Time for Alaska Native leaders to step up, speak out

Posted: Tuesday, January 27, 2009

An Alaska Native leader knows the rules and protocols of the people. An example is the whaling captain who knows how to work with his team, how to divide the whale according to what each person's share is. A leader's character is subtle and benevolent, not boastful.

A true Native leader is able to mentor and nurture the potential of each individual in the community. A good leader connects people to each other and to the environment, providing hope for things bigger than themselves.

We need Native leadership because we can no longer allow others to speak and act for us.

Various agencies have created and perpetuated a cycle of dependence. For decades, agencies have tried and failed to address problems such as suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, and domestic violence in Native communities.

President Obama said programs that fail will be identified and money will be put toward those that are effective and meaningful.

Others, because of having lived in rural communities or because they hold master's or doctorate degrees, pretend to know what's best for Alaska Natives. Western-style programs and qualifications are inadequate for identifying problems and finding solutions for Alaska Natives.

It is time for true Alaska Native leaders to emerge! Let's do our own work using our elders' wisdom, traditional knowledge, Native sciences and Native principles and values.

Sonia Vent, Shareholder of Doyon

Augusta Reimer, Shareholder of Bering Straits


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