Lt. Governor opens leadership conference in Nome
Lt. Governor Byron Mallott addressed the opening session of Kawerak Inc.’s Leadership Summit Tuesday with words which looked forward one hundred years into the future of Alaska.
“When I talk to large groups I often talk about those 100 years,” he said. “The action we take from one year will influence what that 100 years will look like. It seems like a long way away. At the end of the 100 years, I’m not saying I wish or I hope, I’m saying ‘We can.’ ‘We can.’ We have the ability. We will have had four or five Native governors, the majority of them women. We will be in a place where Alaska Native art, our spirituality, where the lives we lead are respected and celebrated. And there is certainty that we’re here to stay.”
“We can’t let others define us,” said Mallott. He mentioned President Trump’s recent remark regarding Puerto Rico “Why don’t you do something for yourselves?”
“That still lingers in our world, the notion that we have not done enough to help ourselves,” he said. “If we grab our XtraTuffs and pull them up by ourselves we‘ll be OK.Until somehow they see us doing that, they have no responsibility for us. It an easy way out, it’s a cop out. And it lingers. What does that mean to us? We have to demonstrate, we have to inspire our leaders to say ‘yes we are doing everything we possibly can in order to advance our own lives.’ That we are working together to make a meaningful difference in our places, in our families, in our lives.”
“In 100 years Alaska will be a truly special place,” he continued. “Because it will be that place in the United States of America, which at that time might well not be the most powerful nation on earth, but will still be, I believe, a beacon of freedom and democracy. And a place that still celebrates individual achievement. And that also is something we need to think about. Because in many ways we lead collective lives. We look to one another. Family, community, region, our people, language groups. Our tribes. Yes, even our churches. That brings us together in a collective way. In 100 years that will shine. We will not be measured simply by the standards of others that say ‘We measure you by your individual success. Who amongst you is the richest? Who has the most stuff? Who amongst you speaks in the loudest voice? Who amongst you is most like us?’
Mallott spoke of how it will be one hundred years from now when Alaska is “a shining beacon to the world.” Alaska’s indigenous people will still be where they’d always been.
“We’ll be all colors of the rainbow but we’ll know inside us that we are Native,” he said. “And we will have values and we will have beliefs and we will have comings together that continue to strengthen us in who we are. And that will be recognized by society as good without question. Because Alaska and America at that point in history can point to Alaskans and say that this is right. They had indigenous people who lived on the land and for two centuries we tried, and we now acknowledge that for two centuries we worked to strip them of all that they were. But they persevered. And they prospered. And they will be recognized as a model. They are among those few indigenous people remaining on this earth who still live on their own lands, who still celebrate who they are, who still speak their own languages. Whose art, and philosophy, and, yes, spirituality form and are part of the overall society. We will be that and more.”
Mallott told how his village Yakutat was for a long time without drums, without dancing.
“But it’s back,” he said. “And it’s been celebrated now for four full decades with knowledge of what the songs are, who they belong to, what they mean.”
Putting on his lieutenant governor hat Mallott discussed the upcoming special session and what the legislature was going to attempt to accomplish. Asked about what might come out of the session her replied that it was absolutely critical to close the financial gap.
“The legislature will have every opportunity. I know that the house and the senate have both passed portions separately and some portions have passed both houses. And now they need to come together and drive it home. The closer we get to an election year in 2018 the more difficult it is likely to become. That’s one of the reasons the governor called this special session. I’m not making a prediction but I’m hopeful because it has to be done.”
The Leadership Summit 2017 continues at Nome’s Covenant Church through Friday.