Metlakatla votes to change time zones - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, October 20, 2019
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Metlakatla votes to change time zones

FOR NOW, IT’S IN A TIME WARP

Metlakatla quietly went on Alaska Standard Time last month.

Until January 20 at 2 am, it was the one place in Southeast Alaska that remained on Pacific standard time, out of sync with the rest of the State, which has clocks that fluctuate between winter time — Alaska Standard Time, and summer time — Alaska Daylight Time

Late last year, the Metlakatla Indian Community of 1,460 people voted to align with the rest of the state, starting in November, 2019.

Then, the community sprang forward another decision — to move up the date when the clocks would change to Jan. 20, 2019. That means it is on Daylight Savings Time more than a month before the rest of the state.

When the rest of Southeast Alaska shifts its clocks forward by one hour to enter Daylight Savings Time on March 10, Metlakatla will already be there, and its residents won’t endure the sleepyheaded mornings that others suffer through when they change their clocks each spring. The next time it will change clocks is on Nov. 3, when most of the nation, including Alaska, sets clocks back an hour.

The state is wide enough to encompass four times zones, and actually had four until 1983, when they were merged into one main time zone, and one fragment time zone for the far Aleutian Islands, which are in the same time zone as Hawaii. Back then, the Annette Island Native community decided to to remain on its own time, and shared Pacific Time Zone with much of the West until last month. As land in trust with the U.S. government, it was entitled to do so.

As the years marched on, the management of a village-centric time zone has become more problematic. Ketchikan, where Metlakatlans travel regularly, is just 20 miles away and maintains the same time as the majority of inhabited Alaska.

Metlakatla boat harbor.

HISTORY OF BOLD SETTLEMENT

Metlakatla is a Tsimshian settlement that arrived from British Columbia in the late 19th century with a missionary who had gotten into a doctrinal dispute with British Columbia church authorities and led his flock north to resettle. The United States government gave the Tsimshian colonists title to Annette Island, and eventually made it into a reservation.

In the 1970s, the reservation members opted out of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, which was to extinguish reservations in Alaska. Metlakatla, with 132,000 acres of land and sea, has been considered a fortress of tribal sovereignty where most of its inhabitants achieve their status as tribe members through their families.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comment

  • Annette Island is a reserve I believe. It was not “given” to the people but rented for a dollar every 100 years.

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