The Natives are RESTLESS and NO ONE cares!

by

Dear Governor Parnell, Mr. Moller, Ms. Jollie and Others*

My name is Ann Strongheart.  I am from the village of Nunam Iqua on the Yukon Delta.  I am certain most of you already know who I am, if not I invite you to visit my blog to learn more about me.  http://anonymousbloggers.wordpress.com/

Like Mr. Nicholas Tucker Sr., I have become an advocate of sorts for the people of bush Alaska.  After last winter’s crisis not only on the Yukon but also across bush Alaska I along with a group of wonderfully generous hardworking individuals have been trying to keep this winter from turning out like last year’s.

Although with another non existent salmon fishing season on the Yukon and winter fast approaching I am worried that this winter will in fact be worse than last winter.  I was happy to see that Governor Parnell made a disaster declaration for the Salmon Fisheries on the Yukon, although I fear that this will not be enough.

We at Anonymous Bloggers have been trying, in vain, to find out if the rural villages have enough fuel for the winter.  We have contacted, with little to no response, the Rural Advisory Panel and the Rural Sub cabinet and Rural Advisor Moller and the Attorney General and I could keep going and going with our attempts to get answers to the following questions:

Are the meetings for both the Advisory Panel and the Rural Sub cabinet open to the public? If so can we get a 1-800 so we might listen in?

Also, is it possible to get an agenda for both?

If we see something either on the agenda or missing from the agenda that concerns us is it possible to speak to the issue? If not who would we direct our concerns to?

As rural Alaskan citizens we have a number of concerns that are specific to our areas and are looking for a forum in which to have those issues addressed.

Those are just a few of the questions we have asked and had ignored.

I am curious about a few things, and I am hoping that SOMEONE that receives this email will help me learn.

Are rural Alaskans time and respect worth less than yours??  As rural Alaskans we take time out of our busy schedules trying to put away enough food for the winter to contact you all with our concerns.

Instead of prompt courteous responses we are either ignored or referred to someone else who in turn refers us to another and another.

Is this something that our Government officials take a special class on and learn how to placate their constituents?  It seems like to me that y’all figure if you ignore us enough or give us enough of a run around that maybe just maybe we’ll go away??

Are our concerns less important than urban Alaskans because it is so hard for us to make it into Anchorage or Juneau due to the cost of travel?  Does this make it easier to ignore our legitimate questions?

Is it your hope that eventually we will just all give up and move to Anchorage so y’all can take over the resources in rural Alaska ?

Let me assure you that will NEVER happen.  Alaskan Natives and Native Americans across not only Alaska but the entire United States are tired of being ignored, used, abused, discarded and manipulated!  We have been knocked down, and told what to do and not do for hundreds of years.  We, all Natives, are very proud people.  We may have been ignored and pushed around but no longer.  We are learning that we do have voices and that we can be not only heard but also listened to.  We will not give up what little land and resources we have now nor in the future.  We have already had too much taken away from us.  So don’t think that by placating and ignoring us that we’ll just give up.  We have just gotten started.  The “Natives” are restless and tired of being ignored and stepped on.

We have the same rights as every U.S. Citizen granted to us by the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence among others.  We won’t go quietly into the bush and continue to be ignored and taken advantage of.  I am quite certain that we, Native Alaskans and Native Americans, have earned more respect than we have been allotted by our Government Officials.   But what have you done to earn our respect?  I don’t think respect is earned by placating and ignoring someone, do you?

I know y’all are busy, but last time I checked everyone is.  I think our time is just as precious as yours.  I think if we can take the time out of subsistence fishing and gathering etc. to contact you that the least y’all could do would be to reply saying “I received your letter/call/etc. and I am busy but will respond to you when I can or forward your inquiry to someone who can respond.

At least take the time to blow us off properly by responding that you did in fact receive our letters rather than completely ignoring us.

