WINTER 2015 – A Message From the Board President

Making a Positive Difference in Our Communities

Rhonda Pitka and her daughter, Alaina, attended Hunt Fish Share and Vote Rally held during the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention week. Rhonda is the 1st Chief of Beaver and serves as chairwoman of the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments board. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

Rhonda Pitka and her daughter, Alaina, attended Hunt Fish Share and Vote Rally held during the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention week. Rhonda is the 1st Chief of Beaver and serves as chairwoman of the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments board. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

Warm wishes for a Happy New Year! As we look to RurAL CAP’s 50th anniversary in 2015, it is instructive and enlightening to reflect on the statewide voices of the people during the October Alaska Federation of Natives Convention to guide the work ahead by taking heed of the simple things we can each do in the midst of complex times.

Resilient Alaskans seek solutions to the many challenges just as they have for thousands of years.  We are reminded by the collective voices broadcast statewide during the AFN Convention about the strength that comes from working together on common issues to make a difference.  The power in the convention’s theme of “Rise as One” reminds us that we don’t have to look far to see how one person, quietly and without fanfare, can make a difference in the lives of others, one person at a time.

Again, we heard the voices of the children from Tanana for the collective “we” to be the change children everywhere are waiting for and that a positive impact on one child changes the whole village.  One healthy child does make a difference.  Their powerful message also told us that the children are watching for us collectively to become active to protect them.

Speakers throughout the three days spoke about the strength that emanates when people come together and work together.  People know it’s never just one person or one leader that brings about change for communities.  It’s all of us working together because we each have a very important role in our communities.

Nunapitchuk community. Photo by Jaad McElroy

Nunapitchuk community. Photo by Jaad McElroy

It is about everybody doing something, and by doing something, people collectively rise as one.

When we allow the opportunities to hear and listen to community members on common issues, we find the most strength is in that common ground to build consensus where we realize we have a better opportunity of advancing our issues and making a difference by knowing how we can work together.

We heard the voices from village Alaska about the many challenges in our communities.  This includes declining federal and state resources, climate change, subsistence, fishing issues along the Kuskokwim and Yukon rivers, the high cost of living, housing, language and cultural revitalization, social well-being, jobs, and quality education.  We don’t have to look far to know that most positive changes can come from the smallest of thoughts and actions.  It only takes one act, one person to make a difference.

As a member of the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Alaska Native Sisterhood Grand Camp, I am reminded of one of the many accomplishments credited to the organization of making voting rights possible for Alaska Natives prior to the Citizenship Act of 1924.  We congratulate and look forward to working with Governor Walker and Lt. Governor Mallott on the many important issues facing Alaskans.  We take this opportunity to recognize and thank Lt. Governor Mallott for serving as RurAL CAP’s Executive Director in its formative years, and we will do our part, as he shared at the convention, to continue the tremendous progress made to date that lifts us all in the same way as progress must.

During this holiday season and into the New Year, let us continue to keep the families in need of support in our thoughts as we carry out the work ahead.  Warm wishes for a wonderful holiday season and all the best to you and your families.