Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Boring election, exciting times for Native politics

So the municipal election was pretty yawn-worthy - and pretty much what everyone thought would happen did happen. Sullivan vs. Croft in a runoff. Anchorage-ites determined they don't want to spend a dime on anything except fire safety (and possibly public transit.) Even after attending a candidate forum, I could only eliminate candidates, not get excited about them. Would you believe I was more invested in the school board elections?

But there are some interesting bits of Native political news, big and small.

U.S. Supreme Court rules against Native Hawaiian's land claims

I don't think this shocked anyone, this is sort of history as usual, but some important notes to "bring it home."

1. I would love for Palin's AG pick to reassess his view that OUR Native land claims (ANCSA) had no benefit for Native or non-Native Alaskans. The struggle to get land claims settled in Hawaii and the Lower 48 is a good example of just what benefits both Alaskan parties continue to receive from this.

2. The supreme court ruling that the official apology by Hawaii for their actions had no standing in this case SHOULD open the doors for official apologies from many other entities. Without fear of legal ramifications, it could pry out some official apologies.

Native people in Alaskan political news

Joe Nelson

Palin's second pick for the open dem seat in Juneau, after her first pick got soundly rejected. From all accounts, Nelson's a good guy - who is not involved in the general democratic political scene. Meaning... no experience. I mean NO experience. He's a board member of Sealaska and Sealaska Heritage Institute - the Southeast Alaska Native regional for-profit corp and nonprofit corp, works at the U of A Southeast - as well as being a Tlingit (Alaska Native) man and husband of former representative Mary Nelson.

Board membership and a good job is one thing - but why is Palin selecting someone who has never voluntarily run for anything except board membership? If he really wanted to be in office... why hasn't he ever tried to do so? I'll lob my views from the side here - I think it's the people of Juneau, the ones he'll be representing, that should have the bigger voice on this. But I do find it all very strange.

Jeannie Mackie

An Athabascan (?) self-described stay-at-home-home mom married to former Senate Majority Leader Jerry Mackie. She was chosen to fill the school board vacancy and this is her first time running for anything. There is "less than a percentage point" separating her and Mia Costello as of midnight. I've heard it said that she part of why she wants to run is to help the Native student situation out in Anchorage, but can't find material/news bits about that either on her site or in the news.

James Labelle

Here's a guy I'm hoping will keep it up. The seat will go to Kathleen Plunkett, but Labelle got a pretty respectable 17-18% for a first run at something. Young guy, and son of Jim Labelle, a big ANCSA name. He comes from a pretty political family, not to mention a family I respect quite a bit, so I hope he'll step out and define himself really well, and keep at it.

Walt Monegan

His name was famous as the top cop who got the boot from Palin in the whole "Troopergate" issue, though it looks pretty definite he's not going to be mayor this time around. He's a guy who could really make a difference, and was trying to do just that, for rural Alaska and Native issues. He was already working on it when he got the axe. He's lived both rural and urban, is of mixed-Native heritage (Tlingit and I THINK Yup'ik... but don't quote me on the Yup'ik) and a decent, smart man. This was his first run for elected office, and I'm hoping he's really going to find his niche in the world soon. We could use him.

And in case you missed it...

The Alaska Federation of Natives,
Association of Village Council Presidents and
the Alaska Native Brotherhood/Alaska Native Sisterhood Grand Camp #70 (Glacier Valley - Juneau)

These are three Native organizations that have voted to oppose Sarah Palin's attorney general pick, Wayne Anthony Ross. Check out my previous posts for details. Suffice it to say that they are my organizational heroes right now. And please let me know if you see any other organizations - Native or non-Native - taking a stand on this issue!

In all - and I feel as if I'm repeating myself here - this can be a really exciting time for Alaska Native politics.


Chrissy Johnson said...

This is a really good summary of what went down...I'm fairly new to the area and appreciate the clarification. Politics are so different (and yet so similar in that same vein!) every where you go.

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