It seems like the only way we, Alaskan Native and Rural Alaskans, can get your attention is to get the media involved.  We have to step up on our soap boxes and yell loud enough for y’all in Anchorage and Juneau to hear us.  Why in the world is it so hard for OUR elected and non elected officials, who are supposed to represent us, to address our questions?

So can anyone who received this email answer my questions?  At this point since the meeting is on Monday I’d even be happy to hear back from the Anchorage Daily News or the Alaska Dispatch, or any other media or individual since I doubt I will receive a response from any Government Officials.

Quyana Cakneq in advance for your time in reading and hopefully responding to this inquiry.

Ann Strongheart

(Attn:  Any MSM/newspapers whom are receipients of this letter have my permission to publish it.  Please feel to contact me if you have any questions)

*Sent: Friday, August 14, 2009 2:30 PM
To: sean.parnell@alaska.gov; john.moller@alaska.gov; emil.notti@alaska.gov; tara.jollie@alaska.gov; ombudsman@legis.state.ak.us; jonathan.katchen@alaska.gov; michael.black@alaska.gov
Cc: Annie Feidt; Art Nelson; beth skabar; Wesley ADN; Dennis Zaki – AlaskaReport.com; Linda Biegel; Rep John Coghill; Cora Crome; Rep Nancy Dahlstrom; Sen Hollis French; Rep Carl Gatto; Karen Gillis; Rep Max Gruenberg; Rep Lindsey Holmes; TONY HOPFINGER; Kyle Hopkins; wesley loy; Rep Bob Lynn; Simon Mallory; Sen Lesil McGuire; Philip Munger; Harlan Native America Calling; Rep Jay Ramras; Neva Reece; Harley Sundown; Sen Gene Therriault; Nick Tucker; Sen Bill Wielechowski; bakerotz@otz.net; bacydfda@yahoo.com; tmack@aleutcorp.com; N1857@conocophillips.com; deweyskan@hotmail.com; robin@bbedc.com; gcannelos@denali.gov; Mary_pete@bethel.uaf.edu; Kathie@akml.org; jadams@gci.net; goneill@citci.com; Merlaine.kruse@ak.usda.gov; AFNInfo@NativeFederation.org; alex@alaskanewspapers.com
Subject: The Natives are RESTLESS and NO ONE cares!

Note: I’m posting this for Ann because she’s spent much of her valuable time today rebooting her computer just to  get this letter out.

In Bethel, Ethan Berkowitz, a former state legislator who lost a bid for Congress last year, joined the meeting to push for $180 million in stimulus money to create the infrastructure for broadband Internet in rural Alaska. I second that!

Also, Ann neglected to mention that both she and Nick took time from their busy lives to be guests on nationally-aired Native America Calling on  public radio recently. John Moller was invited to participate and didn’t reply.

~ Jane

***

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***

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23 Responses to “The Natives are RESTLESS and NO ONE cares!”

  1. Jim Says:

    Ann:

    I’m still waiting to hear back from the State about the Alaska Rural Action Subcabinet, but I did get some answers about the advisory panel.

    Public notice of quarterly advisory panel meetings are posted at the Atwood Building in Anchorage on the day of the quarterly meeting. (These notices have not been posted on the State’s website beforehand like other public notices that get posted there).

    Living in Anchorage, even I would probably miss such a notice because I wouldn’t drive by and check each morning.

    Various websites tell us how far we’d need to travel from rural Alaska locations to the Atwood Building to see if any new notices had been posted for that day:

    http://www.infoplease.com/atlas/calculate-distance.html

    For example if you were in Nunam Iqua, I guess the Atwood Building would be nearly a thousand mile round trip for you. Plus the horrifically expensive charter flight would have to leave your place around 4 or 5 in the morning (and the weather would need to be good) in order for you to get to Atwood in time to check for that day’s notices or attend the meeting. Barrow would be close to 1500 miles round trip. Southeast would really suck too.

    They’ll probably claim you could call their office, but they should take the initiative and inform rural Alaska of their upcoming business and scheduled meetings. They should invite rural Alaska’s participation.

