Sealaska Board Endorses Murkowski, Peltola, Walker-Drygas; Opposes Constitutional Convention
Friday, July 29, 2022
Shows support for proven leaders with a history of advocating for Alaska Native people
The Sealaska Board of Directors today endorsed Bill Walker and Heidi Drygas for Alaska Governor and Lieutenant Governor, Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the race for U.S. Senate and will oppose the ballot measure that would initiate a constitutional convention in Alaska.
The actions follow the board’s decision a week prior to support the candidacy of former state lawmaker Mary Peltola to fill the vacancy in the U.S. House of Representatives following the death of longtime Congressman Don Young in March.
Sealaska rarely endorses candidates, choosing to support only those candidates who are closely aligned with Sealaska’s vision for Alaska and the interests of its 23,000 Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian shareholders. Sealaska is deeply engaged in public policy issues impacting Alaska Natives, including traditional values and way of life, economic opportunity and land rights.
“Sealaska is guided by Indigenous values first and foremost: responsible development, environmental sustainability and an outlook that extends many generations into the future,” said Sealaska board chair Joe Nelson. “We are at a pivotal moment on a variety of fronts. We need leadership – locally and in Washington – that reflects our values and understands our needs.”
Both Walker and Drygas have deep ties to communities across the state and have championed causes significant to Alaska Natives, including:
- Expansion of the state’s Medicaid program;
- Support for the preservation and teaching of Alaska Native languages;
- Fair wages and working conditions for Alaska workers;
- Strengthening statewide policy to fight human trafficking, an issue which disproportionately impacts Alaska Native women and girls.
Murkowski is an emphatic advocate for Alaska Native people in Washington, where she serves in several crucial leadership positions impacting Alaska Native and American Indian policy. Murkowski’s work most recently included introducing Savanna’s Act and the Not Invisible Act, battling the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People gripping Alaska and the country.
Sealaska’s support for Peltola is based on her long track record of working for and with Native communities across the state and because of her deep experience at all levels of government in Alaska.
“Sealaska urges voters to support those candidates who closely align with our vision — and who are willing to come to the table as equals and discuss solutions even in those areas where we don’t agree,” said Nelson.
Alaska’s constitution requires that the question of a constitutional convention be put before voters every 10 years. The Sealaska Board voiced concerns about the possible repercussions of holding such a convention, especially in the present climate.
“Reassessing Alaska’s constitution could fundamentally endanger not just the rights of all Alaskans, but specifically Native sovereignty,” said Jaeleen Kookesh, Sealaska Vice President of Policy and Legal Affairs. “Alaska Native people are a historically disenfranchised group that continues to see the impacts of inequity today. We are responsible for using whatever influence we have to break down barriers that may impact our children and grandchildren, not open the possibility of continued imbalance for generations to come.”