Today marks two years since the Alaska Landmine was launched with the first Sunday Minefield. A lot has happened since October 2017. We have broken major stories, hosted Election Central with ADN, and I spent the last legislative session in Juneau. I would like to give a big shout out to Team Landmine: Paxson Woelber, Cale Green, and Allison Hovanec. Especially for taking all of my phone calls! The Landmine would not be possible without them. I would also like to thank all of our partners, advertisers, and everyone who has helped make the Landmine possible. And of course all of our readers. Without you we would not be here. I am looking forward to a busy 2020. If you enjoy the content we provide, please consider contributing so we can keep going.
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Woke White People at AFN
I want to start this column by addressing a post I made on Facebook and Twitter a few days ago about “woke white people” at AFN protesting Governor Mike Dunleavy (R – Alaska) when he spoke. Many people were triggered by the post.
— The Alaska Landmine (@alaskalandmine) October 18, 2019
I raised this issue because many Native Alaskan attendees at AFN were furious that several non-Native people decided to disrupt their statewide gathering. The speakers at the event, including Governor Dunleavy, were invited by AFN and were guests. Many white protesters decided that it was they, and not the Native Alaskan hosts, who should be allowed to decide who could speak freely at AFN. Many Native Alaskans, even those who disagree with Dunleavy, found that offensive and patronizing. As AFN Co-Chair Will Mayo stated during the protest:
I’m going to ask, I respect your right to protest in this way, but I want to ask you, with respect, to please express your views at the voting booth, express your beliefs in a constructive way, and don’t come into our house and disrespect our guest.
Mayo’s comments were greeted with applause and cheering from many in the crowd. Notice how he said “our house” and “our guest.” Who do you think he was referring to?
I posted a photo of two protesters. Many people took me to task for assuming that those protesters were white because of their appearance, and assumed that I believe I can tell who is Native and who isn’t by looks alone. I’ll state the obvious: Native Alaskans can look a million different ways, and I can’t tell whether someone is Native or not from a photo. The photo was sent to me by an attendee at AFN who was outraged that an event for Alaska Native people was being disrupted by groups of white protesters. Several people have reached out to me to say that, in fact, neither of the women in the photo are Native Alaskan, and one is from out of state. Of course I can’t know that for sure. All I do know is that there were woke white protestors at AFN, and that many Native Alaskan attendees found their uninvited disruptions insulting and offensive.
Some people told me that even if these women were white, they may have Native Alaskan friends, family, or spouses. Does having Native friends or family mean that you have the right to disrupt a gathering of Native Alaskans? It’s also worth noting that the people defending the protest frequently claim that Governor Dunleavy, whose wife and daughters are all Alaska Native, has no special connection to Alaska Native culture because of that fact. Some of the woke white people even claim that he hides behind his Native wife. If 4/5 of your own nuclear family being Alaska Native means nothing, then having a Native Alaskan friend definitely doesn’t mean you get to freely disrupt a Native gathering.
Lastly, I want to point out that many of the woke white anti-Dunleavy protesters wore kuspuks to the event. These are the same folks who railed against Dunleavy for “cultural appropriation” when he donned traditional Native regalia while signing SB 126, permanently establishing November as Alaska Native Heritage Month. Just ignore the fact that actual Alaska Native people put the traditional wear on Dunleavy. It’s outrageous “cultural appropriation” if you’re Dunleavy signing Alaska Native Heritage Month into law, but somehow acceptable if you wear traditional Native Alaskan attire while loudly disrupting a gathering of Alaska Native people. The hypocrisy here is astounding.
I regret the confusion caused by my use of the photo from AFN. But more than that, I regret that the broader point I was trying to make was lost. These “woke white protesters” seem to view Alaska Native peoples as a monolith who must all be outraged by Dunleavy, and assumed that their disruptions would be welcome. They weren’t. Just as Alaska Native people can look many different ways, Alaska Native people also believe many different things. Some support resource development, some don’t. Some want to recall Dunleavy. Others voted for him and continue to support him.
Do Native Alaskans have the right to be angry at Dunleavy? Absolutely. His budget and policies have caused serious uncertainty for rural Alaska. Let Alaska Native people decide who gets to speak at the Alaska Federation of Natives. Woke white people should take their protests elsewhere.
