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Posts published in “Day: March 27, 2015”

Natives explore the next 10,000

trahant MARK


What will Alaska look like in 10,000 years? Who will be here? What will they do? And, most important, what will preserved from the past kilennium?

These are not easy questions. Even thinking about the next decade, let alone thousands of years, is interrupted by every crisis that requires attention. There is business to transact. Cell phones buzz. Unanswered emails compound. And, so, we think about the now, not the next.

What if we step back and only think about the future? We turn off our phones, don’t answer email, and ignore interruption.

The First Alaskans Institute recently gathered a group of people together for a week in Bethel to have that very conversation. Elizabeth Medicine Crow said that very idea is a part of the institute’s vision and came from the founding board members. “I think intuitively it makes a lot of sense for Native people. But I also think for most people it’s really hard to wrap their arms around, ‘what does that mean? For 10,000 years.’ It’s really not so much of a mystery for us because we can actually turn around and look directly at our past because we’ve been here for longer than that. We know that as stewards of our time, on behalf of our people, that we have at minimum a trajectory of that much time to look forward to.”

Medicine Crow, who’s president of the institute, said it was a chance to convene a diverse gathering of people who were eager to think deeply about “where we’re going.”

“So it’s not just corporations, it’s not just tribes, it’s not just non-profits, it’s also artists, it’s elders, it’s young people, mothers and fathers, aunties and uncles, storytellers, performers, it was a real mix” she said. “It’s non-hierarchical. So it’s not just people who have a title. Leadership to us is our Native people who are stepping up to help our communities and to help our people.”

Medicine Crow is Tlingit and Haida from Kake. She told a story about a lesson she learned from Polynesian navigators. “The traditional practice of sailing by the stars requires that they set their bow looking forward but they are navigating from the stars behind them because from that they can know the direction their bow is going. I think that is such a powerful analogy about the way our ancestors think about time. And the way we should think about it, too.”

The long story that reflects the Alaska Native experience — or Native America’s for that matter — is mostly about the interruptions from the past century or two. So the current challenges are not the norm, certainly not over a 10,000 year history, but nonetheless require our attention to get back on course.

And some of this course correction requires immediate action. In less than fifteen years, for example, Alaska will have a higher percentage of Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, Hispanics and African Americans than white people. “The state is already super-diverse. It may not look or feel that way depending on where you’re from in the state but as a whole the state is really diverse. As we continue to march through time, especially for Alaska Native populations, most of our population is under the age of 25 and that birth rate is only increasing. So if you apply that to all the other populations, the same thing is happening, plus we’re having so many more people move up. What Alaska will look like on its face is going to be a lot different by the year 2040 than it does today.” (more…)

On the front pages


Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Idaho luring international food processing (Boise Statesman)
Legislature repeals allowance of instant racing (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, Nampa Press Tribune)
State gets bad ethics report (IF Post Register)
State Senate approved teacher pay raise (TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune)
Looking further at Bergdahl case (Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune)
Fewer accidents on Moscow-Pullman road (Moscow News)
A couple of highway bills clear committee (Nampa Press Tribune)

Warrenton dam to be knocked out (Astorian)
New gun background check bill surfaces at Salem (Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Debate ensues over whether UO worker was fired (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath still pursuing local air service (KF Herald & News)
New area Bureau of Reclamation manager sought (KF Herald & News)
Budget panel approves schools budget (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Oregon pot agency director Burns fired (Portland Oregonian)

Night market proposed for downtown Bellingham (Bellingham Herald)
Backlog on park updates in Kitsap (Bremerton Sun)
Marysville fire chief retiring (Everett Herald)
Deal may be set for KapStone labor talks (Longview News)
Longview traffic cams bring in $1 million a year (Longview News)
State auditor inquiry may date to 2013 (Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Olympian)
Tumwater looks at road repair tax increase (Olympian)
Cost of measles control could hit $200k (Port Angeles News)
High prices sending people from King to Pierce (Seattle Times)
Clark Co enrolls 42k in health exchanges (Vanvouver Columbian)