WHERE IT BEGAN
THE STEPS ALONG
The Alaska Natives Commission was created by Congress in 1990 at the urging of Alaska Native groups. The idea of creating a high profile, authoritative commission emerged from the Alaska Federation of Natives' report on the status of Alaska Natives, A Call to Action, published in January 1989.
Support for creation of the Commission was solidified in the spring of 1989 when Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) discussed at a public hearing his findings from a trip to Alaska the year before to meet with Alaska Natives and learn about conditions in rural Alaska.
". . . we visited several Native villages and regional centers in Alaska over a five-day period. Our schedule was a full one, and the experience was one that I shall never forget, " he said.
"For example, I will never forget the standard government-designed houses that have only one door houses that are at least six feet from the ground and windows that are at least 10 or 15 feet from the ground. With no other means of exit, and with the stoves being located in the entry room, should there be a fire in one of these houses, people would be trapped in the back rooms, or often forced to jump through these windows and break their bones. Children and elderly residents would almost certainly incur injuries if they were forced to escape from these windows."
Inouye also discussed educational programs as well as high rates of incarceration among Natives.
"I will not soon forget talking to a village administrator who told me she graduated as valedictorian of her class, and when she went off to college, she had to spend one year doing remedial work so that she could compete academically with other students.
"And obviously I will always remember the prison facilities that are filled with Native prisoners, most of them detained because of alcohol-related behavior. I will remember the high rates of recidivism and alcohol-related crimes," he said.
When Congress created the Commission, it was directed to conduct a comprehensive study of:
- The social and economic status of Alaska Natives.
- The effectiveness of the policies and programs of the United States and of the State of Alaska that affect Alaska Natives.
The Commission also was directed to conduct public hearings and to recommend specific actions to Congress and the State of Alaska that:
- Help to assure that Alaska Natives have life opportunities comparable to other Americans, while respecting their unique traditions, cultures, and special status as Alaska Natives.
- Address the needs of Alaska Natives for self-determination, economic self-sufficiency, improved levels of educational achievement, improved health status, and reduced incidence of social problems.
The Commission's first meeting was held in February 1992. Within months, staff had been hired and five task forces had been named to gather information on economics, education, governance, health, and social/cultural issues.
Mary Jane Fate of Fairbanks and Perry R. Eaton of Anchorage were named co-chairs of the Commission.
Other Commissioners include Edgar Paul Boyko of Anchorage, Johne Binkley of Fairbanks, Father Norman Elliott of Anchorage, Beverly Masek of Willow, Martin B. Moore of Emmonak, Frank Pagano of Anchorage, John W. Schaeffer, Jr., of Kotzebue, Father James A. Sebesta of St. Mary's, Walter Soboleff of Tenakee Springs, Morris Thompson of Fairbanks, and Sam Towarak of Unalakleet.
Francis E. Hamilton of Ketchikan served on the Commission until her death September 27, 1992.
Nine regional hearings were held by the Commission, including:
Fairbanks, July 18, 1992
Bethel, August 20-21, 1992
Nome, September 21, 1992
Klawock, October 24, 1992
Barrow, February 24, 1993
Dillingham, March 2-3,1993
Kodiak, May 22,1993
Kotzebue, October 2, 1993
Copper Center, October 9, 1993
In addition, statewide hearings were held during the Alaska Federation of Natives Conventions October 14-17, 1992, and October 14, 1993.
Task forces held special regional hearings, and among them were:
Completing the Work
In some ways the Commission's final report is just the beginning of a new era for the Alaska Native community. When it becomes widely available, the most important step will be for Native groups, organizations, and even individuals to get behind the implementation process and make sure that the recommendations of the report are carried forward.
Mike Irwin, Commission Executive Director, said he has a lot of faith that people will not stop with the publication of the report but that they will work hard to make the needed changes.
