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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

 

(On the record 4:30 p.m.)

(Side conversations)

MR. EATON: Paul Williams.

TESTIMONY OF PAUL WILLIAMS

MR. WILLIAMS: My name is Paul Williams. I'm from Beaver. A lot of things been said already, you know. Don't leave me really much to say. A lot of times you talk to people and sometimes you talk with the wrong people and nothing happens. I hope I'm speaking to the right people today and that we see positive result of being here together. I heard testimony on behalf of the kidsí education. Like Nancy stated, you know, when Senate Bill 35 was first passed in 1975 and start implementing in '76, there was a lot of -- been changes, a lot of changes been made administratively. And I don't know how it happened. One of them is changing from local school board to local school advisory committee. So you know, you understand advisory committee. You don't have to do what they -- what you recommend or what you advise.

Another thing is voting, you know. The reason that we kept our -- the whole REAA as a voting district was to make sure that the parents who are concerned will have that power to vote. And that's the only power we got is to vote. We see a lot of things wrong, we can't do nothing about it because we don't have the authority or the power to do.

We see teachers who are not doing their jobs; what can we do, you know? They said something about tenure. I donít understand tenure, but, you know, if I was in charge I'd kick them out, you know, hire somebody who's going to do the job. Too much money is being spent and we're producing kids who are not qualified. It's a sorry sight, I feel sorry for ourself. We were poor long time ago, but we were free. We knew how to make our living. Men were men, you know. Now they talk about men conference, how you going to be a man? You going to be a man when you get food stamp?

Our only way of survival is living off the land, like myself, Iím a subsistence person. And I go out and go trapping. That's what happened to my trapping. You know, you see the newspaper, you see newspaper about people who are against trapping. And they -- how we going to stop them, you know. What about our economic development? How we going to continue to support our family and be a man? Maybe that's where our drinking comes from. You know you can't be men (indiscernible) you're hi-ding in the bottle.

We start the different ways to try to help ourself, you know, like we done in the past. We utilized our language and we utilized what our forefathers left us, my father and his father and so on. Lot of people like that most people are like that around here; how we going to survive?

They talk about the land claim. They talk about the story of oil up the North Slope. All that has different implications. Now I understand it's different, you know. They take it -- they take the oil all the way across Alaska and all the way across the Pacific Ocean and down into God knows where, you know. And cost a lot of money to buy gas now, you know.

How about the land claims, you know, is it working? What's wrong with it? I see a good report, you know, by Thomas Bircher (ph.). This is a reflection of what people want. You know, they don't want to talk about corporation. What we know about corporation? We want land for survival. We want to do what we're good at, we want to be happy. That's how -- that's where happiness and self-discipline and responsibility come from. How can we be responsible when we can't even start a fur co-op? A fur co-op is just to hire a few people where the trapper can sell your fur, and it's not working. Why is it not working? We need technical assistance. Where's the government? Who's going to look -- who's going to help us to help ourself?

They want us to continue to be Indian and stay down there where we belong. They said, you stay down there. Don't come up. Donít climb up. You stay down there. We're not going to help you. You continue to get food stamp and GA or whatever.

We're proud to be here. We're proud that our -- we're living. Life is very important. Kids got to know that, we're trying to teach them life is important. It's only a one-shot deal. If you lose it, that's it. The kids is our future. You know, I'm 56 year's old right now. I don't know how long I'm going to last. But I don't live my life, you know. I hope you are the right people that we speak to.

I want to say some more, but I'm not a very good speaker. When I'm -- when I get scared, you know, I get (indiscernible). You know, help me. Help me get the thing going, you know (laughter). That's what you're there for. Thank you very much (laughter). I get nervous. (Indiscernible).

MR. EATON: (Indiscernible). Thank you (indiscernible).

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you.

 

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