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Testimony

Submitted to the
Alaska Natives Commission
Social/Cultural Task Force at

Ft. Yukon, Alaska
June 9, 1993

ALASKA NATIVES COMMISSION
JOINT FEDERAL-STATE COMMISSION
ON
POLICIES AND PROGRAMS AFFECTING ALASKA NATIVES
4000 Old Seward Highway, Suite 100
Anchorage, Alaska 99503

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Witness List | PDF Version

 

MR. EATON: Any questions?

(Pause)

Luci Abeita. Did I say that right?

TESTIMONY OF LUCI BEACH ABEITA

MS. ABEITA: My name is Luci Beach Abeita and like Evelyn, my primary concern is the lack of quality in the schools here.

FATHER ELLIOTT: Are you from Fort Yukon?

MS. ABEITA: Yeah, I live here now. I'm currently in graduate school, in limbo as far as where I live right now.

For example, several of the people that teach in schools don't even bank in the state of Alaska. They bank in Mississippi, Alabama, wherever they're from. When school was over, I think school got out at 3:00 in the afternoon, they were on the next plane out of town, and we're not going to see them probably until the day before school starts. You don't see the commitment with a lot of teachers. There are some teachers that are committed to the school, they're from the community and they care.

But as a parent, I had a grievance with the school, and I just felt like nobody was listening. And I sincerely wanted to see things work, you know, I was there to -- I've always volunteered in every school that my children have been at. I didn't feel welcome at the school. I rarely saw parents there. And when I went to the LSAC meeting, I was the only parent there that wasn't a teacher.

I feel like it's a gold mine, you know. Somebody said that Native people, you know, don't want gold mines in the communities. But those schools are gold mines. I think -- a friend of mine who's a principal in Fairbanks said that Alaskan teachers receive -- are the highest-paid teachers in the world, next to people who teach, you know, children of kings and queens. They're making a lot of money, and I don't think we're getting our money's worth out of them.

I work at the university here, and a lot of people that come through have to take developmental math and English course. I don't think they should have to pay for those courses if they've been graduated from the school. They should have those skills when they get there. And if they don't have those skills, I think the school should have to pay for those courses. I think they should be up to standard when they reach the university level.

Along the same lines with education is the Indian education funds, the federal monies for Indian fellowships. There -- only for certain categories can you qualify to receive those monies. And I call them the doctor, lawyer, the Indian chief monies. They're only for people that are going into medicine, law, education. I mean, it's just real limited. And I think in order for people to become self-governing, self-supporting, we have to have people with graduate degrees.

I don't think things are going to change in the schools, in many areas of our lives, until we have our own people who are committed to this -- to the communities who are the principals, who are the superintendents, who are the teachers. And you have to go on. You have to go and get your master's, you have to get your Ph.D. But speaking from my own personal experience, it's tough to get money.

I have one more area of concern, and that falls in line with some of the earlier testimony; is that I really feel that a lot of the substance abuse programs don't work unless the entire family is involved in it, and a lot of the extended family too. Because you can't just take the substance abuser out of the situation and get them straightened out somewhat and send them back to a sick environment. The whole family's affected, and we're just perpetuating the cycle of abuse. The children -- there's a lot of angry children out there, you know. Help the entire family, not just the substance abuser.

And I'd like to speak on behalf of the Interior Aleutian campus at the University of Alaska. We're one of the least funded campuses in the state of the rural colleges. Yet we have one-third of the students enrolled in the university system. And we don't have a lot of the -- we're not able to provide a lot of the services that the other campuses can. For example, we don't have an academic coordinator who can coordinate courses and assist people with attaining the degrees that they need to.

That's all I have to say.

MR. EATON: I have just a couple of questions on the university allocation. It is an area of considerable debate of why (indiscernible) levels. Why do you think the system is as it is today, of allocation of resources?

MS. ABEITA: I don't know if it's because of politics or what. I really can't answer that. But it seems like it's a unfair distribution.

MR. EATON: If you get the least money per capita, who gets the most?

MS. ABEITA: Kuskokwim.

MR. EATON: Why do you think that is?

MS. ABEITA: Probably politics.

MR. EATON: Probably politics?

MS. ABEITA: I -- this is a new arena for me, you know.

MR. EATON: Okay. What kind of a policy adjustment needs to happen in your mind to equalize that? It's very hard for me to ask the questions without putting words in your mouth, which I don't want to do, from a testimony point of view.

MS. ABEITA: It seems like just off the cuff, probably enrollment. You know, if we're serving a lot of students, there must, you know, we must be doing something right, there must be a need out there, you know.

MR. EATON: Do you think being a predominant Indian region plays a role in the allocation of money?

MS. ABEITA: I don't know about that, because Kuskokwim has a largely Yupik population.

MR. EATON: Any other questions? Thank you very much.

 

This document was ocr scanned. We have made every attempt to keep the online document the same as the original, including the recorder's original misspellings or typos.

 
 

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Last modified July 27, 2011