Give youth a chance to lead

by Marcus Alexie

My name is Marcus Alexie and I come from Akiachak, Alaska located about 300 air miles away from Anchorage, Alaska. This past year from April 2016 to 2017 has been a year spent in Akiachak, Alaska after nine years of traveling in and out of Akiachak, spending my time at college both in Bethel, Alaska or Anchorage.

I obtained my Associates Degree in General Studies through Kuskokwim Campus – University of Alaska Fairbanks, not knowing what my favorite field of study would be. I switched back and forth between Biology and English. All my life I never would have considered myself very political, but in fact it was just my denial.

My upbringing revolved around political issues and solutions during my summer breaks or my weekends. Today I sat at our local school gymnasium and wondered what was to become of our village. Why things are the way they are and why situations, problems cannot end in solutions. Questions arose one right after another. And then our Tribal Chief arose and spoke, encouraging our generation and younger generation to get educated and go out there and experience life the western way and bring back what was learned out there to our village to solve problems that concern our tribe.

There I thought, but you; Tribal Council, School Board Members, Regional School Board members, those that have sat on the chair for too long is where we find the issue. This is where our problems began. From what I recall all we have are people that just talk. It’s all talk to you, and you never walk the talk. You want to be recognized so much when we find an answer to a solution, you take the credit for what we fixed.

Not only does the problem start there, but it also starts with those that have worked for our Tribal Governments, our Teacher Aides and our secretaries at the school throughout the years who “encourage” our younger generation to get educated. My generation goes out there, gets educated, experience the westernized society to come back and help rebuild our community. When we try to rebuild our communities you’re afraid to get off your seat and give us a chance to make a change.

The reason I write today is because after I got my associates degree, I came back to wait for a job opening and all I did was be a substitute for the school. No big role, got tired of that and gave Bethel a chance to get more experience. Bethel – people view Bethel as a bad place, but that’s where I learned so much from the people that took the time to be my real-life advisors. My Kuskokwim professors and advisors, my colleagues and bosses have taught me work ethics. Bethel was a great learning experience for my professional careers.

Our Tribal problems do not just end there, it is also the Political environment that I’ve come to realize that is another underlying issue with our villages. Not only in Akiachak, but everywhere revolving around the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. The political environment is not based on who makes sense, who is the smartest and who the best fit person is, but is based on how big a family is. I’ve noticed that our councilmen and board members win based on how big your family is. “Oh my best cousin is running for this seat, I should vote for them,” is the whole concept of village politics. Election votes are never about the right person but always end up being family-based.

These points that I wanted focus on were around the issues about our controlling members of our Tribal Governments, Board Members and even employees of the following companies; local schools, district offices, village corporations.

You’re Tired. Please give our youth a chance to sit where you work, and give us a chance to rebuild our communities. Understand that these are my perceptions on how this part of Alaska works. If I’m wrong, then let this be a learning lesson. Thanks.

1 Comment

  1. What you wrote is not entirely wrong. Usually it is the biggest close families that are elected into tribal government. It was very brave of you to speak out.
    There is one thing I disagree with. We come from a very mixed world, our culture and the western influence brought in which includes schools, churches, and etc. We haven’t found a way to provide more jobs for people who live in villages. There are just not enough enough ways to generate income. Which makes life very difficult for villagers.
    Some people may be still providing for their family and can’t step aside. Some of it may not be the best income but sometimes just a little can help a long way.
    What we need to do is find ways to provide a way for families to provide for themselves. I don’t see any easy solution for that. I went to college, and like you went into general studies. I never made it past that though.
    The villages closer to Bethel are able to get jobs and still boat home for awhile. It costs too much for me to go home often though I do have a seasonal job in Bethel.
    With even more uncertainties with the budget of the state and the nation. I wonder if I’ll have a job. I see positions of my fellow workers not being filled who have moved on. My year shortened. I may have to move completely out of my village to survive in this modern world. Which I find hard to except because I’ve lived here for so long.
    With the education of the younger generation we still haven’t figured out a way to make many jobs available in villages. Maybe someone will think of a way.
    Keep speaking out, talk with those who are in charge. Give advice. We need that from people. It also helps to give a different perspective for them to look at.
    I don’t speak out much, I probably should. I just don’t feel old enough to think of myself as wise. New ideas do need to discussed though. I applaud that you did that.

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