It's been a bit discouraging to NOT hear a lot of Native leader voices in public (I'm hearing many in private) about Palin's visit to Western Alaska recently. I've been wondering if that's because they are not speaking up, or because they are not being asked. Maybe both?
But the new Anchorage Daily News rural blog, "The Village" had a few bits from two Native leaders, Myron Naneng, the president of the Association of Village Council Presidents, and Brad Garness, Alaska Inter-Tribal Council director. It was in a post about the Citgo fuel program for the villages. I'm glad to see at least two Native leaders speaking out about this publicly (and encourage MORE Native leaders who have strong, well-reasoned opinions who ARE talking behind closed doors to open those doors up.)
There also followed a big response from the governor's office that ADN reporter Kyle Hopkins asked. The governor's response begins:
The Palin administration acted before a crisis manifested itself in Western Alaska, is acting during this difficult winter and is laying the groundwork for improving conditions in the future.
It was hard to read on when it was all a defensive, big lie right from the start. But it does go on and on.
The "acted before" refers to the $1200 check Alaskans got last year. Despite the fact that MANY people said $1200 was not going to do much if the problem itself wasn't taken care of, and quickly (and how many "we-told-you-sos" could have been commissioned since then?
The biggest frustration is that there is still nothing about the BIG CORE PROBLEMS. The idea of fisheries problems is dimissed completely. Half of the people they are trying to get "fisheries jobs" HAD fisheries jobs! Because of laws, restrictions, etc. they can't make a living doing that! The fisheries problem was not some natural disaster - it is a problem that could be addressed by lawmakers. What's more, it's also not news that it's a problem. Fisherman have been part of the David and Goliath battle for decades now (and guess who's David?)
Regardless of the politics, regardless of the governor, regardless of the current national situation - it is frustrating on a very personal level to see more efforts going towards band-aids on the symptoms, not the cause. Even more frustrating for many of the "solutions" to be catalysts for further community devastation.
The causes are complex, detailed, and you may have to get your hands dirty to make a difference, but it would not be so frustrating if I didn't believe it was possiible to turn around.
In other rural Alaska news:
I don't know what I was paying attention to during this thing, but apparently I missed this whole exchange. The Alaska Dispatch posted the new Palin rural affairs advisor's response to Nick Tucker's letter on March 6 (I'm WAY behind on this...)
There was also a bit of a fluff piece from Indian Country Today about Palin's rural advisor (John Muller) which doesn't offer much of substance - more a job announcement really, and only gets a bit down to actually examining the record on the last few paragraphs. It was mostly taken from the Anchorage Daily News article in February... a little strange.