Legislature(2019 - 2020)CAPITOL 106

04/09/2019 08:00 AM House TRIBAL AFFAIRS

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Heard & Held
Heard & Held
              HB 126-ALASKA NATIVE HERITAGE MONTH                                                                           
8:27:00 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR ZULKOSKY announced  that the final order  of business would                                                               
be HOUSE  BILL NO. 126,  "An Act establishing November  as Alaska                                                               
Native Heritage Month."                                                                                                         
8:27:07 AM                                                                                                                    
GRACE  RENEE  SINGH,   Staff,  Representative  Tiffany  Zulkosky,                                                               
Alaska  State Legislature,  introduced herself  as the  committee                                                               
aide for the House Special Committee on Tribal Affairs.                                                                         
8:27:16 AM                                                                                                                    
ANASTASIA   PLEASANT,  Public   Policy  Fellow,   First  Alaskans                                                               
Institute,  introduced herself  as a  participant in  the Senator                                                               
Ted Stevens  Legislative Internship Program at  the University of                                                               
8:27:27 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. SINGH said HB 126 would  establish the month of November each                                                               
year as Alaska Native Heritage  Month, which she explained may be                                                               
observed  by  schools, community  groups,  and  other public  and                                                               
private  agencies and  individuals.   She  continued that  Alaska                                                               
Native   Heritage  Month   may  be   observed  with   appropriate                                                               
activities  to   honor  and  recognize  statewide   and  national                                                               
contributions made by Alaska Natives.                                                                                           
8:27:53 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  PLEASANT said  the purpose  of HB  126 is  to celebrate  and                                                               
recognize  the rich  cultures of  Alaska  Natives throughout  the                                                               
state.   She stated that  Alaska Native people have  occupied the                                                               
land now known as the State of Alaska for thousands of years.                                                                   
8:28:13 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  SINGH stated  that Alaska  Native  cultures, languages,  and                                                               
traditions   significantly   contribute  to   Alaska's   history,                                                               
economy, and diverse  identity.  She said HB  126 would recognize                                                               
Alaska's  unique heritage,  its  cultural  appreciation, and  the                                                               
community relationships that help unify all Alaskans.                                                                           
8:28:31 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  PLEASANT said  HB 126  would formally  acknowledge the  many                                                               
contributions  and  sacrifices, as  well  as  the resilience,  of                                                               
Alaska  Natives.    She  added   that  this  is  something  every                                                               
community, culture, and tradition in Alaska can celebrate.                                                                      
8:28:51 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TALERICO  commended Ms. Singh and  Ms. Pleasant on                                                               
their presentation.                                                                                                             
CHAIR ZULKOSKY opened invited testimony on HB 126.                                                                              
8:29:22 AM                                                                                                                    
LIZ   MEDICINE   CROW,   Director,  First   Alaskans   Institute,                                                               
introduced  herself  in both  English  and  Tlingit, as  well  as                                                               
offered information  about her family  and background.   She said                                                               
it was an honor to testify  before the House Special Committee on                                                               
Tribal  Affairs.     She  expressed  her   appreciation  for  the                                                               
establishment of the committee and  shared that she looks forward                                                               
to its  continued work.  She  said she also looks  forward to the                                                               
committee being made  permanent.  She echoed  Mr. Ivan's previous                                                               
testimony about  the committee being  a medium through  which the                                                               
voices of Alaska Native people can be heard.                                                                                    
MS.  MEDICINE CROW  said  she  supports HB  126  and offered  her                                                               
congratulations to  the committee that  HB 126 is the  first bill                                                               
to  be introduced  by the  committee itself.   On  why HB  126 is                                                               
important, she reflected on first  learning about Native American                                                               
Heritage Month  upon graduating  from high school  in 1990.   She                                                               
recalled feeling  that it was  about time someone  recognized the                                                               
contributions of Native  peoples.  She said she  was surprised to                                                               
learn  that Native  American Heritage  Month  is not  permanently                                                               
established.  She shared her  appreciation that HB 126 would make                                                               
