Love and Community

Hello Delta Discovery,

– IN the most recent FORUM, The Magazine of the Alaska Humanities Forum (Summer 2020), reading from an article informed by Don Rearden’s book, The Raven’s Gift, Joe Yelerton quoted Mr. Rearden (a past High school teacher in Bethel) as saying: “I also hope that the biggest takeaway from my book would be that what matters in life is love and community.” However, he further states, from the interview between he and Mr. Yelverton: “We already had a crisis here long before COVID-19. The number one killer of youth in Alaska is suicide. Our youth are choosing death over a future in this state…”

For myself, with having served as an Artist- in- the- School throughout Alaska, during the years of 1977-2014, caring about creativity, expressiveness, and whether through native arts or other ways for meaning, this breaks my heart to read. LOVE AND COMMUNITY! Such a sadness rings when I read that statement.

At this time of year, seeing photographs through Facebook, of youth fishing, going berry picking, and the many covers of Delta Discovery with children holding fish! May there be an ease and a significant change for the better, such that this statement will become invisible and be no longer the case. May youth discover deep meaning and choose life—Celebrating your beautiful land, your beautiful home: Alaska! With kind regards always,

Patricia Bulitt

Project Director: Their Eyes Have Seen The Old Dances: Honoring Elder Hooper Bay Dancers and Drummers (1981-2001)

BBNC Statement on Donald Trump Jr.’s Opposition to Pebble Mine

Donald Trump Jr. confirmed what Alaskans have known for decades: the proposed Pebble mine has no place in Bristol Bay. We appreciate and share his enthusiasm for Bristol Bay and its incredible fisheries. The Final EIS for Pebble makes clear that the proposed mine will severely impact thousands of acres of wetlands and hundreds of miles of streams. These are unacceptable impacts for a region that supplies half of the world’s commercial wild sockeye salmon harvest and is a bucket list fishing destination for thousands of anglers each year.

We encourage President Trump and his administration to listen to the science and the diverse voices who oppose Pebble mine and deny the project a Clean Water Act permit.

For centuries, Bristol Bay’s lands and natural resources have been the basis for our culture and way of life. Help us keep Bristol Bay the subsistence stronghold, commercial fishing powerhouse, and sportsmen’s destination that it is.

Bristol Bay Native Corporation

Anchorage, AK

Murkowski on Rural Health and Telehealth Executive Order

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) made the following statement after President Trump signed an Executive Order on Improving Rural Health and Telehealth Access:

Improving access to quality, affordable health care has always been a priority of mine. For a rural state like Alaska, telehealth has been a crucial technology utilized in helping fill that gap and deliver care. I thank the Trump administration for taking these steps aimed at expanding telehealth and finding new ways of covering the costs of rural health care. In Alaska, telehealth has been vital for some time, but the coronavirus pandemic has created a new normal and certainly fueled that need. Now, telehealth goes beyond creating greater access—it’s also creating safer access. I appreciate the administration’s directed focused, particularly on telehealth, reimbursement, mental health and maternal health. I look forward to reviewing the plans that will come as a result of this Executive Order.

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski

Washington, D.C.

Why Alaska Needs Ranked Choice Voting

Alaska has the highest percentage of registered independents in the country, yet our general election candidates almost always have a big R or D next to their names. Why is that? It is because the current system we use to elect officials doesn’t give independent voters a viable option.

One proposed solution is to implement ranked-choice voting statewide. Opponents of ranked-choice argue that it would make voting too “confusing” for the average voter, thus decreasing turnout. In reality, their genuine opposition comes from the realization that the two-party stranglehold on Alaska politics could finally come to an end, and that a system more representative of the people would replace it.

Over the past couple of months, there’s been a debate going on over Ballot Measure 2, which would implement a ranked-choice system statewide. Leaders from both the Democratic and Republican parties have criticized the measure. For example, former Gov. Sean Parnell, a Republican, and former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat — in the interest of full disclosure, I am Sen. Begich’s son — wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal criticizing the fact that with ranked-choice, if you don’t rank more than one candidate, your vote doesn’t count if they get eliminated.

The problem with this argument is that under our current system, if your first choice doesn’t have a big D or R next to their name, your vote often doesn’t count regardless of who your second or third choice may be.

Ranked-choice would help to end the “spoiler effect,” which occurs when too many voters choose a third-party candidate, resulting in a loss for their more mainstream “tolerable” candidate. This is the problem establishment Democrats and Republicans have with the measure: They lose control of the process. Without this manufactured issue, the big parties can’t guilt-trip the electorate into sucking it up and voting for one of their pre-approved candidates.

A growing number of Alaskans have become fatigued with the duopoly that exists in our politics. Voter turnout in our statewide elections is depressingly low. Our low turnout is a result of voters feeling cornered into choosing between two candidates that they don’t wholeheartedly support. The only realistic chance independents have at voting for a candidate of their choice is in the Democratic primary, the only primary open to independent candidates.

As a result, independents, who consist of a diverse set of backgrounds and views, have to compete with like-minded liberals in the primaries. This predicament almost always means that independents get no candidate on the ballot in November. Ranked-choice voting would create a more open playing field for candidates to compete in, allowing the largest voting bloc in our state to get a fair shot in the general election, and thus likely increasing voter turnout.

There are very few occasions in which both Democrats and Republicans can agree on something. Not surprisingly, their staunch opposition to ranked-choice transcends partisan boundaries because it poses a threat to their control over the voting process. Ballot Measure 2 will transfer power from the party establishment to the voters. Times are changing; people are getting fed up with the status quo of our political landscape.

In November, we have a chance to show the parties that we want more control over who gets elected. For the sake of our democracy, vote yes on Ballot Measure 2.

Jacob Begich is an election reform activist and a freshman at Georgetown University and is part of the next generation of Alaskans in support of ranked-choice voting. He is the son of former U.S. senator and Anchorage mayor Mark Begich.

Anchorage, Alaska

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