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

Ft. Yukon, Alaska
June 9, 1993

4000 Old Seward Highway, Suite 100
Anchorage, Alaska 99503


Witness List | PDF Version


MR. EATON: (Indiscernible) questions. Thank you. Steve


MR. GINNIS: My name is Steve Ginnis. I'm (indiscernible) the Chief of Fort Yukon. I'm also the Chairman of the Yukon Flat's School Board. And I'm also an executive director of Tanana Chiefs Conference. And there's other things I'm involved in, but Iíll stop there.

What my -- I'd like to just make a few comments regarding a couple issues. The first thing I would like to talk about is tribal government. I'm a very strong advocate of tribal governments. Unfortunately, the state government does not recognize us as tribal governments in this state. And it creates problems for tribal governments, obviously. And in the area that I've had some experience with problems with this recognition by the state government has to do with capital projects funding.

Because we're not recognized, it's funded -- or funneled through the City of Fort Yukon. And because it is funneled through the City of Fort Yukon, one of the problems I see with it is that we have no say in who gets hired on these particular projects. And I do believe I have a solution to that, but I haven't really tried it, and that's to maybe do a memorandum of agreement between the City of Fort Yukon and Native village, to ensure that we do indeed have that responsibility of hiring local people. Because the way it's currently being done now is they just have a select few people that they have on their staff, and unfortunately, the money doesnít spread around --

(Tape changed - Tape 4, Side 2)

MR. GINNIS: -- issue of education. I was just elected chairman recently. And I can relate to a lot of what Nancy has been saying. She's been on the school board before. And, you know, we have our share of problems. And that's problems that I feel that the board need to address.

But when you're dealing with a split board, it's very difficult to accomplish those concerns or those goals. And one of the things that as far as education is concerned that's -- that seems to be a problem is the whole issue of teacher tenure.

You know, there's been some legislation I believe that's been introduced or -- how would I say -- move, I guess, the number of years where you acquire tenure. That now currently is three years, and I think there is some legislation that says five years. And we just feel like the three years just doesn't give us sufficient time. Because what happens is, we work our buns off, okay; first two years; going into that third year they become tenured, and you know what happens. You know, they kind of slack. So we figure that five years, first four years, we'll see how effective, I mean, how -- whether they really are interested in teaching our kids or is it just a plain green they're looking at.

Also, one of the other concerns I have is the whole issue regarding teaching of our own language. Unfortunately, through our bilingual education program, kids are there's a formula that's utilized as far as the state is concerned for bilingual education. It doesn't specifically -- well, the way it's set up is that the people that predominantly speak the Native language is where these bilingual programs are supposed to affect.

But as far as I'm concerned, our language is -- we're losing it. And the thing I don't like about it is that we have bilingual aides in our schools who teach the language, who teach the culture, but have no recognition. And as a result, because they don't have the educational degree that's required. So they're treated differently. They're paid off a different salary scale, which is much, much lower than the current negotiated agreement. And of course, when we bring this issue up during our teacher negotiations, you know, they get riled up because they have the degree, they went to school to get it, and so forth and so on. And these folks are natural people that understand our language and culture.

I hope that something is done about: this. And start treating our own Native people on the same level as you do certified teachers.

The other thing is, this is my own personal observation, is that as traditional people we all have values, our traditional values that we all refer to. I believe that a lot of us don't really practice those values. And it's not passed on down to our children. And since being elected as Chief of this community, that is one of the things that I'm really working hard at, is trying to practice our traditional values, which I call traditional values. And that's sharing and caring for our people; respecting our eiders. And we really need to do that, I think. Because this younger generation that's growing up have no concept of what we're talking about when we're talking about these things. They have because they don't understand that, it's my opinion that they don't know how to relate to the land, the use of the land.

This land out here is really important to all of us. And we a take care of it. Because we live off of it. And when somebody comes in and try to -- initiates some kind of enforcement policies that's contrary to our needs out here, you can be assured that we jump up. And I'm talking about the Fish and Wildlife. And our working relationship with these people has been all right. I mean, it's not like they come in here and try to run our affairs. But you know how the whole subsistence issue in the Legislature and statewide, the debate that goes on involving that.

And one of the things that really concerns me is that I just cannot understand how anybody, any legislator, any commissioner, can try to take away which is -- something which is rightfully part of our culture, part of our lifestyle. And it really frustrates me when I go to meetings and I hear some of the things that I hear, you know, regarding subsistence.

So that's about all I have to say, and I appreciate this opportunity to just express a few of my concerns. Thank you.

MR. EATON: Thank you very much. At this point we're going to take a five-minute break.. And when I say five minutes, (indiscernible).

(Side conversations)

(Off the record at 4:25 p.m.)


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