  2. anonymousbloggers Says:

    Ann’s still battling it out with her Internet connection. She asked me to pass the along:

    From: Tony Hopfinger
    Subject: RE: The Natives are RESTLESS and NO ONE cares!
    To: “‘Ann Strongheart'”
    Date: Friday, August 14, 2009, 2:33 PM

    May we republish this on Alaska Dispatch?
    Thanks,

    Tony

    Reply: Absolutely Tony, Quyana for asking :-D

  3. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    Ann, wow! I can tell you wrote this from the bottom of your heart – winter is coming fast and I’m also, too, beginning to panic a bit thinking of all that goes into preparing for that in the Bush. Whew. I’m going to try to keep an open mind about the state Rural advocates/ panels / subcabinets / advisors until you start getting some response. I’m holding my breath, but I’m ready with able fingers to write letters and make phone calls if you get the run around again from the state. There is absolutely no excuse for this inaction and lack of contact!

  4. the problem child Says:

    Far and wide, we care. And if necessary, we will continue to support you with donations, mailings, research, and moral support. But dammit, help and answers should be available closer to home!!

  5. aspiecelia Says:

    Ann they ignore almost everyone. I have been waiting myself for about three years. The only response I got was the department of law told them not to talk to me. We are all behind you on this. I am so happy to see native people speak up. The next issue: The high number of native people in the prison system.

  6. alaskapi Says:

    It is expected that we must accept our government.
    We expect, in return, that our government accept us…

    As we must fufill our obligations to our government, so must our government fufill it’s obligations to us…

    It’s information we have been asking for…
    INFORMATION…

    Information to share around and use to see what needs to be done…

    Information to understand whats and hows of the state’s part in things…

    NOT asking for trade secrets, NOT asking for sensitive material…

    Crimenently…

    ———————-

    Good on ya, Ann- this has been going on for months now…
    this asking and waiting thingy…
    Very little response overall…
    Was starting to feel like we could all die or retire before much shook loose…
    And winter is close on our heels now.

  7. UgaVic Says:

    Funny when you think of these meetings— they have to let their members know in plenty of time to get there and IF they are coming from rural areas that would take some time. (of course IF they are NOT coming from rural areas ……. I will leave the idea of how much they are REALLY involved in rural issue up to you)

    Not posting UNTIL THE DAY OF makes me believe they do NOT want input from others, especially those of us who are “RURAL”.

    Or is this a matter of them trying to hide something and have an agenda of their that they use rural issues to hide behind?

    Just my thoughts!

  8. BBVillager Says:

    Every state sponsored advisory committee I have served on the meeting had to be posted a minimum of 10 days in advance. Why is this committee so special that it can post on the day of the meeting???
    Do they really want input or do they have preset agendas and want to use the cover of a state committee to force something on rural residents?
    we see a lot of personal agendas overriding public good in Bristol Bay.

  9. Aleut Granddaughter Says:

    This is going to sound a bit angry, but I guess that is what I am now after this run around – more than a bit angry at the lack of action and even more so, the complete lack of public notice for these groups and meetings.

    For months now, thank god she’s gone, we’ve had to suffer the petty personal blog that the ex gov made of the State Governor’s website. The snotty press releases, the immediate rebuttals to anything she didn’t like, pictures of her plastered everywhere but none of the REAL Alaska or Alaskans in their environment. I was disgusted to even have to visit the page to verify the press releases (some were just too weird to believe when I read them posted somewhere else).

    All this effort for the selfish celebrity – nothing was updated in the state more quickly than the ex-gov’s blog. I’d like to know what these staff are up to now with all that time on their hands now that the site is actually an official looking site again, w/o the drama, the cutsie stuff, and rambling writings which were called press releases? I doubt the ex herself put all this time and effort into the website and how quickly it was updated – so to me it seems there are some crack staff out there who need to put their talents to work at something much simpler, more informative, and more rewarding for Rural Alaskans.