"The Commission's work has been a massive undertaking," he said. "I'm convinced that this effort will not be wasted because I know people will get behind it and push for the changes that are needed in federal and state government policies."
The comprehensive study of the social and economic status of Alaska Natives was undertaken by 13 people, six of whom were appointed by the President of the United States and seven of whom were appointed by the Governor of Alaska.
PERRY R. EATON
Co-Chair Perry Eaton, a Koniagmuit, is president and chief executive officer of Alaska Village Initiatives, formerly the Community Enterprise Development Corporation.
Born in Kodiak, Mr. Eaton has had a lifetime relationship with rural Alaska through his connections with commercial fishing, Native issues, finance, and business. He has devoted most of his adult life to promoting rural economic development. As the president of Alaska Village Initiatives, he has successfully guided the full range of activities of this nonprofit corporation which is designed to strengthen Alaska's rural economies.
In addition to Mr. Eaton's early experience on the Kodiak purse seine fishing fleet, his professional career started with Seattle First National Bank. He later worked for two other banks as well as the Alaska Native Foundation. Mr. Eaton has served on a number of national and state boards.
He and his wife have two children.
He said a major role as co-chair was to help ensure that the Alaska Natives Commission produced a timely, quality report on budget. And he said it will be a "quality report" if it fairly represents a variety of views on creating changes that support Native peoples' expectations.
"The fundamental problem is expectations are not being met at any level," Mr. Eaton says. "I see the task of the Commission as bridging the gap to meet those expectations. It means efficiency in government; it means realistic expectations on the part of recipients. And it means safeguarding the integrity of culture."
MARY JANE FATE
Co-Chair Mary Jane Fate, who resides in Fairbanks, was raised in traditional Athabascan ways in and around the village of Rampart and is a graduate of Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka. A grandmother, she and her husband raised four children.
She is past president and CEO of her village corporation and is a former Co-Chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives. She has been involved in Alaska Native issues since high school. She is a founding member and past president of the Fairbanks Native Association, the Tundra Times, the Institute of Alaska Native Arts, and the North American Indian Women's Association. She currently serves on the University of Alaska Board of Regents and the board of the Alaska Air group.
Ms. Fate recently received an honorary doctorate of law degree from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
"I express my heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the members of the Alaska Natives Commission and members of the task forces for coming up with a report which we hope will be in the best interest and well-being of the Alaska Native people."
She said people got involved in the Commission's work, bringing out information on unmet needs as well as suggestions for changes that will make programs work for Alaska Natives in the areas of health, education, economics, and social needs.
Co-Chair Fate says that, above all else, the Commission focused on the needs of people.
"If the world can make drastic changes overnight for rights for animals, bugs, and even future fashion styles, we surely must and can make great changes for our Alaska Natives," she says.
Johne Binkley is currently the chief executive officer of Alaska Riverways in Fairbanks, and he is a riverboat captain licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard. Before moving to Fairbanks, Mr. Binkley was the owner of Northwest Navigation, a tug and barge business headquartered in Bethel.
He served in the Alaska House of Representatives in 1985-86, then was elected to the Alaska State Senate, where he served as co-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee for four years. He also served on a number of other committees and panels targeting the issues of high seas salmon interception, children and youth, suicide prevention, and school performance.
Johne Binkley was instrumental in the passage of local option alcohol laws during his tenure in the Alaska House.
He and his wife have four children.
One of his main concerns, he says, is that programs for Alaska Natives have turned into what amounts to an industry.
"The amount of money that is spent at the federal, state, and local levels in the name of programs to assist Alaska Natives is staggering," he said. "But one of the problems that I see is that a relatively small portion of that money actually gets out to the average person living in a village in Alaska. A huge amount is eaten up in the bureaucracy."
Another concern of Mr. Binkley's throughout the life of the Commission was that final recommendations target key areas where substantive policy changes have the potential of doing the most good for Natives.
