Craig Fleener, a wildlife biologist and Native leader from Fort Yukon, was named Friday to the vacant seat on the state Board of Game by Gov. Sarah Palin.
Fleener, a Vuntut Gwich'in, is a former director of the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments and has served on his region's federal subsistence regional advisory council. He holds a bachelor of science degree in natural resource management from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and is a director of the Gwich'in Council International.
He has also served in the military for more than 21 years and is currently an intelligence officer in the Alaska Air National Guard.
Palin filled three board vacancies last week, but drew criticism from Native leaders and others because those appointments left no Natives or residents of rural Alaska on the board. The governor defended her choices, saying they were "color-blind."
One of Palin's appointees, former Alaska Outdoor Council president Teresa Sager-Albaugh, withdrew her name Wednesday, citing the controversy.
That left an opening for Fleener, who had been one of three Native names recommended by the Alaska Federation of Natives before Palin's first appointments.
The Board of Game sets hunting and trapping regulations statewide. Those decisions are keenly felt by Natives and non-Natives who rely on subsistence for food in rural Alaska.