May 12, 2010

Alaska honors dogs, not Natives

Alaska Natives still unrecognized in state song

By Jeremy HsiehSome Alaska Native leaders said they are disillusioned with their lawmakers after a third attempt failed to add a verse to the state song mentioning indigenous people—even as the Legislature turned Groundhog Day into Marmot Day and the governor was expected to sign a bill making the Alaskan malamute the state dog.

“It hurts that they won’t act on it,” said Tlingit elder Selina Everson, a former grand president of the Alaska Native Sisterhood. “Our people need something to lift them up sometimes, spiritually, emotionally. ... It really hurts our Native community that they wouldn’t honor something like this.”

The song bill died on Rep. Nancy Dahlstrom’s desk when the two-year legislative cycle ended in April. She was responsible for scheduling it for final vote but never did. It was not a priority and there were more pressing issues, said Laura Pierre, Dahlstrom’s chief of staff. Final votes on the animal bills were scheduled under the watch of other legislators.

For some older Alaskans, recognizing malamutes as a state symbol before Natives sparks memories of storefront signs that said, “No Natives or Dogs Allowed,” which were common before World War II.
Comment:  Do you recall how I've compared loving Indian mascots to loving pets? This shows you what I mean.

It's okay to "honor" Natives as long as they're dead and gone. But to honor today's Natives? That's politically risky. To many people, it's tantamount to admitting Americans made mistakes...destroyed Native cultures and lives...and are still threatening them. Recognizing them might mean recognizing their rights and our obligations to them.

Therefore, we're more inclined to honor a dog or a rodent. In other words, Natives are no better than animals--and perhaps worse. Natives are better seen--like colorful bits of history--than heard. We don't want to know about their problems and concerns.

For more on the subject, see Native Origin of Alaska's Flag and Adding a Native Verse to Alaska's Song.


Anonymous said...

When will those Alaskan Natives ever learn??? You simply cannot rely on your politicians. Politicians are two-faced hypocrites. The Alaskan Natives need to stop crying to their lawmakers. It just makes them so inept and pathetic. If they want something to lift them up, they need to be more creative and innovative. Crying to lawmakers is last thing they should do. Given to the history of Alaskan politicos who do so little for their state's indigeneous.


dmarks said...

I'm surprised you missed the popular culture angle....

When was the last major release Hollywood movie about the Alaska Natives?

In contrast, I can easily think of two major release movies about Alaska dogs in the past 10 or 20 years.

Rob said...

Good point about the "snow dog" movies, DMarks.