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Testimony

Submitted to the
Alaska Natives Commission
in connection with a hearing at

Nome, Alaska
September 21, 1992

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 | Exhibit List | PDF Version

ALASKA NATIVES COMMISSION
HEARING
Nome, ALASKA
SEPTEMBER 21, 1992

Dazee

(Commissioner Towarak departed meeting.)
(On record at 2:40 p.m.)

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: It is now 2:40. I'm Father Norman Elliott. Sam Towarak had to leave. We now have testimony coming from a Dazee (pronounced as short a and long e).

DAZEE: Dazee (pronounced as short a, then long a), yes.

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: Dazee. If you would please then state your name, and your occupation, and proceed with your testimony.

DAZEE: Thank you. My name is Dazee. I'm the Executive Director for the Bering Strait Economic Council, Inc. I am the Project Director for the Salmonberry Shop, which is an ANA grant, all Native; and we have just gotten the Governor's Exporter of the Year Award for our Eugene Omiak (ph.) Sourdough Factory, our Sourdough Starter, which we ship all over the world.

I'm here concerned on several issues, but I think my main issue is the board members of this Commission are volatile, fighting, neutralizing the strength of this Commission, because they can't get their act together, as I understand it. I have just come from another meeting, and I'm not at liberty to say where I heard this, but it came from very informed sources. We out in the Bush are usually the last to be taken care of, the last to have things happen for us; and we don't need a Commission that's fighting among themselves. We need a cohesive Commission that will help us, will lobby for us, will give us the things that we need up here; because all the time we hear:

"Oh, you're the Bush. You're too hard to deliver to. You're this, you're that, whatever."

So what? If there's going to be a Commission, then it needs to be what it's supposed to be. I would like to see, once your findings and your meetings are done, a plan -- an action plan that's published and is shared with us in the Bush, so we know what you're going to do; and then we want to benchmark you to see that you do it. And I'm sure you'll try, and don't misunderstand me, and this is nothing against your Executive Director, it's just we want to see it really happen. We get these testimonies up here all the time. It's nice; they pat us on the head; they go back to wherever they are; and we don't get anything. That's one of my positions.

Education in the Bush for our students is nothing but social passing. A kid is in school; he doesn't read or write well; he's passed along; he's old -- too old to be in school; he's too big; he's whatever; he's disruptive; so we're not going to educate him; we' re going to pass him through. That's got to stop, and it's got to stop from our school boards, because they allow it to happen. We're very fortunate here in Nome. We have a superintendent by the name of Bob Kenna (ph.) who's addressing our absentee problem in a positive manner. I would like to see more of that done. I would like to stop seeing the White ghettos in villages. The teachers come in they live by themselves; they close the gymnasiums on Tuesdays and Thursdays so they can play basketball. The village can't go. That's wrong. Our village youth need as much interaction on every level with our teachers; so, if they decide to go to college, they don't come out, and they don't know what do do; they aren't homesick; they understand the social issues, how to act, how to behave, how to eat properly and be comfortable in another environment, which is not always the case. And I think, since our teachers are our first line to our youth, that's part of their responsibility.

I'm also hoping that the Commission will take some kind of stand on Native preference in hire. Now I know that gets to be old up here. I'm non-Native. I couldn't get a job when I lived in Shishmaref. It was hard for me to get a job when I came in; but you see these construction companies coming into our villages, and they're constructing this, and they're constructing that, and they're bringing their own crews, which they have a right, via the Supreme Court, and I understand that. But there's got to be some way that we can work with these employers to know prior -- from training programs, to have people that are in the villages be hired. We need that money in these villages. So I'm hoping that the Commission will do something to work towards that and help us in that area.

And then I'm hoping that the Park Service -- please, gentlemen, don' t be mad (laughing) -- at times, they have come into our villages, and they' re much better now about their public meetings and let us -- letting us know they're coming, etcetera; but there was a time when perhaps that wasn't where they were; and I'd just like to see that they're monitored to be sure that that happens.

Like in Shishmaref, we have a piece of land five miles wide. If you look towards the Bering Straits and to the left of the village -- that's how I always do that -- it's five miles, and we'd like to be able to get across it. We can't now. I guess it's impossible -- that' s part of Viringe (ph.), is that -- you know the piece I'm talking about by the village, Ken? (Inaudible response.) Well, if you look at the map, here is Shishmaref, and he's all the pink, and then there's about a five-mile strip on the le --

KEN: Oh, you're talking about that long, narrow strip.

DAZEE: Yeah. And if we could get across that, there's gravel and things, that a gravel-pit possibly could be done. But now we're told that it's environmentally impossible, de da, de da, de da, and so an economic development project is stymied.

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: Okay.

DAZEE: And that's all I have to say.

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: Well, thank you.

DAZEE: Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: And --

DAZEE: Yes?

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: Well, first of all, I think I have to say something to you concerning your hearing that the Commission is fighting among themselves. And I think I can honestly tell you we are not fighting. We do have differences of opinion on some issues; but there's been no storming out of meetings, or anything like that.