Alaska   Native  Heritage   Month  a   "permanent  structure   of                                                               
celebration    She recalled having  recently been in Sitka during                                                               
a celebration  of the return  of the herring.   She mused  on the                                                               
spiritual connection  between Alaska Natives and  their homeland.                                                               
She said that  connection has to be celebrated and  honored.  She                                                               
opined that  the creation of  an opportunity for all  Alaskans to                                                               
celebrate Alaska  Natives together would  be a good way  to honor                                                               
and lift up Alaska Natives.                                                                                                     
8:33:48 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  MEDICINE CROW  shared that  November  is a  fitting time  to                                                               
celebrate, as  it is when  fall and winter  meet.  She  paused to                                                               
acknowledge that  the Juneau  area is Auke  Kwaan and  Taku Kwaan                                                               
territory.    She explained  that  local  "parties" and  "doings"                                                               
occur in the  winter months after the completion  of the harvest.                                                               
She said this  is why November is a good  fit for celebrating and                                                               
honoring Alaska Native  peoples.  She noted as well  that it is a                                                               
convenient time  for schools, communities, and  other entities to                                                               
put effort into  celebrating the legacy, leadership,  and love of                                                               
Alaska Native people.                                                                                                           
8:35:33 AM                                                                                                                    
PAULETTE  MORENO,  Grand  President,  Alaska  Native  Sisterhood,                                                               
introduced herself in  Tlingit.  She reminded  the committee that                                                               
she  represents  the  Alaska Native  Sisterhood  (ANS)  as  Grand                                                               
President.  She noted that  ANS and the Alaska Native Brotherhood                                                               
(ANB) are the oldest known  civil rights organizations for Native                                                               
people in  the United States  of America.   She said ANS  and ANB                                                               
were among  the first  organizations to  fight for  Native civil,                                                               
spiritual, and land rights, as well  as for resources and ways of                                                               
life.   She expressed appreciation on  behalf of ANB and  ANS for                                                               
the  establishment of  the  committee.   She  commented that  the                                                               
committee room has  been filled not just with  English words, but                                                               
also  with  words in  Native  languages.    She  said, "It  is  a                                                               
reverent time, it is a beautiful time, it is a powerful time."                                                                  
MS. MORENO said  ANS, in equal partnership with ANB,  is in total                                                               
support of  HB 126.   She mused on  the significance of  the bill                                                               
and its  unique opportunity to recognize  Alaska Native heritage.                                                               
She  referenced a  piece  of copper  worn around  her  neck as  a                                                               
symbol of worth -  a "tana."  She said the symbol  of worth of HB
126 would be  a clear articulation by the State  of Alaska of its                                                               
recognition of Native  peoples across Alaska.  She  said it would                                                               
offer  an  opportunity  for  Alaskans   and  other  Americans  to                                                               
celebrate the  diverse culture of  Alaska Natives.  She  mused on                                                               
Alaska Natives  as "caretakers  of this  land" and  discussed the                                                               
ways Alaska Natives  preserve culture and resources.   She opined                                                               
that HB  126 would do more  than just "recognize November."   She                                                               
said  it  would recognize  the  people  who are  "standing  there                                                               
silent no more."  She stated, "We  are not backing down on any of                                                               
our current fights; we are standing up and standing strong."                                                                    
MS.  MORENO   noted  that  2020   will  mark   the  seventy-fifth                                                               
anniversary of the  Alaska Anti-Discrimination Act of  1945.  She                                                               
recognized  the efforts  of  Elizabeth  Wanamaker Peratrovich  to                                                               
secure passage of the act.  Ms.  Moreno said she is sure that Ms.                                                               
Peratrovich and  other organizers  are "in this  room spiritually                                                               
watching  us today."   She  connected HB  126 to  the causes  for                                                               
which Ms. Peratrovich  fought.  She noted that  the United States                                                               
Mint will  distribute coins to  commemorate Ms.  Peratrovich, and                                                               
that the eyes of the nation will  be on Alaska to see how far the                                                               
state  has come.   She  stressed  that the  legislature can  "add                                                               
worth" to the state by passing HB 126.                                                                                          
8:42:13 AM                                                                                                                    
