service area: Statewide
Contact: youthreentry@citci.org, (907) 793-3458

CITC’s Youth Reentry services assist youth 14-22 years of age who are being or have been recently released from area youth detention facilities. With services in Anchorage, Mat-Su, Juneau, Fairbanks, Bethel, and Kenai, we provide support for youth in transition into adulthood by developing self-awareness, maintaining motivation, and modeling healthy relationships. Our Youth Advocates offer case management for adolescents in need of educational, workforce development, employment, social-emotional awareness, and cultural support.

Services

We provide help navigating systems, intensive case management, and referrals to services.

  • Academic assistance/mentoring
  • Cultural activities
  • Support groups
  • Referrals to services for youth and families
    • Housing
    • Health care
    • Behavioral health care
    • Recovery services for substance misuse
    • Employment
    • Legal service providers

 


ICWA Introductory Training for Tribes in Alaska

February 22, 2024, https://anjc.org/2024/02/icwa-introductory-training-for-tribes-in-alaska/

Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) is offering a comprehensive introductory training on the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) multiple times this year, and registration is now open. This two-day training covers various crucial aspects of ICWA, including its historical context, the ongoing necessity of its provisions, the Child in Need of Aid (CINA) state court process, active efforts, placement preferences, intervention strategies, qualified expert witnesses, transfer of jurisdiction, and the exercise of Tribal sovereignty.

The training sessions will be held four times throughout 2024. Three of these sessions will be conducted in person at Denali Tower North (2550 Denali Street, 16th Floor, Anchorage, Alaska 99503), while one session will be held virtually. The timings for all sessions are from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the following dates:

  • April 24-25, 2024: in person
  • August 14-15, 2024: in person
  • October 10-11, 2024: virtual
  • November 7-8, 2024: in person

If you are employed by a Tribe or Tribal Organization, or if you serve in an official capacity for a Tribe, and you are interested in attending any of these training sessions, please visit the registration link at https://forms.gle/FTZn7ZNCKXbf2r2S7.

For further inquiries or information, please contact ANJC at (907) 793-3550 or via email at icwa@anjc.net.


Sitka Students See Themselves in Legal Careers, Thanks to Color of Justice Conference

February 27, 2024, https://anjc.org/2024/02/sitka-students-see-themselves-in-legal-careers-thanks-to-color-of-justice-conference/
In November 2023, 86 Mount Edgecumbe High School students participated in Color of Justice, a two-day conference sponsored in part by ANJC that lets teens experience what it’s like to be a lawyer, judge, or other legal professional.

Last November, 86 Mount Edgecumbe High School (MEHS) students became lawyers, judges, and jurors for a single afternoon as they decided the fate of fictional defendants. The mock trial—which provided the students a glimpse at what it’s like to work in the field of law—was part of the Color of Justice youth conference, held in-person in Sitka for the first time since 2019.

Started by the National Association of Women Judges in 2001, Color of Justice is a two-day event designed for high school juniors and seniors to learn and experience what a career in the legal field could look like for them. The program particularly encourages participation among women and people of color, populations traditionally underrepresented in the legal field.

This year’s cohort of students enjoyed a packed agenda, including activities like the mock trial, “Constitutional Cranium,” a Tribal justice quest, and “You Be the Judge,” where players debated and decided the outcomes of real cases. Through a speed-mentoring session and presentations from Alaska Native lawyers and law schools, the students spent time with legal professionals like Bobbie Allen, a Fairbanks Superior Court law clerk, and Peter Boskofsky, Koniag general counsel, both MEHS graduates who talked about their journeys from Sitka to law school and beyond.

Color of Justice is held twice a year, in April and November, alternately in Sitka and Anchorage.

Supreme Court Justice Jude Pate, who hails originally from Sitka, returned to the community to bring incredible energy and support to the event. He reminded participating MEHS students that “this is their court” and shared that his dream is for an MEHS graduate to replace him when he retires from his position.

One goal of the program is to increase the number of Alaska Native lawyers and judges. Color of Justice alumni, including Magistrate Judge Pam Smith, participated as adult mentors at the event. Smith, an Alaska Native magistrate judge for the Nome District Court, shared how attending Color of Justice as a teen inspired her to become a lawyer. Kawerak Staff Attorney Sigvanna Tapqaq also supported students throughout the event and mentored student judges during the mock trial.