DAZEE: I don't think the Commission can afford differences of opinion.

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: Oh, well --

DAZEE: I think you guys should have one common goal and go towards it.

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: That's -- the issue, perhaps, over which we are in disagreement is just that -- how we go about the problem -- not the -- nothing else. For example, there are some of us on the Commission who feels the meetings, rather than being held in Nome, Kotzebue, should be held in, we'll say, Shishmaref, Unalakleet, Fort Yukon, Tanana, you name it. And others on the Commission feel that it would be best to have them in Nome, Bethel, and Kotzebue, and so there’s that area of difference. Now that's the only area that I'm aware of, and we are having Commission -- the Commission will meet again this week, and I don't know of any -- we -- as I say, we've had some differences of opinion on some of the rules that -- under which the Commission's going to operate; but, certainly, not -- I couldn't use the word fighting.

And secondly, yes, we do - - in fact, none of us would be on the Commission if we felt that we were simply going to file a report with Congress that would be printed, put in the official records and forgotten. In fact, in Washington, D.C., we did talk to Senator Inouye, who's --

DAZEE: Right, I know the Senator.

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: -- really responsible for this, and he assured us that action would be taken; because we said:

"We don't want to be on a Commission -- "

There was one, I think, in '79, and you can read the report, and that's about all you can do is just read the report. So I want to assure you that I -- well, I personally would not be on the Commission if I thought that, well, we're just going to write a report, and get our names down in something, and then go home.

Thirdly, it was brought up today about Native preference in hiring, and we are aware of the disaster, you might say, in a sense of the Davis-Bacon Act.

DAZEE: Right.

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: But, at the same time, as one of the testifiers mentioned, it's understandable that, because of the skills necessary on many jobs, the contractor must bring in people --

DAZEE: We understand that --

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: -- from outside.

DAZEE: -- as well, but there are many times when --

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: Yes.

DAZEE: -- they don't.

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: Yes.

DAZEE: More times than not.

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: Yes, I can un -- yes, and that's why -- so, you know, we are aware of that and looking into it.

Now, you're the first person that's mentioned the Park Service, so (laughing) --

DAZEE: (Laughing.) Here I come, the ten-ton gorilla. They sit wherever they want to; but I just hope we can make a chair that they want to sit in, so we can kind of maneuver them in once in awhile.

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: Well, I think they’d be happy to attend any meetings you'd like them to come to. DAZEE: Oh, I think so. There’s a better working relationship than there was.

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: That's grand. Now, of course, I don't know anything about that strip of land you're talking about from Shishmaref; but, as an example -- I mean I think that will help us to see your -- to understand your point of view in that.

I -- you're the first one that's mentioned the White ghettos, and I don't know what the Commission can do about that, you know, to be frank. I --

DAZEE: I think they're doing something about in our region. I talked to Dave Dowling (ph.) -- is that the guy's name from Unalakleet? But he said it wouldn't happen. He promised.

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: Uh-huh (affirmative). I think that's something that the village must confront.

DAZEE: They're not confrontive people.

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: I don' t -- yeah, well --

DAZEE: They're not adversarial. They’re very kind, very passionate, very gentle people.

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: Yes.

DAZEE: And they accept a lot of things that you and I wouldn't accept.

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: Uh-huh (affirmative). But I think, at the same time, out of -- I've heard the testimony today concerning the teach-and what needs to be taught. Now, it would be up to the people themselves to present that, and so I'm just using that --

DAZEE: Sure.

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: -- as an illustration that perhaps the teachers themselves don't realize that there is this ghetto situation; that that's just something that they do, and that they might be willing to rectify if they were made aware that it is --

DAZEE: Well perhaps the Commission can help with that.

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: Well, you've got it -- -

DAZEE: I think that's what we want you guys to do. (Laughing).

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: We've got it down, and it certainly will be considered because you have brought it up.

DAZEE: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. Thank you for your time.

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: And thank you for your time.

DAZEE: Oh, it's my pleasure. It's what -- that's part of my job. Thank you.

MR. IRWIN: Mr. Chairman, before we go off record, I -- there -- I'd like to enter something into testimony. This is on education. It's from Loretta Muktoyuk, who's originally from King Island, now residing in Nome. And I just ask your permission to add this to the record of the hearing.

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: Yes, but introduce yourself, Mike, so that --

MR. IRWIN: Oh, this is Mike Irwin talking.

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: Did you want to read that -- so -- for the benefit of those present?

MR. IRWIN: Oh, okay. (Reads testimony of Ms. Muktoyuk.)

(TESTIMONY OF LORETTA MUKTOYUK ATTACHED AS EXHIBIT #4)

MR. IRWIN: And, again, that's from Loretta Muktoyuk from Nome, who is too bashful to come down. (Pause.)

REPORTER: Mr. Chairman, are we off record at this time?

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: We are off record.

(Off record.)


 

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