Friday, March 13, 2009

Murkowksi on Indian Affairs Committee

Indian Country Today interviewed Sen. Lisa Murkowski about giving up the Senate Indian Affairs Committee for the Energy and Natural Resources Committee (and no Alaskan will need any explanation as to why THAT particular committee would be a prize for any Alaskan lawmaker.)

Now, as much as I really don't want to like this senator, I've got to say her activities regarding Native people, especially Alaska Native people, have been pretty interesting. Interesting in a good way.

I don't know that I'll ever get over the way she got her job (I'm going to have my dad appoint me as his replacement when he quits just to see if it works, too) but she actually has been PROactive in the Native arena. There are some places I wish she'd focus more, and certainly in issues NON-Native related I have much bigger problems with her. But in this particular area, I will give a grudging "B-" on the Writing Raven politician report card.

It's answers like the one below that make me wonder - it's a very politician answer, yet a politician who can "speak" Native policy will always make me take another look.

ICT: Do you worry at all that Alaska Natives will receive less attention as a result of your move?

Murkowski: I don’t believe that the interests of Alaska Natives will be diminished as a result of my decision to accept the ranking role on the energy committee. The Alaska Native community is a leader in self-determination and self governance. They share common interests with tribes around the country that contract and compact Indian programs.

You see, though the premise of the question is that Native people will suffer without her on the committee, she turns it around to say Alaska Native people are good at taking care of themselves, thank you very much.

Okay, the politic-y part of that is OF COURSE Alaska Native people will be politically better off if one of their elected officials is on the senate committee that addresses their issues directly. OF COURSE their will be some negative effect of not having that voice. But still, thanks for the thought.

CORRECTION: Don't know how I missed it, but Murkowski is still on the committee, just not the vice-chair. I'm hoping for some very good outcomes...


Mark said...

Good Morning from Bethel-
Lisa Murkowski only stepped down as Vice-Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, she is still a member.
Here's a snip from the ICT story:

"So, it was with some trepidation that some Natives received the news in January that she was stepping down as vice chair of the committee, although she would continue as a member. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., has since replaced her, and it’s no secret that his record with Native issues has not been viewed as favorably as Murkowski’s."

Indian Country Today recently interviewed the senator regarding her decision to leave the leadership of SCIA and its implications.

Indian Country Today: Why did you choose to give up your leadership position?
Sen. Lisa Murkowski: I have enjoyed my service as vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and would have been content to remain in this role if the rules permitted me to serve as ranking member of two committees. [She has gone on to serve as ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and has become a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee].

Although I will no longer serve as vice chair, I will continue to be an active member of the committee. In fact, I’ve doubled the number of staff in my personal office who focus on American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian issues.

ICT: Can you give more details?
Murkowski: Megan Alvanna-Stimpfle, King Island Inupiaq, has moved to my personal office after serving as a professional staff member on the committee and Nathan Bergerbest, former general counsel of Doyon, Limited, the regional Native Corporation for Interior Alaska, who has staffed me on these issues for the past six years will continue his work on Native issues.

I’m also interested in revitalizing the Senate Native American Caucus, which has been inactive for some time. We need to have a venue to bring together senators who are interested in advancing Native issues, but do not serve on the committee."

Great blog :)
Mark Springer

Writing Raven said...


How did I miss that?

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