Additional thanks for supporting and hosting Color of Justice goes to: University of Washington School of Law; the Alaska Federation of Natives; Gonzaga University School of Law; the National Association of Women Judges; the Alaska Court System; the Alaska Native Justice Center; RurAL CAP; the Sitka Tribe of Alaska; Seattle University School of Law; and MEHS.

The next Color of Justice event will take place in Anchorage, in April of this year.


Alaska Intertribal Technical Assistance Working Group

April 15, 2024, https://anjc.org/2024/04/alaska-intertribal-technical-assistance-working-group/

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2022 (VAWA 2022) introduced the Alaska Pilot Program, which will enable Alaska Tribes to criminally prosecute non-Indians for specific crimes committed in their Villages. The primary purpose of the Alaska Intertribal Technical Assistance Working Group (AK ITWG) is to bring together Alaska Tribes to collectively work toward enhancing safety and justice in Tribal communities with a particular emphasis on considering and preparing for the exercise of Special Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction (STCJ).

REGISTER for the Alaska Intertribal Technical Assistance Working Group on Special Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction

Alaska Inter-Tribal Working Group on Special Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction May 9-10 Chief David Salman Hall Fairbanks, AK

This project was supported by Grant No. 15JOVW-23-GK-05462-MUMU awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Deep-dive into Native Law

April 17, 2024, https://anjc.org/2024/04/deep-dive-into-native-law/

ANJC’s Law Fellowship presents opportunity to explore a specialized field of law

ANJC Law Fellow Lily Cohen

Alaska is a unique place—especially when it comes to the law. While the state doesn’t yet have its own law school, it is home to a complex system of sovereign tribal courts and state courts that must work together within the bounds of overlapping federal, state, and tribal jurisdiction.

It’s the perfect place for law students and new lawyers to grow their knowledge and ability. This year, as ANJC’s law fellow, Lily Cohen gained experience with a field of law not widely available outside of Alaska.

“I’ve had really fantastic opportunities to learn from people who have really deep expertise in these areas that aren’t covered fully in law school,” said Lily, who attended law school on the East coast. “I took one federal Indian law class and [did a] reading group on constitutional law and colonialism, but the options were somewhat limited.”

ANJC’s Law Fellowship program offers law school graduates like Lily an opportunity to learn on the job in a full-time position. ANJC Fellows are provided exposure to a variety of Alaska Native legal issues while engaging in research and writing, litigation, representing clients, and advocacy, among other kinds of work.

Lily’s fellowship has provided ample opportunities to work with ANJC clients, as she fields calls with individuals seeking justice services. “I do a lot of translating legal information into more digestible terms—explaining why a program is helpful or useful, or what a certain statute means.”

She has also represented a client who was a survivor of domestic violence and is working on an appeal before the Alaska Supreme Court that challenges the state court’s recognition of a tribal court order. She also had the opportunity to accompany other ANJC staff to trainings in Bethel and Kotzebue, where she worked with tribal court judges and clerks on court codes.

Originally from Connecticut, Lily came to law as a second career. Previously, she was employed at the University of Alaska Fairbanks doing fieldwork that studied snow and permafrost. While she loved that work, her curiosity was piqued as she learned more about the overlap between environmental harms and harms to people.

Lily Cohen, from Connecticut, is using her time as a law fellow at ANJC to learn more about Alaska Native law.

While in law school, she worked on a project looking at how environmental law could be used to address some of the interpersonal harms that happen related to the extraction of resources from the earth and water.

“I focused on how that impacts Native communities, because a lot of the case study for that [project] is the oil fields in North Dakota,” Lily said.

In addition to her study of environmental law, she became interested in restorative justice—which eventually led her to apply for the year-long ANJC fellowship.

“I think the fellowship is a really great option for someone who’s interested in tribal justice,” Lily shared.

For more information on ANJC’s Law Fellowship and Law Clerk programs, visit our website. The application period for new clerks and fellows opens each October.


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