    Drum roll… a Rural Info page which has all the pertinent meetings and agencies posted and UPDATED on a consistent and timely basis. Not a static page which never changes and is thrown up just for show. We are aware that many Rural Alaskans, especially elders, do not have access to, and may not understand the workings of the Internet. However, there are many who do and they can share this information with others in their villages or families quite easily. What good does it do to call long distance to Juneau or Anchorage (which is not inexpensive) to get a receptionist, or a recording? And certainly do not call on the weekends or after 4:30pm on weekdays!

    Mr. Moller is quickly developing a reputation for not returning phone calls, he does not post his schedule, and in several months of casual searching on my part to find out whether the state has identified to residents where his office is actually located – nothing. I think now we can assume his office is in Juneau since he lives there, but does anyone know where is office is in Juneau? And with the capital creep that the ex gov promoted during her aborted term, there is no way to assume that a state official’s office is in Juneau anymore.

    Does Mr. Moller have a direct phone line? Not when I called. You are supposed to call the gov’s office and leave a message w/ a receptionist. This is not conducive to clear and regular communication with Rural Alaska’s advisor. I talked to folks who felt intimidated by calling the ex Gov’s office – possibly they were trying to reach the advisor exactly because they couldn’t get through to, or trust the ex gov or staff. There was a vindictiveness in everything she did if not agreed with.

    I guess he mostly advises in a vacuum to the governor since Rural Alaskans can’t really find him. I don’t think we now have to worry about retaliation or vindictiveness from the Gov’s office, but the damage has been done and now needs to be fixed by the current administration to regain the trust of the residents who require and desire information about the state’s policies, programs, staff and officials.

    Rant over, but I’m not really going to feel any better about this until a big dose of professionalism is injected into the actions and programs promised to, and designed for Rural Alaskans. I respect our government, and I respect authority. Or I did before, and now would like to again. C’mon Gov Parnell and staff – all of Alaska needs you to buckle down & get some real work done. Mr. Moller – quit hiding out wherever you are hiding out, we need you, too!

  10. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    The more I think about this, the more I talk to people who have been trying to get information since JUNE about mitigating fuel costs, etc – the more I am ready to just call for these people and groups to be tossed in the can and time to start over. It’s the same old thing, the same old run around, and as a friend of mine said, the same old tendency to feather one’s own nest at the expense of others who they are supposed to be serving.

    The attitude that I’m seeing from the outside looking in, is much of what I found when I worked for local gov’t as the “newbie”. I dove into my public service jobs with resolve and energy. Didn’t take long before the old timers were whispering and trying to figure out how to shut me up! If someone else worked hard, who RESPECTED and EMBRACED their job as a public servant, there were many who found that a danger to their good ol’ status quo of getting by without a lot of effort. I don’t mean necessarily that they weren’t’ actually doing their paid for duties, they had just reduced those duties to exactly what was comfortable for them and those which easily fit the 8-4:30 M-F schedule. Many of them did very much a minimum of what they could be doing, and were waiting to retire at a young age with a nice pension and health benefits.

    I got a lot tougher when I gave up those jobs with nice benefits – had I had children I may not have been brave enough to step outside the box and do other things, including starting my own business. Now it becomes even more difficult for me to think of so many of those well paid people – forgettting that they are PUBLIC SERVANTS. It’s not that they should be paid less, have fewer benefits, whatever – that’s not the problem.

    The problem is that they completely lose touch with the actual basic responsibilities and awareness of being a public servant. Period. It becomes all about them! I often didn’t want to give my name out on the phone when I worked for gov’t – I didn’t necessarily want the public to see me as an individual, but instead an employee who represented their state or city government in whatever program I was working for.

    We have stagnation, we have the same ol’ folks filling the panel and subcabinet positions that have been around for a long time and they don’t really have to push each other. In fact, I’m pretty certain they do not WANT new voices, new energy and new ideas injected into these stagnant groups. They might have to DO something!