EDGAR PAUL BOYKO
Edgar Paul Boyko, who was born in Vienna, Austria, has been involved in Alaska Native issues for many years. He is a former state special counsel for Alaska Native land claims. In addition, his work has been undertaken in many other areas and states. Since 1989, he has been a senior partner in the law firm of Boyko, Breeze & Flansburg in Anchorage.
In Alaska, he served as Attorney General during 1967-68 and as Regional Chief Counsel of the Federal Bureau of Land Management (Alaska Region).
Mr. Boyko and his wife raised five children, four of whom are still living. They have seven grandchildren.
Well known for being outspoken, Mr. Boyko's writings are widely published, including the Anchorage Daily News, the Alaska Business Magazine, and other publications. He is the host of a popular radio talk show in Anchorage.
Mr. Boyko says there is a standard of living such as health care and education that Americans expect. And he says, these, to this day, "are denied to many, many Native communities and many Native people."
FATHER NORMAN H.V. ELLIOTT
The Venerable Norman H.V. Elliott, who has been in Alaska since 1951, said the most exciting aspect of the Alaska Natives Commission is the fact that its purpose was not to dictate answers from the top down.
"The Native people themselves being well aware of the problems have offered solutions," he said.
When Commissioner Elliott came to Alaska he was named minister-in-charge of St. Mark's Episcopal Mission at Nenana, a church and boarding home for Native children, and St. Barnabas' Mission, Minto. He also was priest-in-charge of St. Stephen's Mission and Hudson Stuck Memorial Hospital at Fort Yukon from 1952-1953.
From 1953 to 1958 he served as the Missioner and Archdeacon of the Yukon in charge of missions at Eagle, Circle, Chalkyitsik, Arctic Village, Venetie, Beaver, and Stevens Village. After serving as rector of St. John's Church in Ketchikan, he was rector of All Saints' Episcopal Church in Anchorage from 1962 to 1990. He is now retired and serving as Archdeacon of Southcentral Alaska.
He and his wife have three children.
In the past, people seeking to solve problems facing the Native community have either simply provided funding or inappropriate solutions, such as poorly designed housing, he said.
"Instead of letting the people design the houses, the government did it," he said.
Father Elliott believes the Alaska Natives Commission has taken the opposite approach, truly listening to suggestions from Alaska Natives themselves.
Beverly Masek, an Athabascan Indian, is originally from Anvik, and she currently is an internationally known dog musher who has attempted the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race four times and also has raced in Europe.
She is the operator and owner of Masek Racing Kennels in Willow, where she specializes in Alaska Athabascan Indian village dog development.
In order to meet her mushing goals, she has had to overcome difficult odds in the past. In February 1990, all American slots were filled for a sled dog race at St. Moritz, Switzerland. Ms. Masek promptly registered to represent Czechoslovakia, her husband's native country. She later was honored by Czechoslovakian President Havel for her efforts in the race.
Ms. Masek also participated in a demonstration sled dog race as part of the opening ceremonies for the 1992 Winter Olympic Games in France.
Before moving to Willow, Ms. Masek and her husband owned and operated an Anchorage restaurant, and they later managed the Chena Hot Springs resort and hotel. They have one child.
"Being self-reliant and not dependent upon the state and federal governments is far beyond reach," she says. "Pride, self-esteem, and confidence need to be brought back to the people throughout the state."
Ms. Masek has a special interest in the education of Native youth. She fears that too many Native young people are not being prepared to meet the challenges of today's changing world.
MARTIN B. MOORE, SR.
Martin B. Moore, a Yupik Eskimo from Emmonak, has been a member of the Board of Directors for Emmonak Corporation for 19 years and currently serves as its president.
Prior to his presidency of Emmonak Corp., Mr. Moore was the city manager for Emmonak. He also has served as president of Calista Corporation, the regional ANCSA corporation for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta area in Southwest Alaska.
