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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

Stanton O. Katchatag

(On record at 1:30 p.m.)

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: We're back here at the Nome chambers with the Alaska Natives Commission hearing September 21. It's now 1:30. Beginning our testimony this afternoon is Stanton Katchatag. Stan, if you could, just give us your name and then your affiliation. We will sit and listen.

MR. KATCHATAG: Hold on just a second. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: Sure. (Pause.) I don't know if you're going to say anything, or. . .

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I don't have anything --

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: Okay.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: -- to say, but I could --

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: Okay.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: - - you know, say something.

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: Okay. This morning we heard from 13 people, and it was good to hear from a cross-section of the community, especially the XYZ Center, which we're fortunate to be right next door to, so Stanton?

MR. KATCHATAG: Thank you very much, Sam. Mr. Chairman and members of the Alaska Natives Commission, special guests, visitors, spectators, and everyone else. My name is Stan Katchatag of Unalakleet, Alaska, which I feel is one city are Nome's very close neighbors in this region, which make me feel qualified to participate in this hearing. I have been involved in various organizations, in local, regional, and statewide levels that has been striving to promote and to improve the standard of living in the same categories that this Commission is now seeking to focus on as they undertake to perform the purpose of this task, which is long overdue; but, by all means, necessary and still in demand.

Health, education, economics, governance, and social and cultural matters are, indeed, the core and central demands relevant to all urban and rural societies. Therefore, as one of many identified Native leaders, I express my wholehearted support and blessings as you join our endeavors to establish meaningful and effective services to our people in our environment.

The health of our future will be the result of the mechanism of tomorrow, so we must find ways to stay healthy physically, politically, and spiritually.

The education of our generation will rely on how well we use them. We use and prosper in performing our responsibilities today in this important field, rapidly-changing situations for survival on all walks of life. The achievement in education is like a toolbox and skills of any trade. They must be utilized to perform their purpose. The baseline of economy changes no matter where a person, family, or group chooses to live, along with the changes of time and challenge.

Example, when I was growing up, subsistence -- hunting and trapping, and trading -- were the basic economy. The commercializing of these resources are affecting most people in our region in adverse conditions. I strongly believe change affecting economy should first find alternative to make the demands affecting the economy.

And the same thing applies in governance. Any governing system has people behind who relies to perform in their favor and their lifestyle. And to me this is a reasonable government, because there is no government without the people behind it. And not only are the people behind, but they are the structure. So, to have a strong and affective government, people must be committed to live for and even die for their government, or the government will not stand. I have seen this happen with my own political eyes, and I'm sure you have. That's social and cultural matters are tied in and are the bonds and framework which holds any and all governments together.

Finally, in closing, IRA and Traditional Councils are sovereign not only in nature, but grandparents of all after-born governments, rather recognized or not. We may at times seem ancient, but we are struggling to keep up with the Joneses for the sake of our country and its adopted people and our resources. We are not anti-government. We simply ask fair share in government-to-government relationship with all governments.

Thank you very much, and God bless you all.

(Tape changed to Tape #5.)

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: I would just ask, Stanton, what form of government do you recommend as being the best for your people?

MR. KATCHATAG: Really, I did not give this subject you asked that much thought; but, on the other hand, when I speak of government, I realize that there are different forms of governments that are organized and working for the demands of the people, and for the needs of each community. I realize personally that the municipality or the city form of government within the small communities is also a matter of demand. This is my personal objective, so to speak. The thing that I want to see in, each and every community is for these and other organizations who wish Lo prosper to work together. In my thinking, the IRA or Traditional form of government can be used to meet demands that are not qualified to the city governments. And there are widespread resources or things available to each community that you cannot legally obtain through the IRA governments, and the city governments can take care of those. By that, I think I mean the revenue-sharing and all those state-affecting programs. Does that answer your question?

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: I think you're one of the few that talked on the subject of governance. We're constantly trying to figure out the tribal responsibilities and the federal government's role in protecting the tribal authority that we have all -- even recognizing it. So thanks for your testimony on the need for something like the IRA councils.

I know in the education recommendations that we had, we're looking at the tribal authorities to provide for moneys that would take care of some educational needs that we have, mainly the 13th grade and preschool. If we were to depend on the federal government for funding, that was our recognized way in which we could pass the money down to the local area, and then the IRAs would work jointly with the schools to provide preschool and 13th-grade education, so they are in need of some -- and they are capable of taking on some responsibilities.

MR. KATCHATAG: Thank you very much, Sam. Speaking of education, I have another thing. Might -- I don't have any document in relation to this thing, but I do have a (indiscernible). There was a proposal of Native language -- I cannot get it in terms of how the thing was; but it's to promote the Native language. I must first admit that although I can in fluently speak my own tongue, there are so many, younger people especially, who cannot speak this tongue. And the thing that bothers me most is that, according to qualifications that are in demand for those responsible for teaching our children, are -- does have a danger or a weakness there, because the thing that is one of the demands in obtaining or teaching children in the Native language, and I believe this may be or may not be a statewide matter. Maybe they are better off in some areas; but in our area, this can lead to what I would call slang language. By that, I mean the qualified people cannot speak the Native tongue fluently as they should. On the other hand, those who that can speak fluently does not have the degrees to meet the teaching qualifications that are in each school district system.
(Pause.)

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: Yep, we have what they call alterative certification for them, and that just became a reality this year, so now I guess that's something that you're alluding to then. Okay,thank you, Stanton.

MR. KATCHATAG: Thank you very much. If I' d known that people would be so -- feel like this, I'd a prepared a longer statement. I sure appreciate that you have given us this privilege to present our views to you; and I am looking forward, and I am sure all of the other IRA and Traditional Councils within our region are looking forward to working jointly with your efforts in promoting our way of life throughout the system. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: Thank you Stanton.


 

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