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Alaskan survey / Alaskan TV

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  • Robert Schmidt
    http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/afn/story/9411138p-9322792c.html Native survey says life is better TRENDS: Villagers less likely than those in cities to be
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 30, 2007
      http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/afn/story/9411138p-9322792c.html

      Native survey says life is better
      TRENDS: Villagers less likely than those in cities to be "doing well."

      By ELIZABETH BLUEMINK
      ebluemink@...

      (Published: October 27, 2007)

      FAIRBANKS -- A first-of-its-kind statewide survey of Alaska Natives shows
      prevailing concern about the future of their home villages, even among
      Natives who have moved far away.

      Underscoring that concern is the survey's finding that more urban Natives
      who were surveyed say they are "doing well" compared to those who are
      living in the Bush.

      The survey -- which also revealed positive trends for Alaska Natives'
      quality of life -- was based on group discussions with Natives from around
      the state and random phone surveys with hundreds of Natives and
      non-Natives. The First Alaskans Institute, a think tank devoted to Native
      policy issues, published the survey.

      The institute's leaders unveiled the findings at the annual Alaska
      Federation of Natives convention, which ends today in Fairbanks.

      Among the findings:

      • 66 percent of Natives surveyed said their life is better compared to
      their parents' lives at the same age.

      • 62 percent of urban Natives surveyed said they were doing well, but only
      39 percent of rural Natives said they were doing well.

      • About 75 percent agreed that the desire among Alaska Natives in the rural
      areas to live traditionally -- but with modern conveniences -- is causing
      confusion and conflict for young Natives trying to plan their futures.

      • Young Native men saw substance abuse as less of a problem than did
      Natives as a whole, and Native women saw domestic abuse as more of a
      problem than Native men did.

      • Ranked by priority, the top three issues of concern identified by Alaska
      Natives were education, preserving cultural identity, and fuel and
      electricity costs.

      "We're doing OK but there are a number of different issues out there facing
      us, whether its heating oil, out-migration (from villages to urban areas),
      issues of young men ... The question for the native community is can't we
      start addressing those now?" said Janie Leask, the institute's president.

      "Do we have to wait until ... people are totally-out-migrated (from
      villages)?" she said.

      The institute hopes to hold a follow-up meeting with AFN and Native
      professional groups in the spring to discuss how to act on the survey's
      finding, she said.

      NATIVE TV

      A GCI executive announced Friday at AFN that his company has formed an
      alliance to create an Alaska Native television channel.

      The Alaska Native Cable Network will begin by running programs on GCI
      Channel 1 in the second half of next year and ultimately will get its own
      cable channel, according to GCI.

      Programs will include documentaries on Native art, culture and history,
      news, sports and weather. Ultimately, GCI hopes to broadcast the station as
      a profit-making enterprise, Ron Duncan, GCI president, said.

      The planned cable network is a partnership of GCI, AFN, Isuma Productions
      and other organizations, said AFN president Julie Kitka.

      Willie Hensley, a longtime Native leader involved with Isuma Productions,
      said that the notion of a Native television station has been in the works
      for some time.

      The station could involve feeds from "literally every village in Alaska"
      and it will help tie Natives together, he said.

      Isuma will oversee the program's management and finances.

      A Sealaska Corp. executive told AFN delegates Friday that despite economic
      growth among Alaska Natives, their cultural homeland -- the villages -- are
      getting left behind.

      The regional and village Native corporations don't have the capacity to
      generate all of the rural economic growth that is needed, Chris McNeil,
      chief executive of Sealaska, said.

      He said a key factor to positive growth in the villages is innovation on
      the local level, and as an example , McNeil pointed to AFN's year-old
      Alaska Marketplace program, which has given large financial rewards --
      between $15,000 and $60,000 -- to entrepreneurs who come up with innovative
      business concepts.

      More than $500,000 in awards were given to roughly 20 of the 62 finalists
      who competed in the program this year.

      But some trends, especially out-migration of skilled workers, are working
      against the village economy, he said.

      "The regional corporations have been thinking very hard about how we can
      bring everyone up together," he said.

      A string of speakers at AFN Friday -- including Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska
      -- also discussed the need to reverse the negative trend in the villages.

      Stevens said success could come from creatively finding "something in the
      village that the rest of the world wants."

      He also pointed out some positive trends in the villages -- through funding
      from the Denali Commission, for example, fewer communities are in
      Third-World conditions.

      "I'm so glad to hear the focus is now on the villages," Edward Itta, the
      North Slope borough mayor, said to the delegates.

      "It is getting so difficult out there yet we are so fortunate," he said.

      AWARDS

      The AFN leadership presented two major annual awards on Friday.

      McNeil, the Sealaska executive, received AFN's Citizen of the Year award,
      for his work on behalf of Natives -- trying to get a bigger voice for
      Natives on the state level and his cultural activities.

      Carol Daniel, a veteran attorney, was given the Denali Award, reserved for
      a non-Native. Daniel was co-counsel on the Katie John subsistence lawsuit
      and has been involved in numerous other lawsuits on behalf of Natives.
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