Commissioner Moore served in the Alaska House of Representatives in the early 1970s and has said that he has worked to help all Alaskans, regardless of partisan politics. As an example, he pointed to the fact that he sponsored the longevity bonus for elder Alaskans.
He said his top priority in the Legislature was education, but he also worked for better communications and was instrumental in the startup of public broadcasting in Bethel.
Mr. Moore has served on the Emmonak City Council, and he was mayor in 1968-69.
Mr. Moore and his wife have five children and are grandparents.
He says that although social issues were major topics of discussion over the course of this Commission, "I think we found that many of our solutions have to be economic ones. I encourage people to take a hard look at the many benefits that our communities may derive from a position favoring more economic development opportunities."
Frank Pagano is president of Koniag, Inc., an Alaska Native regional corporation representing about 3,400 shareholders originally from Kodiak.
A Kodiak Aleut, Mr. Pagano has grown up dealing with the problems common to Alaska Natives. Like many, he was born into a poor family living at the edge of the Alaska wilderness. His father was a fisherman who established his family in a small village on Unga Island.
Mr. Pagano left Kodiak at age 14 to attend the Bureau of Indian Affairs High School in Eklutna Village, near Anchorage. He credits the BIA with giving him, like many other young Alaska Natives, a basic education.
Mr. Pagano served in the U.S. Army, and was a member of the Elite Third Airborne Ranger Company and fought in the Korean Conflict.
Upon discharge from active service, he worked in Kodiak for 15 years as a utility crewman, fisherman, and policeman. He also served in the Army National Guard and the Federal Aviation Administration. He is currently retired from both the Guard and the FAA.
He became president of Koniag, Inc., in 1984 and has held that position ever since. He and his wife have three children.
"I believe our young people are caught between two cultures," he said, "one they can't go back to because they don't know how, and one that discriminates against them." He added, however, that young Natives who succeed can find ways to fit into the modem world while at the same time taking pride in and appreciating their heritage.
He said he believes that the work of the Alaska Natives Commission can make a difference by suggesting policy changes to redirect the millions of dollars currently going into programs that are not working.
JOHN W. SCHAEFFER, JR.
John Schaeffer was the adjutant general for the Alaska National Guard and Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs from December 1986 to February 1990.
He was born in 1939 in Kotzebue. After attending Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka, he began his military career as a private with the First Scout Battalion, Alaska Army National Guard. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1958. A graduate of the Army command and General Staff College, Mr. Schaeffer is airborne and special forces qualified.
Mr. Schaeffer has held a number of civic and business positions. He was mayor of the Northwest Arctic Borough when it was created, served as president of the NANA Regional Corporation for 14 years, and has served as a University of Alaska regent.
Currently, he is a board member of the National Bank of Alaska, and recently served as chairman of the Alaska Federation of Natives.
He and his wife have eight children and 22 grandchildren.
Mr. Schaeffer says that Alaska Natives from throughout the state have participated in the Alaska Natives Commission's efforts, offering their views on problems and policies affecting them.
Many current programs are not working, and yet people working in them are generally trying to do a good job and can be defensive when it comes to finding solutions, he said.
"That was the hard part," he said. "We had to find a way to stand apart from the process."
FATHER JAMES A. SEBESTA
Father James Sebesta was born in Binghamton, N.Y., and grew up in Norwich, N.Y.
He said he always had an interest in flying and took a job at the airport in Norwich when he was 14 in order to be able to take flying lessons. Today he is an accomplished Alaskan pilot.
He received his bachelor's degree in philosophy from Fordham University in New York City in 1962 and his master's degree in physics from the same university in 1964. He earlier had studied physics at Tufts University near Boston before entering the priesthood in 1958. He is a member of the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits.
His first assignment in Alaska was to teach science and math at the Copper Valley School near Glennallen. He also taught in the Upward Bound Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Besides his work with parishioners, he was area director for the Jesuit Volunteer Corps from 1972 to 1982. He taught at St. Mary's from 1982 to 1984. Since 1991 he has been a priest for several lower Yukon River villages.
