Saturday, August 30, 2008

Palin - Alaska Native issues

As the madness ensues, with the bizarre pick of Palin by McCain, we spent our last full day in Denver trying to be tourists - trying to take a mini-break from the political zoo this has become. It didn't work so well - pretty much everyone that found out we were from Alaska had questions about just who this "Sarah Palin woman" was: "Who is she? Is she any good?"

Up until yesterday, I was not too pleased to discover what Alaskan's were politically known for in the Lower 48 - the Ted Steven's indictment. I had thought it would be ANWR - but no. It's Ted.

Until yesterday, of course. When McCain chose Palin, all of a sudden we found ourselves answering the question, "Who is she and what has she done?" over and over.

Unfortunately, the TV news crews were scrambling, and in the meantime just shot off whatever they could find out (I swear they were using Wikipedia or something.) Own the Sidewalk commented on an earlier post: " media report I've seen since the VP news broke has been able to sum it up without error or significant omission of fact."

No kidding. I wanted to tear my hair out just listening to all these things that really, I don't know where they're pulling from. Even a Palin supporter I talked to in Alaska was wondering why on Earth they just seemed to make up facts as they went along.

One of the more frustrating for me as an Alaska Native woman is how much is coming out now about Todd Palin's Alaska Native heritage. Not that it is mentioned that he is a quarter Alaska Native (and that her children are an eighth.) But that it is being used as if this means Todd and Sarah will, by default, be supportive of any Alaska Native/American Indian issues.

No way.

Grassroots Science sent me a whole slew of media reports mentioning, or even playing up, his "native Eskimo" heritage.

Let me try and make a comparison about why it is so frustrating to have this mentioned in the media - when I am so proud of Alaska Native people and want to see our causes forwarded:

I am proud to be voting for and supporting the first Black/Mixed race President. But I am not voting for him because he's black. I'm voting for his ideas, his plans, his experience, his obvious desire and will to change America for the better. "Any black man" will not do. He's the man for the job, and it's a bonus that he will also be breaking the racial "glass ceiling." But he's done plenty for black America, from legistlation on racial profiling to his work in Chicago - he was a civil rights lawyer!

But this is the kind of stuff that concerns me about the Todd Palin mentions (from the Baltimore Chronicle):

Married to a native Eskimo, and with four mixed-race children, she can
expect to appeal to many non-white American voters, on whose support the Obama campaign is counting.

I cannot stress enough - Sarah Palin has done nothing for the Alaska Native community - a community that includes her own children.

Any venture into the Alaska Native community has been superficial at best. I can't even take issue with her Alaska Native policies, because she has NOTHING of substance. She has ignored Alaska Native people from before she took office as governor - an act all the more harmful because it is her own children's heritage she is not acknowledging.

The only thing I know she's "done" for Alaska Native people - fire them. Or not hire them in the first place. The more recent one is Walt Monegan. I absolutely don't believe she fired him because he was Native - I believe she fired him because he wouldn't fire her ex-brother in law- despite the investigation that had already been done on him, with findings and reprimand.

The most troubling part of all of that was, here was a man who was finally doing something about the horrible rates of violence and abuse in Rural Alaska - and for Alaska Native people. He was passionate about these issues. So she fires him. To "go in a new direction." The problem was, she hired a guy to replace Monegan who had been reprimanded for sexual harrassment. And she never could explain what that "new direction" was.

I don't know what Sarah Palin's views on Alaska Native issues are, mostly because she hasn't said what they are. She's skated by without addressing those issues so far. But before she fires any more staffers for personal reasons, she needs to remember we're here, and that these firings can affect Native people in a big way.

Correction: Grassroots Science pointed out that Todd Palin is Yup'ik and not Inupiaq, which I previously reported - or rather, re-reported from what other media were saying (should have known better.) I only knew that he was a BBNC shareholder - which is in Yup'ik country, so I really should have known!


salvador dali parton said...

thanks for the informative post.

the more i read about palin, the more creeped i get.

hammer907 said...

I guess the energy rebate of 1200$ this year was nothing to you either.

Sarah Rose said...

Dear Hammer907
the "energy rebate" if you want to call it that is a nice thing and as an alaskan, I am not going to refuse the money, but really? can we say this fixes the energy crisis in any way? it is what it is, a relief, a rebate of money we've already paid twice over. It is a bandaid, it will boost Alaskan ecomony for a minute and two, and placade angry alaskans who pay way too much for gas for more than a minute if she's lucky. so yes, its a nice thing to have I won't deny it, but it doesn't make me think ...oh this person will be the perfect VP and possibly the next President.

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