The Auk Kwan are the indigenous tribe of the Juneau area. Traditional Auk territory extended from Berners Bay south to Seymour Canal. I’ve been alive a long time, almost 88 years. I’ve seen our old ways pass; I’ve seen our old knowledge, traditions and values stretch and weaken. Over the years, as Juneau has grown, we have needed to travel farther and farther to find our traditional foods, such as berries and wild asparagus, as well as herbal medicines.
Last week Governor Parnell approved the state’s budgets without vetoing any proposed spending. Down the drain goes another $5 million in state general funds and $30 million in federal receipts for the proposed Juneau road extension. The governor missed an opportunity to show real leadership by vetoing this wasteful spending and using this money to meet more pressing needs, like teaching our children, helping those in need and healing our sick.
We used to have several villages at Berners Bay, and where there are villages, there are burial sites. We are afraid that if extending the dead end from Cascade Point to a ferry terminal at the Katzehin River delta will result in the desecration of our burial sites. There has been enough of such desecration. When is it going to stop? Without respect, what will happen to our people? How long before our spree of violence towards the Earth whiplashes back upon us?
This summer, the Alaska Department of Transportation is once again poised to claim that this harmful road, which will cost well over half a billion dollars, somehow benefits Juneau. They are wrong. It is wrong to waste another dime on a road that will accomplish so little and cost everyone so much.
The governor talks about choosing respect but instead chose not to act — to turn a blind eye away from spending more state money on the violent destruction of our ancestral lands — to sacrifice our long-honored connections to the water, land and creatures in Berners Bay. Alaskans need commonsense leadership and a governor who serves as a true champion of peace and justice for all Alaskans and all creation.