FAIRBANKS - Tara MacLean Sweeney called on Alaska Natives to cast off a "cloak of victimization" during her keynote speech Thursday at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention.
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The annual convention attracts hundreds of Alaska Natives, AFN delegates and officials, including Gov. Sarah Palin. It ended Saturday.
Palin used her convention address to announce her appointment of Anchorage journalist Rhonda McBride as a rural adviser. McBride will serve as a liaison between the governor and Alaska Native villages, corporations and individuals.
In her speech, Sweeney - director of government affairs for Arctic Slope Regional Corp. - called on Alaska Natives to fight off a "sense of entitlement."
She said Native society is on the edge of "entitlement syndrome," as people - struggling through years of shame and deprivation after being sent to boarding schools - overcompensate with their children.
"If we do not carefully and actively manage this change and shift our perspective, the damage done to our people will be far greater than any oil spill," Sweeney said."