    There are many folks who have put in a great amount of effort in trying to get these folks to talk to them, give out information, and to be accountable for their jobs. They are wasting our precious time and the state’s resources.

  11. lettersfromeurope Says:

    We hear you on the other side of the world. How come your government can´t your you?

  12. Jim Says:

    My 8-year old probably won’t tolerate it (she’s a smart girl) so I may not be able to go, but apparently there will be a meeting of the Alaska Rural Action Subcabinet on Monday August 17. I assume it will be at the Atwood Building in Anchorage. My guess is they may post an announcement there.

    If anyone near Anchorage has the time, on Monday please check at the Atwood Building and see when and if the subcabinet will meet. If you have more time, please attend the meeting.

    Apologies ahead if I am giving incorrect information– it is my best guess that the subcabinet will meet at the Atwood Building and there will be some kind of announcement there describing when and where the meeting will be. But for all I know it could be in Juneau.

    Of course if they had published a public notice on the State’s website . . .

    Then we wouldn’t get jerked around!

    I’ll try to negotiate with my daughter but no guarantees. Plus, I can’t blame her for not wanting to go to a rural subcabinet meeting.

    If you can help out and attend the meeting, please let us know.

  13. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    Jim – I do hope someone is able to attend! I would also like to know whether any of the subcabinet had to travel to Anchorage or Juneau for the meeting since the executive order which formed them states that they pay their own travel expenses. In that case, it would make sense that all the members live in the same region and have meetings at the same place each time.

    Tara Jollie is apparently based in Anchorage, according to the “Schedule a Meeting with Tara” at the bottom of her bio page which as a “269” Anchorage prefix:

    http://www.commerce.state.ak.us/dcra/bio_Tara.htm

  14. Noelle Says:

    I care!!!! That was a very passionate and well-written letter. I loved that you asked the $20 question, if it’s really just an attempt to drive you from your land, and then your statement that it will NEVER happen. I have emails to ADN & Parnell coming but my kiddos need mommy time (does Moller really have a say? SP was basically a dictator. Should he be addressed or is he a figurehead?) Also, where is the post/link about donations? Last year we were able to call a company instead of sending things, it was more economical you said? OK, duh, I tried again and now my browser is treating it as a link instead of an image up top.

    I think that the the web/blogs have leveled the playing field somewhat (evidenced by the grassroots movements to elect Obama.) When police began beating their own people in Iran, it was posted and shown throughout the world. Before they may have been able to silence the opposition so we would hear only rumors or a few photos in the papers. We heard the voices of the people, on blogs, on twitter, in their words. Sarah Palin talks of death squads but she left rural AK to starve last winter, and skedaddled before tackling any rural issues this year. Death squads indeed. I hope this gets out, I hope the MSM latches on, so more pressure is put on the AK Admin. I’m glad that the web has allowed me to hear your voices.
    Ellie in CA, US
    XXXXXXX

    Are there websites or etsy sellers that sell rural and/or Native AK handiwork?

  15. booboodog Says:

    Ann, stay strong. If they don’t feel SOMETHING after reading this, they aren’t human. I have heard the saying ‘why don’t they move to the cities?’ and I want to kick something. I do think with the palin gone, you might see some progress, but it will take alot more loud voices and time is important. I’m sending positive vibes your way!

  16. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    Noelle,

    This is a lovely site to browse:

    http://alaskanativearts.org/ArtistPortal/ArtistList.aspx?ModuleID=55

  17. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    Noelle, I did go look at Etsy but was not able to find artists who use the Silver Hand seal which Alaska Natives use to denote authenticity. There were some lovely items, but I recommend always looking for the Silver Hand to ensure that the craft is Alaskan Native, and that the artist is receiving a fair price for their work.

  18. yukonbushgrma Says:

    Ann,

    How succinct …… and how forceful, sincere and honest.

    BRAVA!!!!!!

    If no one replies to that, they do not deserve to represent us.