Many other State leaders spoke or participated on panels at AFN in Fairbanks. These included Senator Lisa Murkowski (R – Alaska), Senator Dan Sullivan (R – Alaska), Congressman Don Young (R – Alaska), Senate President Cathy Giessel (R – Anchorage), House Speaker Bryce Edgmon (I – Dillingham), Senator Donny Olson (D – Golovin), Representative Chuck Kopp, Fairbanks Mayor Jim Matherly, Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, and many others. Senator Lyman Hoffman (D – Bethel) was presented the Citizen of the Year Award.
Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Joel Bolger also gave a pointed speech at AFN about judicial independence. This ADN article goes into more detail.
Sources report that former Governor Bill Walker, Senator Dan Sullivan, and Senator Lisa Murkowski were all dancing while the Marc Brown Band was playing at AFN. The sources report that Bill Walker is a “great dancer!” Also, Joe Balash won the “best jig” at the talent competition at the AFN banquet. Get loose, Joe!
Interior Republicans held a lunch in Fairbanks on Friday. Senator Giessel spoke at the event. In attendance were Senator Click Bishop (R – Fairbanks), Senator John Coghill (R – North Pole), Representative Bart LeBon (R – Fairbanks), and Department of Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka (Chewie). There were even some protestors!
Check out Senator Scott Kawasaki (D – Fairbanks) with some hard right PFD folks. Christine Robbins, the woman with the “I support a full PFD” sign is the District 4 Chair for the Alaska Republican Party. She’s a huge Dunleavy supporter. We are officially in the Twilight Zone.
If you did not see this, check out how some Russians pranksters were able to get a call with Governor Dunleavy. This took place before March 31 because they referenced former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Dunleavy brought up this call on a podcast I did with him in April. In addition to many bizarre comments, the best was when they said Russia was planning on annexing Alaska. They played a Russian rap song by who they described as “like 50 Cents.” They said it was being played at the Russian Embassy and that Alaskans favor annexation. YESSSS! That call lasted WAY too long.
Check out our official bingo card! I have a feeling we will be updating this soon.
A Landmine reader sent in these screenshots from DPS Commissioner Amanda Price’s Facebook page with the comment, “Having a DPS commissioner who was more concerned about public safety than herself would be fantastic.” Pretty much. Another reader commented, “At least now that Nordstrom is closed at least Commissioner Price will be able to focus more of her time on public safety.” Savage.
Lieutenant Governor Kevin Meyer (R – Alaska) approved the oil tax ballot initiative submitted by Vote Yes for Alaska’s Fair Share. They held a press conference this week in Anchorage. They must obtain more than 28,000 signatures from 30 of Alaska’s 40 districts before January 21 – when the next legislative session begins – to be on next year’s ballot. If they don’t get the signatures by then, the measure would instead appear on the 2022 ballot.
You have probably heard the commercial and slogan, “Get the offer from Schlehofer” from local attorney Frank Schlehofer. His website is literally gettheoffer.com. Anyhoo, local attorney Jason Skala either really needs business or has zero originality. Cool, Jason.
This Week’s Loose Unit
This week’s Loose Unit is a no brainer. This week’s Loose Unit is Samuel Johns and all the protestors who interrupted Governor Dunleavy’s speech at AFN. According to this KTOO article, “A handout circulated by protesters before Dunleavy’s speech asked convention attendees to stand, turn their backs and raise their fists for four minutes to symbolize the $444 million that he vetoed from the state budget earlier this year.” While Dunleavy was giving his speech, that he was invited to give by AFN, Johns started banging a drum and singing a Native song, interrupting the speech. Gotta love Elstun Lauesen in there next to Johns. Very loose!
Alaska Native rights advocate Samuel Johns begins drumming in the middle of the governor’s speech to the largest gathering of tribes in the state. Much of the convention focuses on his budget cuts. pic.twitter.com/ZXWM5EFUzM
— Kyle Hopkins (@kylehopkinsAK) October 17, 2019
Several people in the crowd, including the woke white people referenced above, turned their backs on Dunleavy and raised their fists. It was all good until Will Mayo interrupted Dunleavy to scold the protestors for disrespecting their guest. Once their protest was condemned, many of the protestors – who were not expecting to be called out – looked like children that had been scolded by their parents. Very loose!
If you have a nomination for this week’s Loose Unit, or if you have any political news, stories or gossip (or any old pics of politicians or public officials) please email me at [email protected]