Open Letter to Governor Bill Walker, Lt. Governor Byron Mallot, Federal and State Lawmakers, Native Organizations, and their Legal Advisors, Village and Tribal Leaders

I listen to the radio station KYUK at Bethel, AK. The main topic of the Yup’ik and English talk shows is alcohol and the problems and hardship it is causing to Bethel and surrounding Yukon and Kuskokwim villages.

There are over 200 villages in the State of Alaska that are Local Option Law communities. They are either dry, damp or wet communities under the Local Option Law. In dry villages the law prohibits importation and possession, but it is legal to consume alcohol in your own home, in a dry village.

The Local Option Law has been in existence for over 40 years. The law is not being enforced by the State of Alaska, only when problems and hardships occur. Not stopping importation and possession, which are happening every day.

As United States of America citizens, it is a privilege to consume alcohol in our own homes, just as it is a privilege to have a firearm in your home. Here in America we say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Under the Local Option Law we are prohibited from freely importing and possessing alcohol. Instead we are criminally import and possess, unlike free Americans.

Many people in dry villages import by boats, sno-gos, four-wheeler, truck and cars, aircraft, even by walking. Some people from coastal villages are charged with send/bring alcohol to dry village.

In the liquor stores we use our State of Alaska issued identifications and/or drivers license to legally purchase alcohol. When they are reprimanded at the Bethel airport for importation with common air carrier and alcohol is confiscated, are their civil rights violated? There is no liberty and justice in the Local Option Law.

When the Bethel voters voted to go from damp to wet under the Local Option Law, any individual from Bethel could order as much alcohol as they wanted. These bootleggers stock pile their homes and secret places with cases and cases of alcohol.

The Bethel voters legalized bootlegging. Many of them have become millionaires without having to pay federal taxes. It is called tax evasion. Many of these bootleggers have left Bethel to their native countries, i.e. Albania, South Korea, etc. bringing their millions of dollars.

When the Bethel liquor stores opened it gave access to cheaper bottles that people could afford, other than what bootleggers charge. Many of these people come from dry villages. Some of these people have perished through alcohol, even my uncle’s body has not been located. Too much hardship and problems.

I am in support of Napaskiak, AK’s resolution for you Governor Bill Walker. To call an emergency order to close the liquor stores at Bethel. I ask you Gov. Bill Walker, with your executive power to call an emergency ban on all alcohol importation to Bethel. Business and personal. I ask you and the Alaska lawmakers to eliminate Local Option Law which has not been enforced since it became law.

If nothing is done about these hardships and problems, I ask our native organizations and legal advisors, village and tribal leaders, to ask the question of liabilities. Is the State of Alaska, the hub community of Bethel liable for these hardships and problems?

Other entities would be included, i.e. liquor store in Anchorage, air carriers, etc. These organizations are making millions of dollars in sales taxes on account of problems of alcoholism of Local Option villages. The State of Alaska, City of Bethel, and other entities should be held accountable.

If the ban on alcohol to Bethel does come into effect and the Local Option Law is eliminated, people from any village could get on a plane to Bethel, a jet plane to Anchorage, get their supply of booze and go back to their villages without fear of being reprimanded at the Bethel airport.

The Federal and State authorities need to investigate bootleggers, how many people in the dry villages are in jail, how much money was used for incarceration. Many more questions to investigate.

Money is involved in alcohol. Money is the root of all evil. Less alcohol would mean less law enforcement during State revenue shortfall.

I will get negative feedback from people, but the hardships outweigh the feedbacks. I am not worthy, forgive me. I thank those that write and voice their alcohol concerns in the Delta Discovery and KYUK.

I wish everyone a Happy Easter, April 1, 2018. May God bless us all, in peace…

Robert W. Lake
Akiak, AK

Alaska is diverse

Alaska is one of the most diverse states in our country, and we need a representative in Congress who can connect with Alaska’s diverse population. As a young immigrant kid growing up in the Fairview neighborhood of Anchorage, I was immersed in our diverse community and culture.

While attending West Anchorage High School it was easy to see that our country has a proud tradition of welcoming all people regardless of race, ethnicity and religion. Looking back on that time I can proudly say that I had classmates, teammates, and friends who were from just about every race, ethnicity and social economic status. This ingrained in me the appreciation that although we may come from very different backgrounds, beliefs and cultures, we are all Americans.

Later while operating my CPA business I traveled all over rural Alaska, and had the opportunity to learn more about the traditional Alaska Native values, and about daily challenges Alaskans are facing in our villages. My experience growing up in a diverse environment, and raising a family here in Alaska has taught me the true value of diversity in our state. Alaska’s cultural diversity is a real strength from which we can draw many valuable ideas to build a prosperous future. I will be honored to listen to and build upon these ideas when given the opportunity to represent all Alaskans in Washington DC.

Dimitri Shein
Anchorage, AK