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
Sovereignty and E-Commerce:  Innovating and Reshaping the  Borders of Indian Country - Arizona State University Third Annual Tribal Government E-Commerce CLE Conference
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:
Secretary Zinke confirms role in talking to tribes about border wall (3/29)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs approves five bills at meeting (3/29)
Ray Cook: Unity lost after #NoDAPL camps close in North Dakota (3/29)
Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women hosts summit (3/29)
Cherokee Nation donates a record $5M to public school districts (3/29)
Little River Band breaks ground on $170M housing development (3/29)
Mohegan Tribe enters partnership with celebrity barbecue chef (3/29)
Judge holds UPS liable for transporting Indian tobacco products (3/29)
Airline pays $1.3M to compensate tribe for plane crash in Brazil (3/29)
Choctaw Nation opens doors to travel center and gaming facility (3/29)
Non-Indian casino in Massachusetts hits construction milestone (3/29)
Trump boasts about approvals for Dakota Access and Keystone XL (3/28)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe acknowledges 'setback' in pipeline war (3/28)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe continues to battle pipeline in court (3/28)
Judge orders removal of gas pipeline on Indian land in Oklahoma (3/28)
Stockbridge-Munsee leader delivers tribal address in Wisconsin (3/28)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Peacemaking in the era of Donald Trump (3/28)
Native Sun News Today: Trump purge fails to affect South Dakota (3/28)
Victor Swallow: When the Air Force bomber crashed at Pine Ridge (3/28)
Charles Kader: Courts close their doors to unrecognized groups (3/28)
Whiteclay liquor licenses under review amid outcry in Nebraska (3/28)
Cowlitz Tribe brings Michael Jordan's Steakhouse to new casino (3/28)
Sycuan Band starts work on $226M expansion of gaming facility (3/28)
Seminole Tribe accuses state of breaking gaming compact again (3/28)
Colville Tribes hail 'historic victory' on aboriginal hunting rights (3/27)
Dakota Access confirms pipeline about to go into service with oil (3/27)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs considers new round of bills (3/27)
Witness list for hearing on diabetes prevention and Native youth (3/27)
Tim Giago: There's a smell of treason in the air in nation's capital (3/27)
Mark Trahant: The fight ahead for the future of Indian health care (3/27)
Bill John Baker: Woman play important roles in Cherokee Nation (3/27)
Brian Lightfoot Brown: One last victory for the Narragansett Tribe (3/27)
Native Sun News Today: Oglala Sioux Tribe questions loss of funds (3/27)
James Giago Davies: Troubled times are coming to Lakota country (3/27)
Sarah Van Gelder: Huge bank divests from Dakota Access Pipeline (3/27)
Cronkite News: Navajo Nation hails decision on aging power plant (3/27)
Tiffany Midge: There's a happy ending for Standing Rock out there (3/27)
Steven Newcomb: Getting to the true meaning of our sovereignty (3/27)
Steve Russell: Losing our status as 'domestic dependent nations' (3/27)
Mona Evans: Creek Nation fails to support Indian Child Welfare Act (3/27)
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.