indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Health Coverage for American Indians and Alaska Natives
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Mark Trahant: Historic election in Alaska with Native candidate

Filed Under: Opinion | Politics
More on: 2014, alaska, alaska native, byron mallott, democrats, elections, mark trahant, native vote, sovereignty, subsistence
     


Alaska Gov.-elect Bill Walker and Lt. Gov-elect Bryon Mallott during a campaign swing through Barrow, Alaska. The swearing-in ceremony is planned for December 1. Photo from Walker Mallott for Alaska

Watching Alaska politics, for me, has been like looking back in time. The animosity of state institutions toward Alaska Natives is all too familiar. It’s Arizona during the 1950s and 1960s. Or Washington state during the 1960s and 1970s. Or Montana just after the turn of the new century. Not that those states are perfect now. Far from it. But what’s reflected in Alaska is a list of official state acts that show contempt for Alaska Native concerns.

Alaska voters just flipped on the time machine and zoomed forward. Welcome to the 21st century, Alaska.

The story is both improbable and historic. The year started with a three-way race for governor.

The current governor, Sean Parnell, who has been a zealous litigant against Native interests during his time in office. His message was consistent: No to sovereignty. No to rethinking subsistence hunting and fishing in a way that would work for people who’ve managed game and fisheries for tens of thousands of years. And even a no when it came to ending court cases that Alaska Natives had already won. No. No. No.

Then two candidates, one an independent and the other a Democrat, challenged that idea in forum after forum. At the National Congress of American Indians in June, for example, Bill Walker and Byron Mallott already sounded like they were on the same page when it came to Alaska Native issues. This was expected from Mallott, a member of the Yakutat Tlingit Tribe, and a clan leader of the Kwaashk’i Kwáan of the Raven people. But Walker was right there too, issue after issue, showing how to open the door to a new century.

Alaska should be the model for Indian Country and state relations. Alaska Natives are nearly 20 percent of the population and growing faster than the general population. And, like so many other states, Native presence, culture, and economic acts are intertwined with Alaska’s success. This state will never be more than an oil and gas colony unless it gets right with Alaska Natives.

The election is over. Promises are made. And now it’s time to see that model engaged. A transition team — one that includes Native leadership — is already moving forward.

Last August Gov.-elect Walker told me that it would take him about “fifteen minutes” for Alaska to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. This alone is huge. The Alaska Native medical system is remarkable now, but imagine what can be done with additional money. Imagine what can be done with a better partner from the state. A partnership that should create new jobs and improve health care delivery. As Walker himself said, “It helps between 10,000 and 40,000 Alaskans. And it creates 4,000 new medical jobs in our state and brings down the cost of health care. Why would we not do that?”

Why not, indeed?

But “why not?” is worth asking about on so many issues of contention between the state and Alaska Natives.

Why not rethink subsistence management? What would happen if Native communities managed species (creating jobs) along the lines of the co-management in the Pacific Northwest. This is better for The People — and the natural world.

Or what about a state that funds, supports and works with tribal governments? The federal government recognizes villages as tribes but the state has essentially dismissed that sector as a “not really.” But there are huge opportunities to improve lives by reversing the policy course. Especially when it comes to creating better mechanisms to treat violence against women or even smarter approaches to community justice. Indeed, that’s been a repeated suggestion from a wide variety of experts. But one that’s been rejected consistently by the state.

It’s historic that an Alaska Native man is the state’s Lieutenant Governor but that really misses the point.

That narrative misses because of the way the fusion candidacy happened, Mallott is no ordinary running mate. He has the potential to elevate the office and be involved in decisions that impact all Alaskans.

And I should mention, because I care about voting and voting rights, Mallott will also be the chief elections officer. That's really great because this election was as much about the organization and the success of Alaska Native voters who found new paths to the ballot box.

So here is an image to think about in Alaska: This is the beginning of a new partnership, Alaska Natives with a voice in the management and future of the state. In the state Capitol, in elections to come, and in policy decisions now.

