September 07, 2008

Mixed feelings about Palin

What's Palin's Record on Native Issues?"The Alaska population is pretty excited," said Holly Miowak Stebing, a 20-year-old Inupiaq woman and Barack Obama supporter. "Within the Native population, it's pretty mixed."

Last week, the Anchorage woman got to meet Obama backstage at Invesco Field in Denver shortly before he took the stage to accept his party's nomination for president. Stebing said the majority of her state's Native population votes Democratic and likely won't support McCain, despite Palin being on the ticket.

She criticized Palin for undermining causes she sees as beneficial to Native Alaskans, such as the governor's opposition to a legislative proposition that would have stopped certain mining operations in the state from releasing toxic pollutants into water that would harm the health of humans or salmon. Stebing said salmon is important as a food and revenue source to Native Alaskans, but Palin opposed the measure, which was defeated Aug. 26 by more than 57 percent of Alaskan voters.

Stebing said, like Palin, Proposition 4 has drawn mixed response from Native Alaskans, some of whom opposed impeding mining operations that provide them much needed jobs.

"It's really splitting the Native community," Stebing said. "I think we need to preserve the water. I think we need to preserve the salmon."
Chuck Degnan, who is Inupiaq and a former Alaskan state representative, sayshe knows little about Todd Palin other than that he worked for oil company British Petroleum, a company many Native Alaskans hold in contempt. He said while most Native Alaskans knew Sarah Palin's husband was part Yu'pik, few non-Indians did.

Degnan said he also was upset when he learned that Sarah Palin opposed Proposition 4, which he said was important in protecting tribal cultures in Alaska.

"It's critical we have clean water for those animals so it doesn't affect our health," he said.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Palin Appreciates Natives.

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