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Compacting Education Information and Resources

At First Alaskans Institute, we operate with the understanding that Alaska Natives know what is best for Alaska Natives, and what is good for Alaska Natives is good for all Alaskans. We also understand that Alaska always has been and always will be a Native place. We know that when our Communities are in charge of determining their future, everyone is better off. It is therefore critical we work together as a state to amplify the self-determination of our Alaska Native Tribes and communities. One tool available to the State of Alaska and the Federal government is the process of compacting with Tribes.

We have created this page to serve as an educational resource for our Alaska community to educate themselves on the process of compacting and deepen their knowledge on the topic. Since this work involves everyone, we must all do the work of understanding what this process is and isn’t about.

What is a compact?

A compact is a government-government agreement that outlines the authority, accountability, and fiscal responsibility of each party to carry out agreed-upon services for pre-determined beneficiaries. In our case, it is an agreement between Tribes and another governing body (the State of Alaska or the United States federal government) to place the administration and implementation of services in the hands of Tribes. A process for federal compacting was outlined and provided for through Title V of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) passed in 1975, also known as Public Law 93-638. An additional title, Title 1, also allows for other forms of contracting. Title V allows for Tribal administration of programs formerly administered by the Indian Health Service (IHS). Under Title V, “a Tribe may redesign or consolidate programs, services, functions and activities or portions thereof, and reallocate or redirect funding without IHS approval in accordance with the ISDEAA. Under ISDEAA, the compacting process is specifically for health services, but in reality, compacting can take place between Tribes and government on any issue. 


An example of an existing compact is the Alaska Tribal Health Compact between certain Alaska Native Tribes and the United States. The compact outlines the scope of authority, accountability and fiscal responsibility between the Indian Health Service and 26 Non-profit Tribal Health Entities to carry out health services for Native beneficiaries. This means that instead of the Indian Health Service providing health services for our Tribes in Alaska, the United States has entered into a legal partnership with our Tribes and Tribally delegated Tribal organizations and non-profits, to perform the service ourselves, thereby amplifying our sovereignty and ability to determine what is best for our people. This compact has been in place since October 1, 1994 and continue to be strengthened and amended through an annual negotiation process.

A much newer compact is the historic Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Compact between certain Alaska Natives Tribes and Tribal organizations and the State of Alaska that was passed in December 15, 2017 and signed at the 2017 Alaska Federation of Natives Convention. This compact is the first of its kind between Alaska Native tribes and the State of Alaska. The compact “establishes a framework for Tribes to provide child welfare services on behalf of the state and recognizes Tribes’ inherent sovereign authority to serve their citizens as they have since time immemorial.” It outlines the services to be carried by Tribes and tribal organizations.


This webpage is meant to serve as a hub of information regarding compacting, what it entails and what examples are already in place.

It is not meant to be a comprehensive listing of all information, however, so if you see anything that should be included on this page, please email it to us at [email protected]. Quyanaq!