    YBG

  19. anonymousbloggers Says:

    From: Sen. Bill Wielechowski
    Subject: Re: The Natives are RESTLESS and NO ONE cares!
    To: “Ann Strongheart”
    Date: Sunday, August 16, 2009, 10:02 AM

    Thanks for copying me on this, Ann. The Senate Resources and Energy Committees have traveled to several rural communities and will go to several more to see and hear firsthand what is happening and what is needed in rural Alaska. We are working on an energy plan that we hope will help both rural and urban Alaska.

    Thanks for being such a strong advocate.

    Warm regards,
    Bill

  20. anonymousbloggers Says:

    From: Nick Tucker Sr.
    Subject: Re: The Natives are RESTLESS and NO ONE cares!
    To: nunamiquayouth@yahoo.com
    Cc: (all original recipients)
    Date: Saturday, August 15, 2009, 7:11 PM

    Ann:

    It is so sad why we should even have to start anything like this. We shouldn’t have had any reason to start begging for equity, equality, respect, responses, attention, representation, adequate services, responsible governorship, quality work, truth, professionalism, efficiency, proficiency, and cabinets who do dare to care.

    Let you and I hope that anyone thinking or planning on running for governor and other leadership will have the backbone to give rural Alaska its due attention. I am looking forward with cabinets with backbones as well. We’ve just got to expect much more of our leadership than we’ve had. As I’ve said to one of the aspiring leaders for next elections, “When you have left a job well done, it is the character you leave behind.” Do we even have anyone that can take up that challenge?

    When we truly help each others out, we will have a stronger Alaska, a better united Alaska. Let me repeat this: Unlike the myths, misconceptions, characterizations, judgments, stigmatizations, and the like, we have always been intelligent, educated, real men and women, decent human beings, culturally rich with sacred teachings and values, strong and confident. Unfortunately, we hadn’t been given the free reign to demonstrate these nor advance. It ended up sad by having to be given welfare and public assistance. If we had been part of the society from the beginning, we would not be treated in so many sad ways today. I would’ve love to have grown up in a society as contributing citizens and taxpayers. Sadly, for majority of us, that opportunity had been more discouraged than encouraged.

    Ann, it isn’t too late. That is what we are crying about.

    One more thing. I hope that this and the new administrations will invite our regional tribal associations to their tables.

    Nick

  21. alaskapi Says:

    Well…interesting…

    Mr Tucker , as always, takes time to stay in touch and offer insight and hope that we can knit this huge state and it’s peoples together…
    Thank you Mr Tucker.

    Ann-
    Given that a letter/email which is up front about intentions to post any answers on a blog must necessarily be of concern to many recipients I find it interesting that the only person to date to respond at all is a Senator from Anchorage…
    Thank you Senator W-

    We have heard good things about the R and E Committees…
    though I have to admit we are on the verge of suffering from committee fatigue here at AB and across rural Alaska…
    It is the actual set of projects and so on we are looking to see fruit from- from all these meetings all over the place…

  22. alaskapi Says:

    I apologize…
    I looked past the first responders.
    at least 2 media representitives have responded…

    Best wishes for the radio interview Ann.
    Speak up loud and clear!
    Aa’nana Pi

  23. Noelle Says:

    That’s awesome that Senator Wielechowski responded so nicely and in a timely matter. Social niceties do not seem to be observed when one is in a position of government power usually.

    Martha Unalaska Yard Sign, thanks! That is a lovely site! Do you happen to know any of the names of the artists, whether they reside in areas hardest hit by the fishing disaster? I’d like to purchase from artists in rural regions. I don’t want to appear discriminatory, it’s just there is a lot of beautiful art to chose from, and I like to know where my money goes to. If it could go to someone in an area where they pay INSANE amounts of $ for groceries and spend fuel driving miles and miles to get to a grocery store VS someone in Anchorage who doesn’t have to debate the food or fuel dilemma…you see what I mean? I’d love some direction if anyone can help, there is a whole list of artists on there. Thanks so much!

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