Father Sebesta said the fact that all of his work in Alaska has been in rural areas prepared him for serving on the Alaska Natives Commission.
He said his main goal as a Commission member was to encourage programs to restore healthy life for Native people. Throughout his years in Alaska, he said he has seen the deterioration of many people's lifestyle.
"There are many problems suicide, teen pregnancy, alcoholism, violence," he said. "We have attempted to find the best answers."
WALTER A. SOBOLEFF
Well known for many years as a Tlingit leader, Walter Soboleff has focused his attention on both the spiritual and the physical needs of his people.
He was ordained into the Alaska Presbytery in 1940, after receiving degrees from the University of Dubuque in Dubuque, Iowa. Commissioner Soboleff was born in Killisnoo in Southeast Alaska of Tlingit-Russian-German parentage. He has four children.
Throughout his long career, Mr. Soboleff has held many positions. He said he returned home after graduating from college to serve all races and learned the culture of his people, the Tlingit Indians, including the language.
Mr. Soboleff has held many local, statewide, and national positions, including seven terms as president of the Grand Camp of the Alaska Native Brotherhood. He served as chairman of the Alaska State Board of Education for two years and was treasurer of the Tlingit and Haida Central Council, among many others.
Mr. Soboleff also is the author of several publications, including his Bachelor of Divinity thesis, "Historic Origin of the Cross."
If the Alaska Natives Commission succeeds in its efforts, Mr. Soboleff said, there will be changes in school curricula as well as more economic development throughout rural Alaska.
He said he believes the Commission met its mandate from the state and federal governments to come up with solutions and that the report won't just get shelved.
Morris Thompson is an Athabascan, born and raised in the Yukon River village of Tanana. He has had a colorful and successful career in both the public and private sectors.
He served as special assistant to the Secretary of the Interior in the Nixon Administration, and at age 34, he became the youngest Commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Mr. Thompson is a former president of the Alaska Federation of Natives, founding vice president of Commonwealth North, and past co-chairman of AFN.
Employed by Doyon Limited since 1981, Mr. Thompson was initially hired as vice president. In October 1985, he was appointed its President and Chief Executive Officer. He and his wife have three daughters, and they make their home in Fairbanks.
He said his principal focus on the Commission has been to hear from individual Alaska Natives, affording as many people as possible an opportunity to be heard.
"I believe we have come up with some unique recommendations that can and will be acted on by the Legislature, the Administration, and the Congress," he said.
Mr. Thompson said it's a bit early to predict how successful the results of the Commission's work will be, but he said he believes that the Commission focused on what can and needs to be done about problems. He is pleased that much of the testimony and ideas came from the grassroots of the Alaska Native community.
Currently serving as assistant superintendent for the Bering Strait School District, Sam Towarak said much of his attention is on education.
Mr. Towarak received his master's degree in school administration from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in May 1981. In 1972, he received his bachelor's degree in secondary education from UAF.
He was Campus President at the Chukchi Community College in Kotzebue. He has been employed by the Bering Strait School District since 1984.
In 1989, he was selected as the AFN Educator of the Year, which he credits to his wife Nita and their three children, Elaine, Sam Jr. and Aaron.
Mr. Towarak said he has always been particularly concerned about developing programs for Native children before they even begin their formal education, including prenatal care.
There currently is too little attention on the preschool years, he said.
"Why do people look at a child in kindergarten and say we've already decided he won't be a success?" he asked. "Why can't we eradicate that thought?"
He said he also is concerned with the social problems facing villages and with economic development in rural Alaska. But he is optimistic about villages and about what Native people are capable of accomplishing.
Mr. Towarak said that as a member of the Commission his goal was to work hard to make sure the final report is not put on policymakers' desks to collect dust.
"Let's get something done. I really think we can," he said.
