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Your recent article [“Native ‘first dude’ holds power,” by Rob Capriccioso, Vol. 28, Iss. 14] about the possible positive influence of the Republican vice presidential nominee’s husband, Todd Palin, and how it might be beneficial to tribes was somewhat disconcerting to read.
There is not much evidence here in Alaska that Sarah Palin may be particularly sympathetic of Alaska Native issues, and I would hope your readers would stop and think twice before assuming that her husband’s heritage is an indication that she will have a genuine interest, understanding or awareness of the tribal issues in other states.
Alaska Native issues have some significant differences from other tribal communities. I moved to Alaska in 2001 to work full-time with National Native News [and] would hope to say that I had a decent familiarity with a number of tribal issues in the lower 48; I found Alaska issues and perspectives to be considerably different. No treaties, and only one reservation, for example.
I do try to stay in touch with what is going on here in Alaska, politically and otherwise. In spite of that, I was actually unaware that Palin’s husband and children have Alaska Native ancestry. It may have been mentioned from time to time, but has not been given any particular degree of importance. It certainly seems to be good PR now.
Most significantly, if you do some research on the Palin administration, you may find evidence that her policies have been damaging to Native interests. I would suggest specifically stories from the Anchorage Daily News from February of this year that discuss a controversy over her appointments to the state’s Board of Game.
The upcoming election and the years to come will be a challenging time for all of us no matter who is in the White House. But making informed decisions about who we vote for can help. I hope and pray that we will take our time and seek out as much sound information as we can about the choices we face in the weeks ahead.
– Neva Reece