Cordelia Qignaaq Kellie: Justice for Native people in Alaska too

Attorney General Loretta Lynch with young Native leaders in Anchorage, Alaska, on June 10, 2016. Photo from First Alaskans Institute / Facebook

Cordelia Qiġnaaq Kellie, the publisher of Nalliq, and other young Alaska Natives took part in a roundtable with Attorney General Loretta Lynch of the Department of Justice on June 10. She shared some of the struggles facing residents in rural villages in the state:
The North Slope is a beautiful and complex place, composed of some of the most generous and loving people I know. However, like the rest of Alaska, there are challenges as well. It was these issues that the Attorney General of the United States sought to hear, and a small group of young Alaska Native leaders were invited to share experiences of how we have been exposed to these challenges in an authentic and unscripted way.

The hosts opened the meeting on June 10 in the Cook Inlet Tribal Council conference room and the first youth began to share her story, of sexual abuse and domestic violence, speaking to the attorney general, DOJ officials, media, and other Native leadership. The next echoed similar circumstances, personalized with the challenges in his community. The attorney general listened intently as we heard these raw, personal accounts of overcoming homelessness and poverty, racial discrimination, and striving to thrive while battling immense abuse, violence and trauma. Eight stories of tremendous adversity yielded eight accounts of overcoming the darkest aspects of our state, before it was my turn to share.

I spoke of how we never used to know suicide. We never used to know displacement. Some think that these issues exist because of who we are as Alaska Natives, and that is not the truth. We never used to be this way. This is not normal. Our great hope is in how this has happened to us so recently, within the realm of living memory. My great vision for our people is that in 100 years we will look back and think about how in the entire timeline of our peoples, all of this was that one weird thing that happened to us that one time.

Get the Story:
Cordelia Qiġnaaq Kellie: In Alaska, justice should be for all of us, not just those who can afford it (Alaska Dispatch News 6/19)

Also Today:
Youth tell US Attorney General that Alaska needs help (Alaska Public Media 6/11)
U.S. attorney general proposes long-term solutions for village public safety needs (Alaska Dispatch News 6/10)
In Anchorage, U.S. Attorney General announces new focus on Alaska Native issues (Alaska Public Media 6/10)
US Attorney General Lynch meets with Alaska Native leaders (AP 6/10)

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