1. Napoleon, Harold, "Yuuyaraq: The Way of the Human Being," Center for Cross-Cultural Studies, College of Rural Alaska, University of Alaska Fairbanks, December 1991, p.19.
2. Fienup-Riordan, Ann, "Cultural Change and Identity Among Alaska Natives: Retaining Control," Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, April 1992, pp.4-5.
3. Fienup-Riordan, pp.2-11.
4. Napoleon, p.10; Fienup-Riordan, pp.4-5.
5. Minerals Management Service, U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Technical Paper No. 151, "Social Indicators Study of Alaskan Coastal Villages," Anchorage, Alaska, August 1992, p.294.
6. Minerals Management Services, p.294.
7. Fienup-Riordan, p.4.
8. Nelson, William Edward, "Eighteenth Annual Report of American Ethnology," Washington, D.C., Government Printing Office, 1899, p.270.
9. Minerals Management Service, pp.79-84.
10. Fienup-Riordan, p.5.
11. Minerals Management Service, p.379.
12. Fienup-Riordan, p.5.
13. Fienup-Riordan, Ann, "The Real People and the Children of Thunder: The Yup'ik Eskimo Encounter with Moravian Missionaries John and Edith Kilbuck," University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma, 1991.
14. Fienup-Riordan (1992), p.5.
15. Ducker, James H., "Curriculum for a New Culture: Federal Schooling at Bethel and Along the Kuskokwim," Bureau of Land Management, Anchorage, Alaska, 1991.
16. Quoted in Darnell, Frank, "Alaska's Dual Federal-State School System: A History and Descriptive Analysis," Ed.D. dissertation, Wayne State University, 1970 microfilm (University Microfilms 71-396), p.99.
17. Darnell, p.208.
18. Rogers, George W., "The Cross-Cultural Economic Situation in the North: The Alaska Case," Paper presented at the Conference on Cross-Cultural Education in the North, Montreal, 1969, cited in Fienup-Riordan (1992), p.8.
19. Jones, Dorothy M., "Aleuts in Transition," University of Washington Press, Seattle, Washington, 1980, cited in Minerals Management Service, p.381.
20. Minerals Management Service, p.296.
21. Alaska Federation of Natives, "The AFN Report on the Status of Alaska Natives: A Call for Action," Anchorage, Alaska, January 1989, p.2.
22. Fienup-Riordan (1992), p.9.
23. Gorsuch, Lee, "2(c) Report: Federal Programs and Alaska Natives," 1976, Task I, p.9.
24. Alaska Federation of Natives, p.65.
25. Statistics for Alaska Natives living in Alaska include small numbers of other Native Americans living in Alaska.
26. Alaska Department of Labor, Alaska Population Overview (Juneau: Alaska Department of Labor, 1992), pp.26-27.
27. Alaska Department of Labor, Alaska Population Overview (Juneau: Alaska Department of Labor, 1992), pp.38-39.
28. Alaska Department of Labor, Alaska Population Overview (Juneau: Alaska Department of Labor, 1992), p.1.
29. Alaska Department of Labor, Alaska Population Overview (Juneau: Alaska Department of Labor, 1992), p.39.
30. Alaska Department of Labor, Alaska Population Overview (Juneau: Alaska Department of Labor, 1992) p.39; Alaska Department of Labor, Population Projections Alaska 1990-2010 (Juneau: Alaska Department of Labor, November 1991), p.13.
31. Alaska Department of Labor, Demographics Unit, Alaska Population Projections 1990-2010 (Juneau: Alaska Department of Labor, 1991), pp.30-31.
32. U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, Bureau of the Census, 1990 Census of Population and Housing, Summary Social, Economic, and Housing Characteristics Alaska, 1990 CPH-5-3 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, April 1992), Table 11.
33. The Commission chose not to use arbitrary population figures in describing villages and in making "rural" and "urban" distinctions. Rather, characteristics such as Natives as a percentage of overall population, transportation links and modes, predominant cultural lifeways, and social and economic infrastructures were the principal bases for determining these designations.
