My most particular beef with Sarah Palin.

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dancers.jpgThis time it's not the creationism, nor the absurd under-qualification for the job, let alone the other job, nor is it the hatred, fear and division she has sought to inspire on the campaign trail. 

It's the way she's dealt with Alaska's natives, who make up 15.6% of the state's population. A friend of mine, an Alaskan native himself, says:

"Alaska is too small a state to say anything without having things come back to them and Palin seems to think that junior high school politics is the way you do business at the higher, or in her case lower, levels of Government operations."

He's sent me the following list of her failings on this issue. Americans surely cannot elect her to national office. Surely they will send her back to Alaska (sorry, Alaskans, it's just until 2010).

Palin has attacked Alaska Native Subsistence Fishing
Perhaps no issue is of greater importance to Alaska Native peoples as the right to hunt and fish according to ancient customary and traditional practices, and to carry on the subsistence way of life for future generations. Governor Sarah Palin has consistently opposed those rights.

Once in office, Governor Palin decided to continue litigation that seeks to overturn every subsistence fishing determination the federal government has ever made in Alaska. In pressing this case, Palin decided against using the Attorney General (which usually handles State litigation) and instead continued contracting with Senator Ted Stevens' brother-in-law's law firm (Birch, Horton, Bittner & Cherot).

The goal of Palin's lawsuit is to invalidate all the subsistence fishing regulations the federal government has issued to date to protect Native fishing, and to force the courts instead to take over the role of setting subsistence regulations. Palin continues to argue against Native subsistence rights, in favor of sport and commercial fishing.

Palin opposes subsistence protections in marine waters, on many of the lands that Natives selected under their 1971 land claims settlement with the state and federal governments, and in many of the rivers where Alaska Natives customarily fish. Palin also opposes subsistence fishing protections on Alaska Native federal allotments that were deeded to individuals purposely to foster Native subsistence activities. All these issues are now pending before the federal district court.

Palin has attacked Alaska Native Subsistence Hunting 
Palin has also sought to invalidate critical determinations the Federal Subsistence Board has made regarding customary and traditional uses of game, specifically to take hunting opportunities away from Native subsistence villagers and thereby enhance sport hunting. Palin's attack here on subsistence has focused on the Ahtna Indian people in Chistochina.

In both hunting and fishing matters, Palin has continued the policies initiated by the former Governor Frank Murkowski's administration, challenging hunting and fishing protections that Native people depend upon for their subsistence way of life in order to enhance sport fishing and hunting opportunities. Palin's lawsuits are a direct attack on the core way of life of Native Tribes in rural Alaska.

Palin has attacked Alaska Tribal Sovereignty
Given past court rulings affirming the federally recognized tribal status of Alaska Native villages, Palin argues that Alaska Tribes have no authority to act as sovereigns, despite their recognition. So extreme is Palin on tribal sovereignty issues that she has sought to block tribes from exercising any authority whatsoever even over the welfare of Native children, adhering to a 2004 legal opinion issued by the former Murkowski Administration that no such jurisdiction exists.

Palin has attacked Alaska Native Languages
Palin has refused to accord proper respect to Alaska Native languages and voters by refusing to provide language assistance to Yup'ik speaking Alaska Native voters. As a result, Palin was just ordered by a special three-judge panel of federal judges to provide various forms of voter assistance to Yup'ik voters residing in southwest Alaska. Palin was ordered to provide trained poll workers who are bilingual in English and Yup'ik; along with sample ballots in written Yup'ik. 

In sum, measured against some the rights that are most fundamental to Alaska Native Tribes - the subsistence way of life, tribal sovereignty and voting rights - Palin's record is a failure.

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This page was published on November 4, 2008 7:12 AM.

The return of Bobby Kennedy. was the previous entry in this blog.

Should the Greens have endorsed Obama? is the next entry in this blog.