JOE  WILLIAMS,   Grand  President,  Alaska   Native  Brotherhood,                                                               
introduced himself.   He mused on Ms. Moreno's  discussion of Ms.                                                               
Peratrovich and how far Alaska has  come as a state.  He recalled                                                               
past times when  there were signs that read, "no  dogs or Indians                                                               
allowed."   He  spoke about  the power  of the  events that  took                                                               
place  75  years  ago  with  the  passage  of  the  Alaska  Anti-                                                               
Discrimination Act  of 1945.   He expressed total support  for HB
126  on behalf  of ANS  and  ANB.   He echoed  the sentiments  of                                                               
previous speakers.  He relayed that he  is 75 years old.  He said                                                               
that, in  those 75 years, he  has worked diligently to  speak the                                                               
English language  and to follow the  laws of the State  of Alaska                                                               
and  the United  States  of  America.   He  said  that, with  the                                                               
passage of  HB 126, it  would be the responsibility  of committee                                                               
members to  learn to  say "thank  you" in  all the  Alaska Native                                                               
languages.   He taught  committee members to  say "thank  you" in                                                               
Tlingit by having them repeat  "gunalcheesh."  He asked committee                                                               
members  to learn  to  say  "thank you"  in  other Alaska  Native                                                               
languages.   He  thanked  the committee  for  the opportunity  to                                                               
8:45:51 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ORTIZ sought to  recognize the individuals present                                                               
in the  room.  He noted  that Mr. Williams was  formerly mayor of                                                               
Ketchikan Gateway  Borough.  He  commended Mr.  Williams' ability                                                               
to command a  room.  He relayed his appreciation  and support for                                                               
HB 126.                                                                                                                         
8:47:01 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  ZULKOSKY thanked  Ms.  Moreno and  Mr.  Williams both  for                                                               
their testimony.                                                                                                                
8:47:32 AM                                                                                                                    
The committee took a brief at-ease at 8:47 a.m.                                                                                 
8:47:54 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR ZULKOSKY opened public testimony on HB 126.                                                                               
8:48:11 AM                                                                                                                    
IVAN M. IVAN introduced himself  and expressed his support for HB
126.   He asked  that Chair  Zulkosky permit  him to  present his                                                               
testimony in the Yupik language.                                                                                                
CHAIR ZULKOSKY granted his request.                                                                                             
MR. IVAN, before delivering his  prepared testimony, relayed that                                                               
his testimony  is dedicated  to his  grandchildren, so  that they                                                               
can watch  the testimony in  the future  and be proud  that their                                                               
language was spoken in committee and  was respected.  He mused on                                                               
how HB 126  would recognize and celebrate  Alaska Native culture,                                                               
heritage,  and language.   He  said it  is important  that Alaska                                                               
Native children be  proud of themselves and not feel  low or feel                                                               
like failures in times when they  do not achieve their goals.  He                                                               
spoke  of the  importance of  Alaska Natives  being confident  in                                                               
themselves.  He reiterated his support  for HB 126 because of the                                                               
strength and  opportunities it  would create.   He said  it would                                                               
give Alaska Native children an identity  to be proud of and to be                                                               
celebrated.    He reiterated  the  importance  of teaching  young                                                               
people strength and resilience.                                                                                                 
MR. IVAN provided the rest of his testimony in Yupik.                                                                           
8:53:19 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR ZULKOSKY thanked Mr. Ivan  for traveling to Juneau to speak                                                               
about issues  that are important to  him and his community.   She                                                               
thanked  him  as  well  for  "bringing  our  language  into  this                                                               
building."  She thanked him for his testimony.                                                                                  
8:53:49 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR ZULKOSKY,  after ascertaining  that no  one else  wished to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on HB 126.                                                                                     
CHAIR ZULKOSKY  announced that HB  126 would be held  for further                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HR006 Sponsor Statement 4.8.19.pdf HMLV 4/30/2019 1:00:00 PM
HTRB 4/9/2019 8:00:00 AM
HR 6
HB 126 Sponsor Statement 4.9.2019.pdf HTRB 4/9/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB0126 4.9.2019.PDF HTRB 4/9/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 126
HR0006A.PDF HMLV 4/30/2019 1:00:00 PM
HTRB 4/9/2019 8:00:00 AM
HR 6
HR 6 Supporting Document Angapak Testimony.pdf HMLV 4/30/2019 1:00:00 PM
HTRB 4/9/2019 8:00:00 AM
HR 6