Leman: Murkowski committed to working with rural leaders

Posted: Friday, March 14, 2003

FAIRBANKS - Alaska's lieutenant governor told Native leaders in the Interior that Gov. Frank Murkowski is committed to working with rural Alaska and resolving the subsistence issue.

Lt. Gov. Loren Leman, speaking before delegates from more than 40 villages, said the governor also is committed to working with rural Alaska to strengthen families and improve education, economic opportunities and resource development.

"We want to do all we can to work with your constituents," Leman said. "We need to keep that dialogue open."

But Sen. Georgianna Lincoln, a Rampart Democrat, had a message of her own to delegates gathered for the Tanana Chiefs Conference's annual convention.

It is time, she said, to "hold Murkowski's feet to the fire," as she questioned whether the administration has lived up to campaign promises.

She told convention delegates to communicate with the state's new administration and lawmakers, and that polite silence would be a mistake.

"We cannot afford to be nice and kind. We must be aggressive, we must move forward," she said.

During a question-and-answer period, delegates described some policies and budget moves as attacks on traditional Native lifestyles and argued against any move toward encouraging boarding schools.

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