34. In outlining the broad geographic configurations for discussing Alaska Native issues and problems relative to different areas of Alaska, the principal U.S. census areas for the state were used in order to lessen confusion and for depicting certain geographic and demographic information that is only obtainable on a census area basis. For this reason, while the village of Kake in Southeast Alaska, five villages in the Prince William Sound and Kenai Peninsula areas, and the villages on Kodiak Island are included in "village Alaska" for purposes of general demographic discussions, statistical analyses on specific topics for village Alaska do not always include these villages.
35. In determining population counts for this geographic area, subcensus area figures were used. Larger, predominantly non-Native population centers were backed out of the figures, leaving numbers relative to the villages and their surrounding environs.
36. Since the high rate of military personnel and dependents in the western Aleutians combined with the large and mainly non-Native community of Unalaska unnecessarily distorts the presence of Natives in their traditional area, only individual population figures for the villages of St. George, St. Paul, Atka and Nikolski were used in calculations relative to the Aleutians West Census Area.
37. Sitka Borough is the only exception with a Native population of 21 percent. Overall, Alaska Natives make up 10 percent of the population of maritime rural Alaska.
38. African Americans make up the largest minority in the Fairbanks North Star Borough, outnumbering Alaska Natives/American Indians with a population count of 5,553 versus 5,330. These figures include military personnel at Eilson Air Force Base and Fort Wainwright.
The list of organizations and individuals the Alaska Natives Commission would like to thank for their assistance during the Commission's endeavor is quite lengthy. With a few exceptions, individuals ore not listed because they are so numerous and because it would be easy to inadvertently leave someone out. You all know who you are, and we thank you.
The Commission's work and final work products are the results of the contributions of many people Alaska Native and non-Native as well as groups and individuals. Thank all of you for what you have done in a very positive way to improve life for Alaska Natives.
ALASKANS WHO TESTIFIED
Our gratitude goes to the 500 people from around the state who took the time to share their insights and suggestions at our hearings, and also to the additional several hundred who submitted written testimony.
HELPED WITH HEARINGS
Grand Camps of the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Alaska Native Sisterhood; Bristol Bay Native Association; City of Dillingham; Kawarok, Inc.; City of Nome; Native Village of Kluti-Kaah; Ahtna, Inc.; Tanana Chiefs Conference, Inc.; Doyon Limited; Association of Village Council Presidents; Calista Corporation; Northwest Arctic Borough; North Slope Borough; City of Barrow; Alaska Federation of Natives, Inc.; Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska; Sitka Tribe of Alaska; Staff and Students of Mt. Edgecumbe High School; Kodiak Area Native Association; Emmonak Corporation; City of Emmonak; City of Hooper Bay; State of Alaska, Department of Corrections; KOTZ-FM (Kotzebue); and KYUK-FM (Bethel).
IN-KIND AND TECHNICAL SUPPORT
Alaska Area Office, Indian Health Service (with a special thanks to Ms. Martha Taylor for all that she did during startup); Bureau of Indian Affairs; The Aleut Corporation; Alaska Village Initiatives; Southcentral Foundation; and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
PUBLIC MEMBERS OF THE COMMISSION'S TASK FORCES
Ella Anagick, Roy Barnhart, Bart Garber, Sally Kookesh, Ethel Lund, Larry Merculief, Nettie Peratrovich, Dr. Robert Rowen, Dalee Sambo, John Shively, Liz Sonnyboy, Paul Tony, Roseann Turner, and Mike Williams.
In the "Dedication" to this report, we note that roughly 1,200 Alaska Natives lost their lives during the course of our work. Among those who passed away was one of our Commission members, Mrs. Francis Hamilton of Ketchikan. Mrs. Hamilton's early contributions to our work were immeasurable, and her spirit and wisdom imbue our final work products.
Mike Irwin, Executive Director