Vulnerable First: Save Our State Rally, A Speech

Someone once said, I wish others loved their states the way Alaskans love Alaska. And that’s why we are here, because we love and are fiercely protective of our state and would do anything to defend it, including the people in it. I grew up in Wasilla but my family’s from the North Slope and so I was watching from Utqiaġvik, formerly, Barrow, the Governor’s announcement and an hour later, was with my community, at Nalukataq, our whaling celebration watching everyone take care of each other as the successful crews shared with everyone, regardless of who you were, the gift of the whale. Elders first. 

The words were fresh in my mind, “We can’t be all things to all people.”

I thought, if that’s true, wouldn’t we want to take care of our most vulnerable, first? 

Our elders first? 

Our children and young adults, first? 

I watched the soup get distributed, then the mikigaq or fermented whale, then the meat known as quaq, then the maktak. I thought of these vetos to our elders and our youth. How I’ve known people who have struggled to maintain housing. I serve on the Alaska State Council on the Arts, which was just zeroed out. And it was a full three days later that I remembered, I am a UA student too. What will this mean for my program? 

But that is exactly the nature of these cuts: they hit you from a multitude of sides that only time can help you realize, but we don’t have time. 

And I just have to say — As a UA student for my AA, a UA student for my BA, and a UA student for my MA, every Alaskan deserves to be educated in their own state.

“We can’t be all things to all people.” Who are the people then that are kept in mind? Do we have a government for all Alaskans, or for some Alaskans? For our community members sleeping in the streets, are they not Alaskans, too? 

People are in fear for their livelihoods, and in fear for their lives. This is not overblown. And this is the first round.  And it’s entirely avoidable. The Alaska we know is possible is still within our reach. We do not have to do this. When it comes to the decision to override the vetoes, our legislators do not have to do this. 

Because we know our former Governor while outgoing delivered a balanced budget, we reject the narrative that this way is the only way. 

We resolutely and wholly and entirely reject this outcome for our state and we ask our elected officials: Veto the vetoes and try again. 

No Alaskan will be able to escape this. When we vote, we are not voting for our part of Alaska; we are voting for all of Alaska, because all of our destinies as Alaskans are tied. 

Quyanaq, thank you, to everyone who has called, emailed, and otherwise contacted your legislators. And tomorrow, we will do it all over again, and we will do it every day, until the last day, on the path to 45.