The following is a letter by Tlingit Haida Central Council President Richard Peterson.
As the upcoming election date closes in on us, there are moments where, as a tribal leader, I have to look around and take in the political landscape that I find surrounding us and decide what makes sense for my people right now. This is especially true during this season of high stake political elections.
I am proud to say Tlingit Haida Central Council and I personally have endorsed Senator Mark Begich and wish to see him re-elected to the United States (US) Senate. Until we see Alaska Natives making successful runs for statewide political office as our fellow leader Byron Mallott is actively pursuing, we have to do our part to investigate those who are running and decide who best represents and respects our values as Alaska Native people. For me, when gauging what’s being accomplished, proposed, and talked about, I see Senator Begich working in alignment with the issues important to Tlingit and Haida people.
From the first time we met in my new role as elected President of Tlingit Haida Central Council, Senator Begich sat down with me, shared his views, and listened to mine. We made a connection in a way that makes me want to hold him accountable and in a way that makes me want to work harder so that my people can have a stronger future – one that I know Senator Begich will help protect.
From his support for Alaska tribes to take land into trust (the same opportunity as tribes in the rest of the country) to his tireless support for stronger tribal court authority and tribal sovereignty and ongoing support for our customary and traditional rights to harvest and live off the lands we have walked for over ten thousand years, Senator Begich has proven his commitment to advancing Alaska Native interests. These fundamental issues are not battles we have to wage with him, they are building blocks tribes across Alaska can count on as we work to reclaim resilient communities.
When you cast your ballot, look ahead and imagine which candidate will best pursue the vision you have for your children, grandchildren, and future generations who will be here taking care of our lands across Alaska for another thousand years. I support Senator Mark Begich’s re-election to the US Senate because when I look forward, he is the one I see fighting for our future.