Tag Archives: Yup’ik Eskimo

Sarah Palin’s Dad Chuck Heath and ‘The Minority Type Thing’

Sarah Palin, then Sarah Heath, left, with classmate Stacia Crocker at a dorm party at the University of Idaho.

Sarah Palin’s school years come back to haunt again, this time with a quote from father Chuck Heath. During the presidential campaign, the media scrutinized her college history, which begins in — of all places — Hawaii, Obama’s home state. Back in 1982, Palin and her high school buddy Kim “Tilly” Ketchum left Alaska for the Aloha State, eventually attending Hawaii Pacific University. But after one semester they returned to North Idaho College. Both blamed the weather for their departure. [Tip to Hyphen]

Ketchum told the LA Times:

“When you’re used to having some cooler weather, you get tired of the heat.”

While Palin echoed this explanation in her new book “Going Rogue,” her father gave reporters Scott Conroy and Shushannah Walshe a different reason. The New Yorker’s Sam Tanenhaus points out:

[Palin] is equally circumspect on the issue of ethnicity, pointing out that Todd, whom she met in high school, is “part Yupik Eskimo” and opened her to the “social diversity” of Alaska. (Wasilla is more than eighty per cent white.) Palin, though notoriously ill-travelled outside the United States, did journey far to the first of the four colleges she attended, in Hawaii. She and a friend who went with her lasted only one semester. “Hawaii was a little too perfect,” Palin writes. “Perpetual sunshine isn’t necessarily conducive to serious academics for eighteen-year-old Alaska girls.” Perhaps not.

But Palin’s father, Chuck Heath, gave a different account to Conroy and Walshe. According to him, the presence of so many Asians and Pacific Islanders made her uncomfortable: “They were a minority type thing and it wasn’t glamorous, so she came home.” In any case, Palin reports that she much preferred her last stop, the University of Idaho, “because it was much like Alaska yet still ‘Outside.’ “

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Palin’s Father Insinuates Sarah Uncomfortable Around Asians

Chuck Heath, father of Sarah Palin.

Chuck Heath, father of Sarah Palin.

Based on recent comments from her father, it appears that Asian Americans are partly responsible for Sarah Palin‘s spotty undergraduate career. Palin’s father suggested that she left her first school in Hawaii, ultimately attending four different colleges before graduating, because there were too many Asians in the tropical paradise. Which made her uncomfortable. Apparently, Palin felt much more comfortable studying in Idaho.

Learning this about Palin doesn’t surprise me in the least. Maybe she couldn’t make out all those Asian Americans in Hawaii from looking outside her window in Alaska.

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Gov. Sarah Palin’s Hand Seen in Battle Over Mine in Alaska; Everyone Ticked Off at Sarah (Video)

In an exclusive in-depth article by Michael Powell and Jo Becker for the New York Times, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s involvement and influence in the Bristol Bay / Pebble Mine controversy has left many Alaskans shaking their heads in dismay.

EKWOK, Alaska – Two years ago, Sarah Palin landed near this tiny native village and spoke of her love for the vast and starkly beautiful delta that drains into Bristol Bay.

“I am a commercial fisherman; my daughter’s name is Bristol,” said Ms. Palin, then a candidate for governor. “I could not support a project that risks one resource that we know is a given, and that is the world’s richest spawning grounds, over another resource.”

Many here took her words to heart. But as governor, Ms. Palin has helped ease the way for a proposed copper and gold mine of near-mythic proportions at the headwaters of Bristol Bay, the world’s greatest spawning ground for wild salmon.

If state regulators give their approval, mining companies plan to carve an open pit that would rival the world’s largest mines, descending half a mile and taking as much energy to operate daily as the city of Anchorage. That prospect has ignited a war between Alaska’s two historic industries, mining and fishing.

Scientists and former state and federal biologists warn that toxic residue from the project, known as Pebble Mine, would irreparably harm a centuries-old salmon fishing industry that employs 17,000 and hauls in $100 million annually.

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Palin’s Rural Adviser Quits Over Alaska Native Record

Rhonda McBride, Alaska Rural Adviser

Rhonda McBride, Alaska Rural Adviser

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.

Palin’s Rural Adviser Quits Over Alaska Native Record

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.

