I read with interest the Alaska Dispatch article describing our collaborative event, Rising Together on August 31st at the Alaska Airlines Center. I was dismayed that the potential participants were described as “fans”. We are not fans, we are Americans and Alaskans who wish to roll out the red carpet and welcome our President. It is not often any President is able to travel and stay in our beautiful state.
This event is to welcome the President of the United States to Alaska. We know that the President’s schedule is very demanding. He has many priorities to focus on everyday no matter where he is. He is a world leader and President of the most powerful country in the world. The daily responsibilities he and his team has, require their focused attention both to solve problems and prevent worse ones. Our prayers go out to them for strength and wisdom.
Several years ago, the late U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye (HI) welcomed us to Washington DC saying he wanted us to know that we are welcome in the heart of the political power in our country and that our lives and issues matter. He constantly encouraged us, as did the late U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, to bring about peaceful lasting change and to do our part. They believed in us and welcomed our contributions to building this great nation and state.
The current White House has shown us this same courtesy. They have welcomed our input and ideas. They have listened to our descriptions of the challenges facing our state with the changing climate, the serious financial problems our state faces with low oil prices, and the needs of our rural villages. We have described the need for greater federal help and partnership to strengthen our economy, focus on climate resilient infrastructure development and critical human resource development.
We have just heard from the White House – President Obama will NOT be coming to this event. We hope his visit to Alaska is fruitful and safe. We are delighted he will travel to the rural areas and listen to the concerns of our people.This event will still go forward as an opportunity to celebrate the great diversity of our state and to ensure every Alaskan knows our great President is here in Alaska. We want the President to know there are hard-working Alaskans who work everyday building strong communities in rural and urban Alaska and we will meet the challenges of the future head-on.
We are doing this event on August 31st for ourselves as well. We need stronger ties between rural and urban Alaska, between different ethnic groups, between different generations. This event will remind us we need to work together even more. We will Rise Together because that is the real Alaskan spirit.
ALASKA FEDERATION OF NATIVES