Who are Alaska’s Native peoples?
The term “Alaska Native” is used to describe the peoples who are indigenous to the lands
and waters encompassed by the state of Alaska: peoples whose ancestors have survived here
for more than ten thousand years.
What is important to know about Alaska Native cultures?
- share key values, such as honoring the land and waters upon which life depends; respecting and sharing with others; respecting and learning from Elders; living with an attitude of humility and patience; honoring the interconnections among all things; being mindful in word and deed; knowing one’s place in the context of one’s history, traditions, and ancestors.
- are completely rooted in and tied to the land and waters of a particular region and the practices and customs necessary to thrive in that region.
- have been hard hit by myriad forces over the past two centuries, including diseases brought by European immigrants and traders; enslavement and oppression by colonizing powers (including the United States government, territorial government,Russian government, and religious organizations); a huge influx of non-Natives, which has altered access to subsistence foods and resulted in restrictive regulation; the arrival of western technologies, religions, economic systems, industrial development, and educational systems; and climate change.
Palin's office has faced heavy criticism of her rural policies, particularly in relation to Native issues such as subsistence, tribal government relations and voting rights. The post of rural adviser had been vacant since October 2008 when Rhonda McBride stepped down during the presidential campaign. At that time, McBride, who is not an Alaska Native, sent an e-mail to several Native leaders saying that there needed to be more Native voices in Palin's administration.
Governor Palin has named John Moller to be her rural adviser. Moller said that he was hired three weeks ago - before the state hiring freeze began - and started the job on Friday, January 30. The news that the post had been filled came as a surprise to many because the governor's office did not issue a press release or announcement that the position had finally been filled.
John Moller, an Aleut, is a former crab fisherman from Unalaska who brings a long career in fisheries management to the post, including experience with the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council and the Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association CDQ.
"The reason I signed on for this job was to advise the governor on what I think we need in rural Alaska. And it's not a one-size-fits-all hat. We are a very diverse state." said Moller.
On Feb. 17, Moller will be traveling to Emmonak, Kotlik, Alakanuk and Nunam Iqua, communities hard hit by the energy crisis, to assess their situation and "the effectiveness of some of the efforts that the state has taken already."
Hopefully, with John Moller's input, any future state initiatives would be devised and enacted within the context of what's really important to the Alaska Native peoples, respecting their varied cultural backgrounds and regional needs. They are not looking for state handouts or patronising policies. Their wish is for enabling policies (that would guarantee their independence from the state in the long term) through, for example, relevant infrastructure projects, so the communities can thrive in their ancestral lands. Their real needs and wishes have been neglected for far too long.
(Who are Alaska's Native peoples? What is important... full text pdf.)
(John Moller's appointment: from The Tundra Drums)