Alaska Natives Question Gov. Palin’s Support – Natives Ignored & Undermined by Palin Administration

Alaska governor and GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin

Alaska governor and GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin

When American voters hear of the high favorability ratings of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, it would seem that all Alaskans ‘love’ their new governor.  In a September 29, 2008 article by Rachel D’Oro for the Associated Press, the viewpoints of Alaska’s Native population appear to have been largely overlooked.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin routinely notes her husband’s Yup’ik Eskimo roots. But those connections haven’t erased doubts about her in a community long slighted by the white settlers who flocked to Alaska and dominate its government.

Since she took office in 2006, many Alaska Natives say they’ve felt ignored when she made appointments to her administration, sided with sporting interests over Native hunting rights and pursued a lawsuit that Natives say seeks to undermine their ancient traditions.

Alaska’s population today is mostly white but nearly a fifth of its people are Native Americans – primarily Alaska Natives. Blacks and Asians combined make up less than 10 percent of the state’s population.

As a result, race relations in Alaska are different from those in other states. Palin inherited a complex, sometimes strained relationship with Alaska Natives. There is a wide economic disparity between its predominantly white urban areas and the scores of isolated Native villages, and competition between sport hunting rights and tribal sovereignty.

Early in her administration, Palin created a furor by trying to appoint a white woman to a seat, held for more than 25 years by a Native, on the panel that oversees wildlife management. Ultimately, Palin named an Athabascan Indian to the game board, but not before relations were bruised.

When a game board chairman suggested Alaska Natives missed a meeting because they were drinking beer, the remark struck a chord since the Alaska Native community is wracked by alcohol abuse. Palin, a candidate for governor at the time, asked him to resign.

Critics felt the man’s remarks rose to the level of misconduct that would have allowed the governor to fire him and were appalled Palin didn’t do more to get him off the board once she became governor later that year.

“He should have been removed,” said Lloyd Miller, a tribal rights attorney based in Anchorage. “When your conduct fractures the public trust, it’s misconduct.”

When Palin this summer fired Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, a Native, she replaced him with a non-Native. His successor resigned after 10 days on the job, when a previously undisclosed reprimand that stemmed from a sexual harassment claim against him came to light.

The Monegan firing is the subject of two state investigations. Palin is accused of firing Monegan because he refused to fire her sister’s former husband, a state trooper.

Two weeks after she was tapped as John McCain’s running mate, Palin named a Native to Monegan’s old position.

But Duke University political science professor Paula McClain, who went to high school in Alaska and now specializes in minority relations, said Palin’s actions suggest she has “a political tin ear or that she simply doesn’t care.”

“In a state like Alaska, how can you not be aware of how not reappointing a Native is going to play? At best, she’s naive,” McClain said.

Alaska Natives – the term includes indigenous Eskimo, Aleut and Indian populations – tend to lean Democrat. Many prominent Native leaders have endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president.

But the mother of Palin’s husband, Todd, is a quarter Yup’ik Eskimo. Each summer, he heads to his birthplace in Western Alaska to work in the Bristol Bay commercial salmon fishery.

Palin’s family ties would suggest she would be more sensitive to Native issues, said Stephen Haycox, a University of Alaska Anchorage history professor. But in her 21-month tenure, the governor has used those ties mostly to highlight her experiences in commercial fishing, moose hunting and general outdoorsmanship.

“She has not manifested, so far, any extraordinary measures on behalf of Alaska Natives,” Haycox said.

Alaska Inter-Tribal Council Chairman Mike Williams of Akiak said he’s been seeking an audience with Palin to address tribal concerns ever since she was elected governor, but her staff keeps telling him that her schedule is full.

“She’s so busy that she doesn’t have time for the tribes. There needs to be respect and a dialogue,” said Williams, who is also Yup’ik Eskimo.

This time of year, Williams is busy putting away meat, fish and berries for the winter – supplies that are critical to survival in cash-poor rural villages – and he said he wants to explain to Palin how increased pressures from sport hunting and fishing as well as oil and mining have eroded native hunting lands. 

Alaska Natives question Gov. Palin’s support

Protesters hold signs at a Hold Palin Accountable rally organized by Alaskans For Truth, in Anchorage, Alaska Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008. Hundreds of people showed up to demand Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Sen. John McCain's GOP running mate, uphold her promise to cooperate with the state Legislature's investigation into her firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.

Protesters hold signs at a Hold Palin Accountable rally organized by Alaskans For Truth, in Anchorage, Alaska Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008. Hundreds of people showed up to demand Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Sen. John McCain's GOP running mate, uphold her promise to cooperate with the state Legislature's investigation into her firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, who is part Alaska Native.