Rhonda McBride, the rural adviser for Alaska Governor Sarah Palin resigned this morning stating she thought it would be helpful to have an Alaska Native in the position. McBride, who is not an Alaskan Native, said she never “felt authentic” in her role as the rural adviser; she plans to now return to her previous career as a journalist. Although Alaska Natives represent 20% of the population, Gov. Palin left the rural adviser position unfilled for the first year of her administration, dispute suggested candidates by Alaska Native leaders. Gov. Palin has been accused of insensitivity in her lack of hiring Alaska Natives in key governmental positions.
JUNEAU, Alaska – Gov. Sarah Palin’s rural adviser resigned Monday amid criticism of the governor’s record on hiring Alaska Natives.
Rhonda McBride, who is not an Alaska Native, made the announcement in an e-mail to several Native leaders, saying there need to be more Native voices in Palin’s administration.
“I definitely think it would help to have an Alaska Native in this position,” McBride told The Associated Press.
Many Alaska Natives have said they felt neglected when Palin, now the Republican vice presidential nominee, made appointments to her administration, including the rural adviser post.
State Sen. Al Kookesh, a Democrat, said Palin left the position unfilled her first year in office and ignored Native leaders’ suggestions on the selection process.
“We were really disappointed when an Alaska Native wasn’t appointed,” said Kookesh, a Tlingit Indian who held the job in a previous administration.
Natives bristled early in Palin’s administration when she named a white woman to a game board seat held by a Native for more than 25 years. An Athabascan Indian eventually was named to the post after protests.
Relations worsened after Palin didn’t remove a game board chairman who once suggested that Alaska Natives missed a meeting because they were drinking beer, seen as insensitive since the Alaska Native community has high rates of alcohol abuse.
Alaska Natives make up about 20 percent of the population.
Palin’s husband, Todd, is part Yup’ik Eskimo, and her 13-member cabinet includes two Alaska Natives.
“In all honesty, I have never felt authentic in my role,” McBride wrote in her e-mail, a copy of which was obtained by the AP.
McBride, who covered rural issues as a reporter before becoming rural adviser last year, said she would return to journalism to help bring attention to Native issues.
She said her last day would be Oct. 23.
In a related KTUU Channel 2 News story from December 7, 2007, Rhonda McBride was a reporter for the Alaskan television station, covering the rural Alaska news beat, before being appointment by Gov. Sarah Palin to the position of rural adviser. Not to disparage Ms. McBride, who genuinely appears to care for the Alaska Native population, but perhaps this means that in a Palin presidential administration, Sean Hannity of Fox News might be considered for a cabinet level post?
Saying Goodbye to Rhonda McBride
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — On Friday Channel 2 News said so long, but not goodbye to a colleague who has made a big difference in the lives of many Alaskans.
At this time last year, Rhonda McBride was checking on the welfare of the villagers in Hooper Bay after a devastating fire.
In her eight years here at Channel 2, Rhonda has reported uncounted stories with a unique sense of style and an eye toward detail.
But it is her work in rural Alaska that set her apart, winning numerous national awards.
It was Rhonda’s groundbreaking work on the value of dental therapists in bush Alaska that helped eventually lead to an agreement with the American Dental Association.
Viewers have told us her current series on coping with diabetes has helped a immensely.
Rhonda’s passion for rural Alaska did not go un-noticed. She has been hired to be the governor’s principal liaison for rural Alaska and those of us in the newsroom cannot think of a better choice.
From time to time you might see her on special assignment for Channel 2.
So until we see you again Rhonda, Thank you.
And best of luck in your new job.