Welcome to the 21st century, Alaska. Indian Country is watching and excited to see what can be.

Mark Trahant holds the Atwood Chair at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He is an independent journalist and a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. For up-to-the-minute posts, download the free Trahant Reports app for your smart phone or tablet.


Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Indian Country presses Supreme Court to hear labor law dispute (5/31)
Another week goes by without decision in tribal jurisdiction case (5/31)
Field hearing in South Dakota on Indian Health Service reform bill (5/31)
Indian Health Service reaches first tribal compact in Great Plains (5/31)
Supreme Court won't hear long-running Seneca Nation land case (5/31)
Native Sun News: Longtime Indian Health Service staff reassigned (5/31)
Lakota Country Times: Native newspaper brings home 14 awards (5/31)
Delphine Red Shirt: Our language doesn't need 'expert' approval (5/31)
Clara Caufield: Northern Cheyenne show love for commod cheese (5/31)
Editorial: Newspaper continues to grow and reach Native readers (5/31)
Mary Annette Pember: Rosebud Sioux Tribe battles meth epidemic (5/31)
Ruth Hopkins: Elizabeth Warren is counting coup on Donald Trump (5/31)
Debra Haaland: Donald Trump mocks Native people and our history (5/31)
Harlan McKosato: Let's conduct new poll on the racist NFL mascot (5/31)
Raymond Foxworth: Tribal opposition to racist names still matters (5/31)
Steven Newcomb: Original nations pushed to accept lower status (5/31)
Mike Myers: Roadblocks to true self-governance in Indian Country (5/31)
Carly McIntosh: A real live study on the use of medical marijuana (5/31)
Young member of Coushatta Tribe dies after bee attack in Arizona (5/31)
Washoe Tribe and Poarch Band celebrate opening of unique casino (5/31)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe not worried about anti-casino lawsuit (5/31)
Ak-Chin Indian Community reacts to measles exposure at casino (5/31)
First Lady Michelle Obama shares story of hope with Indian school (5/26)
Remarks by First Lady Michelle Obama at Santa Fe Indian School (5/26)
Gary Davis of NCAIED joins Small Business Administration council (5/26)
Arne Vainio: A mother's gift carried me through many life journeys (5/26)
Native Sun News: Tribes score big in fights against energy projects (5/26)
Lakota Country Times: Education Secretary hears from Pine Ridge (5/26)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Ending Whiteclay beer sales starts at home (5/26)
Vi Waln: Rosebud Sioux youth lead efforts to bring relatives home (5/26)
Gyasi Ross: Drug epidemic sweeping through Native communities (5/26)
Jacqueline Keeler: Shameful and skewed poll on racist NFL name (5/26)
Interview with Melvin Monette about Cobell scholarship program (5/26)
Auction house in France won't stop sale of sacred tribal property (5/26)
United Keetoowah Band installs new leader after impeachment (5/26)
Kewa Pueblo builds new community around historic trading post (5/26)
Eastern Cherokee elder translates 'Charlotte's Web' into Tsalagi (5/26)
Puyallup Tribe works to keep language alive for new generations (5/26)
Iowa Tribe offers free play on poker website ahead of full launch (5/26)
Alabama-Coushatta Tribe offers gaming options closer to home (5/26)
Kaw Nation receives national award for tribal gaming initiatives (5/26)
Indian Health Service reform efforts gaining steam on Capitol Hill (5/25)
Indian Health Service announces more hires at troubled hospital (5/25)
Keepseagle attorneys open application process for $38M in grants (5/25)
Three tribes enter cooperative agreements for buy-back program (5/25)
New leader selected for HUD's Office of Native American Programs (5/25)
Indian relay racers gear up for event hosted by Muckleshoot Tribe (5/25)
Cronkite News: Tribes seek return of property up for sale in France (5/25)
Native Sun News: Anti-suicide effort incorporates tribal traditions (5/25)
Lakota Country Times: Pine Ridge youth showcase film projects (5/25)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.