Blacks and Natives unite to elect first Alaska Native to Congress

Mary-Peltola-for-Congress-Black-Caucus-rally-flier-072122, Blacks and Natives unite to elect first Alaska Native to Congress, World News & Views
A longstanding coalition between Black Alaskans and Alaska Natives is being reinvigorated by the campaign of Mary Peltola for Alaska’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Black leaders are uniting behind her as she strives to bring economic opportunity for all Alaskans, reviving a coalition led in the 1960s and 1970s by Bay View publisher Willie Ratcliff. Among Alaska’s current Black leadership is Dr. Ratcliff’s son, Pastor Glenn Ratcliff, who alerted the Bay View to this opportunity for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) progress and power.

Frontrunner Mary Peltola’s leading opponent is Sarah Palin

by Sealaska

On Aug. 16, Alaska will hold a special election to fill out the remainder of former Congressman Don Young’s term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Alaskans will have three choices to rank in order of preference on the Aug. 16 ballot: Nick Begich, Sarah Palin and Mary Peltola. 

Nick Begich III is the Republican in Alaska’s leading Democratic political family, his grandfather having won the House seat in 1970, and Sarah Palin is a former Republican governor of Alaska, vice-presidential running mate to John McCain in 2008 and 2012, and star of reality television.

Ballotopedia reports, “A poll from Alaska Survey Research showed Peltola with 40%, Begich with 31% and Palin with 29% in the first round. It showed Begich with 57% to Peltola’s 43% in the second round.’ Clearly, Peltola will need every Black and Native vote and the support of other progressives to win.

Sealaska encourages Alaskans to choose Mary Peltola first as they rank the special election candidates. If elected, she would be the first Alaska Native to hold a Congressional-level post representing Alaska. Each vote – each voice – has power. This election represents a significant opportunity to use that power to bring about a historic moment for Alaska.  

Although Peltola is Yup’ik from Bethel, she is intimately familiar with both Southeast and the rest of Alaska. She represented the Bethel region in the Alaska House of Representatives for 10 years, where she helped rebuild the Bush Caucus, including eight years serving as chair. Her time in the Bush Caucus led to a deep understanding of the issues facing Alaskans. Since then, she has served in both local and tribal government, resource and economic development, and fisheries.  

“Alaska Native legislators have always played a key role in governing because their sense of purpose is tied to a people and a place, not a party,” said Sealaska board Vice Chair Jodi Mitchell. “Serving in Alaska’s sole seat in the U.S. House is a natural next step.” 

Sealaska urges voters to choose Peltola because she is aligned with the goals and vision of Sealaska and its shareholders: advocacy for Alaska Native sovereignty and people, traditional ways of life and values, environmental stewardship and ocean health. 

“Although Alaska is considered a ‘red’ state, a large number of our voters are non-partisan,” Mitchell continued. “Another powerful voting bloc is Alaska Native voters, who represent communities that have acted as stewards of this land forever. Our population should be reflected by our representation. 

“Mary has a path to be the first Alaska Native representing Alaska in D.C. But to get her there will require tremendous voter turnout from our communities. Change is inevitable during this election. Will we be part of it?”


Mary-Peltola-fundraiser-072122-1-1400x665, Blacks and Natives unite to elect first Alaska Native to Congress, World News & Views
Some of the folks who turned out for the Mary Peltola fundraiser on July 21 gathered for a photo. From left, they are Curtis Harris, Jesse Howard, his children standing in front of him, Mary Peltola, candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, Black Caucus Chair Ed Wesley and Darryl Sample. The event raised over $10,000 for Mary’s campaign, hopefully enough to ensure her victory, a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives for its first Alaska Native member. – Photo: Ed Wesley
Mary-Peltola-fundraiser-072122-2-1400x755, Blacks and Natives unite to elect first Alaska Native to Congress, World News & Views
In this photo from the fundraiser, the person on the far left is so far unidentified. The others, from left, are U.S. House candidate Mary Peltola, Unite Here Culinary Union 878 President Marvin Jones, Jesse Howard’s children standing in front of Marvin, Tommy Bishop, Lokie Galel Tobin (in yellow), candidate for State Senate Seat I, and John Youman (JY). – Photo: Ed Wesley

About the Black Caucus of the Alaska Democratic Party and the power of solidarity

Ed Wesley, former Alaska Democratic National Committeeman and chairman of the Black Caucus of the Alaska Democratic Party, applauds the Black community for raising more than $10,000 at the July 21 event to elect Mary Peltola. If you didn’t attend the July 21 event and want to support the Black Caucus fundraiser for Mary Peltola, go to Mary Peltola for Alaska and donate! Then announce on the Black Folks in Alaska Facebook page that you donated to her campaign.

The Black Caucus, the smallest of all the caucuses in the Alaska Democratic Party, challenges the larger caucuses – Labor, Climate, Natives and Veterans – to host a meet and greet prior to Aug.10. On Aug. 10, all the caucuses will come together at 6:00 p.m. in Fairview Lion Park at 8th and Karluk for a rally to GOTV (get out the vote). For more information, contact Ed Wesley at 907-350-0419.

Wesley declares: “If all caucuses match the efforts of the Black Caucus, we can increase Mary’s winning percentages from 40% to 50%. Let’s make history, Democrats.”

Sealaska, representing Southeast Alaska, is one of 12 Alaska Native corporations formed in 1971 to settle Native land claims. Sealaska explains: “Unlike some arrangements with Lower 48 tribes in the past, Alaska Native corporations own the land and everything on it outright. Lands are not held in trust by the federal government, a patriarchal approach applied to some tribal lands in the Lower 48.” The corporations are governed by and for Alaska Natives. Bay View staff contributed to this story.